Football Game of the Week: No. 10 Franklin (1-1) at Hereford (2-0)
Hereford's Jay Patti, left, and Franklin's Marquis Ellis, right, are two of the players to watch in Friday night's game. (Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Coaches: Anthony Burgos, Franklin; Steve Turnbaugh, Hereford
Last meeting: Franklin won, 24-19, last season.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Franklin: ATH Reggie Ellis, Sr. (21.5 yards per catch, 143 total yards, 2 TDs); WR-FS Marquis Ellis, Sr. (11.5 yards per catch, 1 TD); RB Maurice McFadden, So. (7.6 yards per carry); QB Jaquez Adams, So. (116 yards passing, 3 TDs); RB-LB Andrew Lawrence, Fr. (12 tackles); K Bryan Bray, Jr. (5-for-5 PATs, 1 for 1 FG).
Hereford: QB Ryan Jones, Sr. (105 yards, 3 rushing TDs; 110 yards, 1 passing TD); QB-S-K Jay Patti (2 rushing TDs, 11-for-11 PATs); LB Gavin Chiodi, Sr. (19 tackles, 1 INT), LB Brock Turnbaugh, Jr. (17 tackles, 1 fumble rec., 1 sack); OL-DL Brennan Butz, Sr. (13 tackles, 1 fumble rec., 3 sacks).
KEYS TO VICTORY
The quest for the Baltimore County Class 4A-3A Division title likely starts with this matchup between two young teams. The Indians figured to be a contender with a load of strong skill players, while the Bulls impressed with a season-opening 28-10 win over North Harford.
Each plays No. 7 and defending division champion Catonsville in the next two weeks and by then, the division race may be all but over. In the meantime, tonight's game features an Indians team capable of a big play at any minute and a Bulls team looking to grind it out on offense.
The Indians dropped their first game to Prince George's County's Henry Wise, 20-0, but Turnbaugh said Franklin was two or three plays away from being in it. They matched the Pumas in speed and skill but not size.
Burgos said his team is still trying to find the right balance between the passing and the running games.
"We have eight sophomores or freshmen starting or actively playing," Burgos said, "so the future's very bright. It's just about speeding up the learning curve. We have six, seven guys we feel could be major players, so it's a matter of spreading the ball around and keeping everybody sort of happy."
Hereford spreads the ball around, too.
"We have a great mix of seniors and a lot of underclassmen and juniors have stepped up and made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball," Turnbaugh said. "It's a great group of young men as far as team chemistry. Nobody in this senior class is going to Maryland or Virginia or Ohio State, but they're just so coachable."
The advantage in skill and athleticism favors the Indians, and Burgos said they will have to keep the Bulls from moving the ball three or four yards at a time and force them into long-yardage situations.
"We have to utilize our athletes and make our athletes outplay their athletes, which I think it's no mystery is a positive for us," Burgos said. "I think we have the advantage when it comes to skill guys and I think we're going to have to be able to hold our ground up front."
The Indians will also get a boost from the return of DT Shaquile Melvin, who broke his left hand in a scrimmage and sat out the first game. He played sparingly in last week's 38-0 win over Eastern Tech but will be ready tonight.
For the Bulls, a deliberate, steady offense that eats up the clock will be critical if they hope to win, because they don't have the big-play potential that Franklin does.
"We don't have big-play guys that can take a 2-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard pass or take a simple handoff and run 70 yards," Turnbaugh said. "We don't have any of that type of speed. We've got to be very boring and have a perfect game as far penalties. We can't get behind the chains. We're just going to have to run three yards, three yards, four yards, first down. If they don't have the ball then they're playmakers can't make the plays. If we go three-and-out and give them opportunties, we're in trouble."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Reginald Lewis at Forest Park, Friday, 3:45
Meade at No. 4 Arundel, Friday, 6:30
No. 6 Westminster at Linganore, Friday, 7
No. 13 Atholton at Howard, Friday, 7