In addition to bolstering school spirit and team morale, Livonia Franklin’s season-long football surge has also created an uptick in business for Benny’s Pizza in Westland.
That’s where members of Franklin’s turn-around team met along with the coaching staff and players’ family members to watch Sunday night’s MHSAA Football Playoff Selection Show.
It was the first time the 6-3 Patriots have had a stake in the releasing of the brackets since 2010, which was the last time they qualified for the post-season.
A few minutes after 7:30 p.m. Sunday , the big-screen TV at Benny’s revealed that the Patriots would be hosting 5-4 Farmington High School Friday at 7 p.m. in a Division 2 match-up. A victory would propel the streaking team into a district final encounter against the winner of Friday’s Churchill-Jackson game.
“It was electric in there,” said Franklin senior lineman Ryan Tracy, who along with his teammates endured a brutal 2-7 season in 2014. “When we found out we’d be hosting the game, everybody went crazy. One kid took his shirt off and started spinning it around.”
Tracy said he could sense this year’s team would be special beginning with off-season workouts and even after a couple of early-season losses.
“Our summer program changed it all around; we had really good attendance and everyone’s attitude was great,” he said. “Even though we lost to Stevenson (49-39) in the first game, we really picked it up in the second half (Franklin cut its deficit to three points in the fourth quarter). We knew Stevenson had a good team, so battling them like we did made me feel like we were going to be a lot better than last year.
“The Canton game was the same way. We lost (27-17), but we were leading them in the second half, and we knew they were good.”
Although Farmington barely qualified for the playoffs with a 5-4 record, the Falcons will be a formidable foe for Franklin.
Three of the Falcons’ losses were by five points or fewer, including a one-point setback to Farmington Hills Harrison and a three-point loss to Lake Orion.
“We’ve watched film on them and we played them in seven-on-seven over the summer, so we know they’re a very skilled, very athletic football team,” said Franklin head coach Chris Kelbert. “They want to run the football. They have four or five kids who will carry the ball and all of them have the ability to take it the distance. We’re really going to have to be on our assignments and play good assignment football.
“Their linebacker and tailback are big, strong, bruising players. Up front, we match up with them pretty well size-wise.”
Thanks to a high-powered offense engineered by senior quarterback Denzel Adams, Franklin out-scored its opponents 356-247 during the regular season. The elusive Adams has given defenses fits this fall with his scrambling and open-field running ability.