FHS Panthers finish out fall season

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Franklin High School photo by Vickie Carpenter

Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer

Football

Following the regular season, the Franklin High School (FHS) Panthers earned an #18 seed in the Class 3A State Football Playoffs. Franklin traveled to play the #15 seed West Rowan Falcons on Friday, Nov. 4 in Mt. Ulla, near Salisbury. The Falcons opened up the game receiving the ball and went crisply down the field to score the first touchdown (TD) only four minutes into the game. On Franklin’s first possession, quarterback Davis Anders (#12) had a big 37-yard pass to Beau Paulson (#16), after some productive running from tailback Ty Handley (#15). But an interception by the Falcons was immediately followed by an 80-yard  run and TD to make the game 14-0, West Rowan. 

On Franklin’s next possession, they had to punt, and again West Rowan went down the field with the ensuing possession to score another TD to essentially put the game out of reach, 21-0. Although FHS did manage a 1-yard TD from Handley in the second quarter, the Falcons again scored a rushing TD of their own to make the score 28-7, West Rowan at the half. Franklin never drew closer and the final score was 35-7, ending the Panthers’ season at 6-5 (3-3). 

Head Coach Josh Brooks assessed the game and season following the loss.

 “The better team won on Friday night. We made some mistakes that hurt us but that was not the difference in the game. [I am] very proud of our seniors and I loved this team. They had three straight winning seasons and made the playoffs the last two years,” said Coach Brooks.

Tennis

At 17-1 (12-0) the FHS tennis team enjoyed an immensely successful season under coaches Heather Bell and Andrea Bosio. The one loss came on Nov. 2, in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association tournament semi-finals, to Lake Norman Charter, the overall #1 seeded team in the tournament, 5-1. Team assistant Tom Miller pointed out that while losing at the end of any season is always disappointing, “we are regional runners-up. The girls handled the loss very well; they got beat by a better team.” 

Head Coach Bell, in reflecting on the season, added, “So many things made this a successful team; to point to one thing would be to discount so many others: these specific, incredibly talented and determined athletes, the parents of this group who endlessly support the program, numerous coaches who pour into these girls year-round, supportive administration … the list goes on and on.” 

Bell went on to bestow praise on both her student athletes and other supporters from within the Franklin community. 

“The reason I am beyond proud of this team is that we do not have near the resources many of the high-level players and teams have: no indoor courts, no U.S. Tennis Association tournaments within an hour and a half, and no racket club facilities with after school programs providing year-round training. But as a community, we pull together and show what having good-hearted people and a lot of hard work and determination can achieve.”

Soccer

FHS won a Conference title for only the second time in the history of its men’s soccer program; the other time was in 2014. Following a 14-5-2 (8-2-2 conference) regular season record, Head Coach Matt Kolodzik’s team made it to the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) state playoffs before falling to the St. Stephens Indians, 4-1 on Nov. 3. The Panthers had a phenomenal season, capped by numerous Mountain 7 Conference awards, with Coach Kolodzik winning the Conference Coach of the Year award. Overall, FHS soccer was allotted five All-Conference selections, along with other individual awards, topped by #1/Forward Noel Rivera-Villa’s Mountain 7 Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and a North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association All-Region and All-State nomination. Kolodzik also pointed out that Ulises Padron-Perez was nominated for the All-State Team. Plus, Isaiah Roots, Cristian Chavez, and Aaron Jennings all made NCSCA All-Region selections.

Volleyball

The FHS 2022 volleyball season came to a close with the varsity girls finishing with a 17-9, (6-6 conference) regular season record. The Bekah Brooks-coached girls won their first round NCHSAA tournament match against Carson, 3-0. Unfortunately, they lost to top-ranked Iredell, 0-3, in the second round. 

“This team has been amazing to coach and watch grow. I hope they know they are loved and their value rests in Jesus, not in wins or losses, or in achievements or awards,” said Brooks.

The junior varsity volleyball team, coached by Cindy Christie, just completed a phenomenal season. They went 22-2 with the second loss only coming at the season-ending conference tournament. Sophomores Kyrah Bowles, McKenna Plemmons and Emma Ledford were key leaders of the team’s effort throughout the season while Ryan Green, Piper Wittikind, and Meliah Mason provided solid defense at the net. 

Coach Christie pointed out that, “the biggest positive of this team is they played with all heart all of the time. We tried to focus on leaving mistakes in the past and being ready for the next play.” She also emphatically stated, “I’m not sure there was another team on our schedule that had a stronger serving lineup than the duo of Aubrey Haley and Plemmons.” 

Christie lauded her freshmen players. 

“They stepped up and worked so hard, learning and never giving up and … representing the Panthers the way we know we’re supposed to. All the coaches and players are excited about the program and eagerly look forward to next season.”

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