FHS Panthers football, tennis tally wins

Franklin High School Panthers football team takes the field Thursday for a game against the Pisgah Black Bears. The varsity game was played on Thursday due to the forecasted bad weather for Friday.

Dan Finnerty – Contributing Writer

The threat of Hurricane Ian moved Franklin High School’s (FHS) football game vs. the Pisgah Black Bears to Thursday, Sept. 28, instead of Friday. The Panthers, coming off a disappointing 31-7 loss at Tuscola, prevailed 23-21 in a hard fought contest.

The FHS women’s tennis team also had a match vs. East Henderson on the same day and ran their season record to 12-0 with 10 of the wins in conference. Coach Heather Bell, who has led the Lady Panthers for nine years, pointed out that “we are reaping the benefits of a middle school training program for the first time this year.” Similar to an approach undertaken by the volleyball program several years back, Bell began to focus on building a program for 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls, resulting in greater familiarity and higher skill levels when entering their freshman year. 

The varsity team is composed of 13 players: four freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors, and two seniors. In doubles play, Alyssa Smith (#1 seed) and Kate Phillips (#2 seed) remain undefeated at the #1 position while Abigail Angel (#3 seed), is 7-4 in singles play and 6-1 at the #2 position, and was recently recognized as the FHS September Athlete of the Month. 

“Abigail is one of the hardest working players I have coached and pours her heart and soul into the sport,” said Coach Bell. “Few will know what it is like to play with the passion she has. I could not be prouder of the competitor and person she has become.” 

With only two matches left before the conference tournament, hosted in Franklin this year, the sky is the limit for Lady Panther tennis in 2022.

For Panther football, Ty Handley (#15) is proving to be a force to reckon with scoring three touchdowns and grabbing an impressive interception. Of FHS’ 323 total yards, 252 came on the ground: from Handley 107 yards; Brayden Watts (#14) with 89 yards; and, quarterback Davis Anders (#12) with 56 yards. 

All three senior players have factored significantly in the Panthers’ success thus far this season. Sophomore kicker Daniel Riddle (#17) contributed to the scoring, making one field goal of 28 yards and two of three points after touchdown. He also totaled 156 yards in kickoffs.

Franklin’s record is now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference. Homecoming is this Friday, Oct. 7, with the Panthers playing the North Henderson Knights, which are 2-4 overall and 0-3 in conference. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Panther Pit.

Remaining on the schedule for the 2022 season is an away game against Smoky Mountain on Oct. 14; a home game against West Henderson on Oct. 21; and a home game against TC Roberson on Oct. 28. The first round of the state playoffs is set for Nov. 4 with teams and location to be determined.