Going against the grain suits Franklin and its all-time winningest football coach perfectly.
Josh Brooks is a 1993 Smoky Mountain graduate who has 100 career wins as of last Friday for the other side of the Cowee Mountain rivalry. Brooks is a former Western Carolina University quarterback, so of course that means the Panthers are a razzle-dazzle team?
Nope, junior Brock Kloeppel (1,285 yards, 22 touchdowns) is averaging 160.6 yards a game and the area’s top rusher has a chance to become the fourth 2,000-yard back in three seasons for Franklin (4-4, 2-2).
The Panthers are home for the latest installment in the “Thursday Night Lights” promotion from WMYA-TV (40). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from inside the Panther Pit.
It looks like Franklin will have its three-year stretch of WNC Athletic Conference championships snapped this fall despite last Friday’s 26-14 win at North Henderson.
But there are still plenty of positives to glean, starting with the between-the-tackles work of Kloeppel and the poise of fellow junior Andrew Moore (1,286 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions).
Moore is a first-year starting varsity quarterback who has benefitted from the hands of Jordin Nugent (35 receptions for 449 yards), Bailey Watts (32 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns), and Kloeppel (13 receptions for 206 yards and four touchdowns).
Logan Tallent (5.5 tackles per game), Carrington Houston (5.0), Zach Delacruz (4.6), Grant Stiles (4.3) and Ethan McCall (4.0) are the team’s most active tacklers.
East Henderson (0-8, 0-4) and North Buncombe (0-8, 0-3) are the only winless football teams left in WNC. Eagles quarterback Zach Adkinson threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chris Fuge and Garrett Stiwinter in last Friday’s 48-13 loss to Smoky Mountain.