The Fall 2022 Football Season Opener: Murphy hosts Franklin


By Brandon Stephens


(Murphy) – – It’s that time of year again to hear cow bells and cheerleaders in the air; smell hotdogs and popcorn; and the sound of the syrupy voice of a familiar public address announcer shouting “FIRST AND TEN BULLDOGS.” The sharp dressed Bulldog boys of fall and the energized coaching staff on the sideline of David Gentry Field will be good to see too.  The feeling will probably be mutual for many other teams in western North Carolina as the Musco lighting systems are lit for the 2022 football season to begin.

Murphy’s season opener with Franklin is a bitter-sweet game that has been a good barometer for the Bulldogs over the last 15 years, or more.  Coming off the hill in Murphy or meeting the Panthers in the Pitt in Macon County gives no real advantage to you in this game.  The Brooks Brothers (Head Coach Josh Brooks and Assistant Coach Jay Brooks) and their entire coaching staff generally place a team this well-coached, mentally, and physically tough.  You better be ready for the Panthers in any setting and any time in the season because they play to win through the entire game.  When you finish the game with Franklin, with a win or loss, you have a clear picture of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats because they will test every aspect of your ability.

Let’s Look at Franklin

Franklin is stacked with good players, a great number of them are seniors that have lots of size and grit.  The offense will probably send out the “downhill run” plays at you.  What that means to football teams is the rushing game does not generally waste time with fancy maneuvers.  The Panthers like to run straight through the line with big running backs and lots of speed.  Most of the Panther’s offensive backfield will be made up of new starters that do not have the experience as their predecessors.  We believe this will probably be Senior Fullback Brayden Watts (5’10 and 205lbs) and Senior Halfback Daniel Ensley (6’0 and 180lbs).  The Panthers are led by Senior Quarterback Davis Anders who played tight end last season.  Senior receivers Clayton Guynn and Ben Waldrop will replace graduates Kegan Pollack and Grant Adams, who were excelled as flankers.  The line has some decent size but is made up of all new faces.

The Franklin defense may only have one veteran from last year return, which is Brayden Watts at Middle Linebacker.  The rest of the defense will be made of a new cast of players, with the exception of the secondary, many of the linemen will be dedicated to one side of the ball and not play “ironman” football.  The defense will have a 50-set or do a one-technique and shade off the center.  Look for the Panthers to look for the dives and traps Murphy will send through the B gaps.

What about the Murphy Bulldogs

Friday’s (August 12th) scrimmage game showed Murphy has some good skill to work with in the run game and the frontline defense.  It also indicated there is some work needed in the passing game.  The Murphy Bulldogs needed a little more energy working against the Watauga Pioneers and Ashe County Huskies, who were not scouted. “I originally was hesitant about taking that scrimmage game. I thought it was a good idea for us to be able to learn how to get on a bus and take a trip and be able to get off a bus and play the game.  We played hard right at the beginning.  But I thought we started out slow,” Murphy Head Coach Joseph Watson stated about the scrimmage game.  Coach Watson said defense needed to do more work to read its keys and get in position correctly and play with a better tempo in offense.  Otherwise He was pleased with how Cole Laney worked at quarterback and Will Johnson at tight end.  He was also pleased with the running backs.  Coach Watson is looking for a physical football game with Franklin.  His full comments can be heard at the link in this article.

Murphy Quarterback Cole Laney feels like the scrimmage with the Pioneers and Huskies was good for the team to grow and develop.  Cole wants to get better in the passing game.  “We have played Franklin all four years of my high school career and they always have a great defense,” Laney stated about the Panthers.  Overall, he is excited to get the football season started.  Cole Laney’s comments can be heard at the link in this article.

John Ledford will line up on defense at linebacker, as well as a running back on offense.  Ledford feels like one of the better parts of the defense was stopping the Pioneers and Huskies rushing games and pass coverage needs some work.  But the pass coverage has been a part of the focus of practice this week and he expects the secondary to do well going forward.  John, what are you going to expect with Franklin?  “Franklin has always been down hill (running) on us.  They always are.  They have two pretty big backs in the back field.  We are going to have to play our keys and play smart,” Ledford stated.  John Ledford’s comments can be heard at the link in this article.

Take Aways

This game could be exciting and close.  The team that can stay away from the typical early season mistakes and take care of the ball will increase their chances of winning.  Both teams had some struggles with their scrimmage last week.  Andrews gave Franklin a challenging game to get to the end zone.  As Coach Watson noted, he would like to see more energy and better tempo with his team.  If the Bulldogs can develop and exercise its passing game, this may give Murphy an advantage.  Both teams have new faces in a lot of different spaces on the field.  This could be a very competitive game.

The Murphy JV football team will face Mountain Heritage at Enka High School, Thursday night at 6:00PM.  Good luck to the JVs as they start out their season.

Team FYN Sports will stream the Murphy versus Franklin game at around 7PM Friday night.

Leave a comment

Back to Top