*Editors Note – Official Statistics provided by Carlton Wilkes*
ROCKY MOUNT – The bright lights will once again shine after 469 days, albeit on Thursday night this time, as the Franklin County Eagles Varsity return to the gridiron to open the Winter 2021 season.
The Eagles open the season against Blue Ridge District foe Northside and look to avenge a 21-0 loss from last season. This will mark the 18th meeting between the two schools with Northside holding the 8-7-2 lead in the series.
Last season, the Eagles rode a 3 game winning streak into their matchup with the Vikings (scoring 103 points combined in those 3 games) but saw that streak come to an end as the Northside defense proved to be too tough.
The Eagles only managed 85 yards of total offense and a mere 26 yards on the ground. On the opposite side of the ball, Northside Freshman QB Sydney Webb threw for 1 touchdown and RB Christian Fisher added 109 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
The Eagles return much of the offensive firepower from last season that scored an average of 22 points per game, racked up 1828 yards rushing and another 1292 through air. Senior Running Back Jayron Smith will return to the Eagle backfield after putting up 1027 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns a season ago. He could be joined in the backfield by breakout Sophomore Jahylen Lee who quickly racked up 523 yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns in just 4 games. Add into the mix Sophomore Fullback Ke’Shaun Wright who added another 181 yards rushing, 226 yard receiving (5 TDS) and you have a full stable of backs to carry the football.
Also returning for the Eagles are Senior Quarterback/Punter Josh Luckett who passed for 1245 yards and 15 touchdowns, 97 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns and averaged over 26 yards punting for the Eagles. JV Quarterback from a year ago Eli Foutz will make the move to the Varsity squad this season to provide depth and options at the position.
Senior Eagle Kicker Chandler Holley is also coming off a season in which he hit 33 of 36 PATS and added a 27 yard Field Goal.
Defensively the Eagles will have several holes to fill as they replace the top 4 leading tacklers from a year ago (Hunter Cannaday, Parker Scott, Will Hairston, and Brian Cromwell). Returning on the defensive side of the football are Senior Linebacker Landon Church who provided 26 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss; Junior Defensive Tackle Elijah Witcher who tallied 25 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss; and Junior Cornerback Jamerise Holland who led the team in interceptions with 2 and added 27 tackles.
The first game between these teams dates back to 1962 and this will mark the 9th occasion for the Eagles to play on Thursday Night (5-3).