The setting is December 11, 2020, Rose Stadium in Tyler, Texas for a semi-final playoff football game of 3A-Division 2 teams, the Franklin Lions and Waskom Wildcats. Just five years ago these two teams faced each other in the State Final game in Houston, Texas. Waskom pulled out a 33-21 victory to become State Champions in 2015.
This rematch had a bit of revenge in it for the Lions who scored first in this game. Both teams sported exceptional ground games and defense. The rain had ended before game time, but this was expected to be a tight battle regardless of the weather. Franklin fans were in abundance that made the two-hour drive to Tyler.
After a 7 – 0 halftime score, the second half started with an inspired Wildcat team scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 7 – 7. Later in the 4th quarter Waskom scored to make it 7 -13. Then, surprisingly they tried for a 2 point conversion which Franklin stuffed short.
After a series of running plays and punts by both teams, the Lions had the ball on their 8-yard line with less than five minutes to play and down by 6 points. All they had to do is score which is what the coaches told each other. True, but starting 92 yards away from the end zone against a tough defense and the clock running down Franklin did what they do. One might ask, “What is it that they do?” They run the ball. And they do that very well. A fast-paced, tightly packed formation with multiple running backs now became an even faster-paced drive.
This drive to victory may go down in Franklin football history lore as, “The Drive”. Even with Waskom having 11 defenders “in the box” most of the time, I can just hear the coaches telling their offense, “This is what we do!” “We run the football.” “That’s what got us here. “That’s who we are.” “We can DO this!” And run they did. They ran right and they ran left. They ran up the middle and they ran wide, turning one runup to the Waskom 33 yard line.
Every Texas High School coaching staff always has at least one play up their sleeve that’s different, maybe even a game-changer. They save it for just the right time. This was the time. The pass from Marcus Wade to Hayden Helton is the touchdown that everyone will remember that completed The Drive.
The extra point made it official, 14 – 13. Yes, there were a couple of minutes left in the game but the Wildcats didn’t muster much ending it with a double-reverse pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Murphy sealing the deal. Now it’s on to Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, December 17, 2020, to play for the state title against Canadian, Texas.Congratulations to the entire team, first-year Head coach Mark Fannin and his entire staff.
Written by a Fanatic Franklin Football Fan From Fort Worth