CEDAR PARK — When scoring becomes just a little too easy, like it did for top-ranked Franklin on Friday night, it’s helpful to have a little internal rivalry to keep the competitive juices flowing.
The Lions’ stable of running backs pushed — and razzed — each other through a 70-6 victory over the Stockdale Brahmas in the Class 3A Division II area playoffs at Gumpton Stadium. The group ran for 538 yards and nine touchdowns.
“The competition is the key to everything,” Franklin head coach Mark Fannin said. “We compete in everything we do in practice and every time on Friday night. But we’ve got a bunch of selfless kids right now that are just excited for anyone who scores a touchdown.”
Senior Bobby Washington led the charge for Franklin (12-0), rushing for 184 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, all in the first half. Freshman Jayden Jackson only needed three carries to pick up 112 yards and two touchdowns, and senior Malcolm Murphy racked up 105 and a touchdown on four carries.
Junior Bryson Washington, Bobby’s brother, was the hero of the Lion’s first-round victory of Danbury, rushing for 177 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. Against Stockdale (6-6), he ceded his crown as team leader to his brother, though he did pick up 55 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.
As a unit, Franklin’s rushers averaged 16.3 yards per carry behind an offensive line that opened holes on almost every play from scrimmage. Bobby Washington said he couldn’t remember a time he was touched running through the line Friday.
“They blocked really well,” the elder Washington said. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t even do all of that that I did right now.”
Franklin needed just three plays from scrimmage to score 14 points. On his first touch of the game, Bobby Washington ripped off a 66-yard scamper, getting caught at Stockdale’s 7-yard line. The next play went to Bryson Washington for the 7-yard score.
On the first play of the following drive, quarterback Marcus Wade pitched the ball to Malcolm Murphy who took it a game-high 84 yards for a touchdown.
Four of Franklin’s nine TD runs went for 40-plus yards, including back-to-back scoring runs of 69 and 61 yards in the second quarter. Jackson picked up the longer of the two with Bobby Washington claiming the other.
After Franklin pulled its starters early in the second half, backups Fragile Owns and Cole Brantner got in on the scoring party with touchdown runs of their own.
The Lions didn’t need a passing game Friday, but Wade completed 3 of 4 passes for 76 yards. He delivered a 29-yard strike over a defender and into the hands of Hayden Helton for a second-quarter touchdown.
Defensively, the Lion coaching staff dialed up blitzes and stunts at just the right times with penetration the end result of almost every play. Sophomore linebacker Brayden Youree had a team-high nine tackles, including three for loss. Senior linebacker Seth Shamblin also recorded three tackles for loss and had five tackles overall.
“We really guessed when they were going to pass,” Shamblin said. “I mean, you could really tell when they were going to pass with their formations, and whenever you get pressure on them, it was easy money.”
Franklin defensive linemen Major Kimbrough and Andrew Elmore sacked Stockdale quarterback Camden Derricoatte once, and cornerback Devyn Hidrogo added a late interception.
Stockdale mustered 149 total yards, led by 66 rushing yards from Cutter Clancy. A late fumble by the Lions on their own 6 ultimately set up the Brahmas’ only score of the game — a 1-yard touchdown run by Derricoatte. The extra-point kick sailed wide right.
Franklin advances to the regional round to face Riesel (7-4), which the Lions beat 75-13 in District 13-3A-II play earlier this season. Riesel placed fourth in district with a 3-3 record.
No matter the opponent, Franklin will continue to compete from within as it moves closer and closer to the state final.
“I tell them all the time they’ve got to be excited for each other and to get excited for each other,” Fannin said. “I want you to continue to have energy and continue to have fun, but do it with each other.”