Franklin County High School’s football team launches its campaign tonight in unfamiliar territory, as the Eagles embark upon their inaugural season in the Blue Ridge District against opposition they’ve not faced in years – including one school they’ve not played since 1977, well before anyone on either squad was born.

At 7 tonight, the regular season begins at Liberty High School in a non-district game at Bedford. It ends more than two months later on Nov. 8 with a home contest against one of the Eagles’ new district foes, William Byrd, which they’ve not played for more than four decades.

In between, the Eagles will square off against league foes Staunton River, Northside, Lord Botetourt and William Fleming. But the non-league opposition schedule, headlined by a road game at perennial powerhouse Salem, won’t be easy, either.

The Eagles have a superior mentor in the person of head coach J.R. Edwards, who in his five years at the helm of the program has become the second FCHS coach to direct his squad in multiple playoff games in the same year. That experience should be invaluable should this year’s team qualify for postseason competition in their newly-designated Class 6 Region A.

But to get there, the Eagles will need some stellar play from last year’s 1,000-yard rusher, Jayron Smith, and top receiver Garrett Garman, who snagged 20 passes for nearly 550 yards and eight touchdowns.

They’ll also need a stalwart defense, led by linebacker Parker Scott, who was credited with 50 solo tackles last season, and defensive back Tyshaun Zeigler, who picked off four passes, bringing one back into the end zone.

Zeigler; however, is out with a shoulder injury until at least mid-season.

Whether the Eagles are playoff-bound after a campaign through a new district with uncharted territory, there’s one thing that’s a certainty: The Voice of the Eagles.

Although Steve Angle has retired as a business teacher, case manager and administrator at Franklin County High School after 32 years of service, he’ll still be behind the microphone as the announcer for Eagle football games this year, as he has for four decades.

Franklin County High’s home football games are more than just an athletic contest; they’ve come to be a unifying event for the community. As a result, regardless of the season’s outcome, Eagles fans will be the winners with our Rocky Mount mayor behind the microphone.

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