November 25, 2020

Blue-Collar Braves

Article written by Corey Cusick and provided courtesy of The Times-Georgian

(L-R) Andrew Cannon, Hunter Lane and Jake Bishop (Photo: Corey Cusick/ The Times-Georgian)

(L-R) Andrew Cannon, Hunter Lane and Jake Bishop (Photo: Corey Cusick/ The Times-Georgian)

(Franklin, GA) — It’s no secret that Franklin is a football town.

The working-class community rallies behind the Heard County High School football program every Friday night in the fall, and when it comes to their beloved Braves, there’s one group that represents that blue-collar embodiment — the linemen.

This season HC head coach Tim Barron returns a veteran core on both sides of the line that is eager to build on last year’s historic run to the Class AA state quarterfinals.

Of course, they understand that last year is last year and now it’s 2015. But it’s that grit, work ethic and unselfishness that gives Barron reason to believe this season can be another special one.

“Our practices don’t start until 5:30 and our kids are out here before we are,” Barron said.

“They’ll start warming up and we’ll come out at a 5:30 start time and the kids are waiting on us, and that’s a good thing to have. When you’ve got kids doing those things and having those blue-collar guys, they work hard in the weight room, they’re respectful, they’re good in the classroom. It’s just a good situation.”

On the offensive front, the Braves lost first-team all-state tackle Levi Brown to Marshall University, but they return five seniors that will man the trenches, led by the trio of right guard Andrew Cannon, left guard Hunter Lane and left tackle Jake Bishop.

(Editor’s Note: The Braves first scrimmage will be open to the public for “Midnight Madness” at 12:00 a.m. tonight/Saturday morning at Staples Stadium. There is no charge for this event)

Defensively, that theme of senior leadership spills over in the form of defensive tackles Diamond Delgado and Rad Brooks to go along with the reigning Region 5-AA Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Matt Brown.

Regardless of which line of scrimmage you talk about, the one thing that keeps popping up is family, and that’s spread throughout a deep senior class.

“I feel that we’re going to come together like a charm. We’ve got a big senior class with like 20-something kids and we’ve done nothing but football with each other. We’ve got an all-senior offensive line and we know nothing but each other and to play beside each other,” Cannon said. “It’s going to be like a regular old family down the O-line.”

Bishop said despite losing two all-state performers offensively — Brown and record-setting tailback Duranta Dunson — it’ll make for more of a collective effort this year.

“We did lose a lot of great players last year, but [Monday] was the first practice and I felt like the family that we have this year and throughout the summer, we’ve grown together and we’re going to be a much tighter group of people, group of boys. We’re going to hustle around and get the job done,” Bishop said.

Defensively, Brown emerged as a standout last year during his junior campaign, registering a team-best 120 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss and four sacks, while Delgado was also a first-team all-region performer with 96 tackles and 15 for a loss.

“They’re all just like the O-line, they’re blue-collar. Matt Brown had an excellent year for us last year. Very, very productive. We expect the same out of him. But Rad Brooks and Diamond Delgado, even Austin Dean, those guys that are coming back with that experience, we’re awfully excited about those guys,” Barron said.

“They work hard, they’re smart, they’re going to understand the concept of what we’re trying to do.”

(L-R): Ethan Brant, Matt Brown, and Diamond Delgado (Photo: Corey Cusick/ The Times-Georgian)

(L-R): Ethan Brant, Matt Brown, and Diamond Delgado (Photo: Corey Cusick/ The Times-Georgian)

Having that familiarity on the line is another plus for the players in understanding what each other is thinking at critical points in the game.

“It feels good. We know how to work with each other and we know how to play both sides. It feels good since we played last year together,” Delgado said.

After two years on top of the region, the Braves dropped down to second place last year to Bowdon.

Brown said in order to get back on top it’s going to take old-fashioned hard work. That’s certainly nothing this group is going to back down from anytime soon.

“Coming out there and executing everyday on every play. Not taking any plays off and just going out there and playing our hearts out,” Brown said.

Brooks expects nothing less than to contend for the region crown again and make another playoff run, but he said nothing comes easy. It’s something the team learned last year following a frustrating 1-4 start.

“We came together a lot last year toward the end of the season. I’ve been playing football with them for four years and I’ve been playing with most of the guys on this team since rec ball. They’re like my family,” Brooks said. “We’re a big family and I feel like we’re going to get the job done all season. We’re not selfish. We’re going to make plays and we’re going to be happy when other people make plays.”

This tight-knit group is all about what’s best for the team, and it’s just a matter of time before the final campaign kicks off for the senior class.

“We’ve always known how to push each other and what we do best. We’re just a bunch of blue-collar kids getting out there and trying to get it done for each other,” Lane said.

Comments

  1. Work the line own it this year.

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