District Showdown: Cameron Yoemen Vs. Franklin Lions

Before a season starts, there are games that every fan base has circled.  Whether you are a Yoemen or Lions fan, this is one of the games you would have had marked down.  Cameron has played for and won multiple state championships while Franklin has been deep in the playoffs year in and year out.    


Franklin (5-0/1-0) has had a very strong start to their 2016 campaign, going 4-0 in non-district play.  In those four contests, Franklin had victories over Navasota (38-22), Caldwell (52-13), Lorena (34-21) and Waco Connally (48-42).  The Lions opened up 10-3A action with a dominating 42-14 win over the Troy Trojans.


“They have played a tough schedule,” said Yoemen head coach Tommy Brashear.  “They are very highly ranked.  Most polls have them ranked above us and most polls would pick them in a close game.  Our kids know that and that just encourages them even more to work harder and try to prove those polls and people wrong.”


Franklin has been very consistent over the years, going 47-6 since the 2012 season.  Coach Mike Hedrick has been a head coach now for 40 years, accumulating a 273-150-11 record during that time.  Hedrick was the head man at Jewett Leon from 1980-2005 before moving over to Franklin in 2006.  Joe Hedrick, his father, coached the Lions from 1948 until 1984, going 240-121-15 in his 36 years.  The field in Franklin is named after the long-time coach.  


The Lions had their deepest playoff run in 2015, going 15-1 with the only loss coming to Waskom (33-21) in the 3A DII championship game.   


These two teams were very close to meeting in the playoffs in 2013 and 2012.  In 2013, Franklin lost to White Oak (31-0) in the quarterfinals.  Cameron defeated White Oak (24-21) the following week in the semifinals.  In 2012, the Lions lost to Newton (49-13) in the quarterfinals.  Cameron defeated the Eagles the following week in the semifinals, 39-22.  



There will be no surprises from the Franklin offense on Friday night.  The Lions have been running to slot-t for years now and have found a lot of success with the heavy ground game.  


Franklin returns four of their top five rushers from last season’s team that averaged 46.8 points per contest. Though this year’s schedule has been very tough in the early going, the Lions still sit at 42.8 points per game.  


“We need to get them in third and long and second and long”, said Brashear.  “When you face a slot-t team, we preach to our defense that first down is huge.  You want to get a short-yardage gain or a no gain on first down and put them in those situations.  The slot-t offense is not setup for that.  They are a three our four yards and a cloud of dust.”


Returning in the backfield is FB Clayton Rosprim, which earned second team all-district honors as a freshmen.  Jared Pedraza was another freshmen standout that will carry the ball.  The biggest threat will be senior RB Bobby Graham, which has been a force up the middle.  The Lions like to run behind 6’5” tackle Casey Phillips.  



Defensively, Franklin has given up 22.4 points per ball game.  So far, that is up from 13.3 a season ago.  


“Their defensive front is one of the best we have faced all year,” said Brashear.  “They run a 4-2 front, and they like to stay in that in that as much as they can.  Their four down lineman are solid, strong kids. Their ends are very good athletes.”


DT Bryant Mathis, LB Drew Fannin and S Thomas Box were first-team all-district members in 2015.  DE Raheem Green, DL Blake Johnson and LB Will Fannin were second team members.


All-in-all, the Lions return five of their six players up front.


Depth & Passing

There will be two key points to watch in this game.  Firstly, you have depth.  Cameron has traditionally had no two-way starters while Franklin relies on more of their players going both ways.  


“They have several kids that play both sides of the ball and that can play into our advantage because we have 22 starters, so maybe we can wear them down on both sides of the ball,” said Brashear.  “That would be beneficial to us late in the game in the fourth quarter.”


Additionally, Connally was the one team that gave Franklin more problems than others by putting up 42 points.    


“Connally runs the spread offense like us,” said Brashear.  “They really want to keep those six guys in the box.  In doing so, that opens up some things in the passing game.  They had a few runs on them as well, but Connally mostly had success in the passing game.  It's going to take execution.  We need to have good throwing, passing, running of routes and good timing between our quarterback and receivers.”



Elsewhere in the district, Troy (0-1) will travel to Jarrell (0-1) while Rockdale (0-0) will play their first district game by hosting Academy (1-0).  McGregor has the week off.


Kickoff for this week’s big contest at Franklin is set for 7:30 p.m.  The gates will open at 5:15 p.m.