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Linemen and 7-on-7 challenge are a big part of summer football workouts, but this past Wednesday Franklin County’s Rebel football team hosted one of these events for the first time ever.
Judging by attendees’ comments and overall results, the event — tabbed as, “The Rebel Challenge” — was the first of many to come.
Rebels head coach James Carr summed up what the summer football prep action is all about.
“I’m happy with it overall,” he said this past week. “Our quarterback club was out here with great help. Parents were here to help us. We served food at rock bottom prices to people, and I think everyone who came had a good time, got some work in, and we had a good day.” Carr said.
Teams partaking in the day’s competitions were all in close proximity of Franklin County, including Tullahoma, Grundy County, Moore County, Huntland, along with Franklin County’s freshmen and varsity teams.
“The teams that attended didn’t have to drive far to get here, it’s good that we could do it here we have plenty of space available, and we have facilities that we are putting to use out here.” Carr said.
To put into perspective on just how far some teams travel to participate in events such as the one the Rebels hosted, Franklin County’s varsity just attended a similar event last week in Hendersonville at Pope John Paul II High School, which is nearly two hours driving distance away.
Huntland head coach Bob Robertson mentioned that the Rebel Challenge was the first 7-on-7 his team had been too this year.
“When I met with the coaches the first thing I told them was that this is about kids getting better, and having the opportunity to coach your kids against somebody else besides your practice squad.” Carr said
With five teams competing in the 7-on-7, and seven total groups competing in the linemen challenge, the day was filled with action from about 9 a.m. lasting till 4 p.m.
“I think all coaches joined in and participated well.” Carr said of the event. “I know that the 7-on-7 went extremely well, a lot of the coaches talked about getting a little competition against someone else.”
The 7-on-7 featured Franklin County’s freshman and varsity teams, Huntland, Grundy County, and Moore County. With four of the five teams strongly considered by most to be running teams, it was surprising and intriguing to see the balls soaring through the air.
Whether it was for including new offensive and defensive packages, or getting the opportunity to view different players at varying positions, several coaches were pleased with the competition.
“It’s a chance for us to get some work in throwing the ball, and working on our passing defense, plus the linemen are getting a chance to compete.” Robertson said about his team, following the conclusion of the 7-on-7.
Robertson had plenty to be happy with from a viewing standpoint, with senior quarterback Evans Ray whipping the ball to talented pass catchers, such as Kobe Foster, Cameron Mahaffey, and Bailey Brown amongst several others.
Huntland did not just compete. It did fairly well in the air attack, which may have some thinking of a strong passing attack at the start of the season.
New Huntland offensive coordinator Kermit Reed isn’t completely denying the notion of some opportunities to attack through the passing game, but he indicated that the decision won’t be Huntland’s.
“Like coach Robertson said to me when I was in college, ‘do what the kids are able to do,’ so if that’s something we are able to do, we will.”
Reed, referring to some wisdom his former high school coach and now co-worker gave to him, said, “It’s not about being a running or a passing team, we’re going to do what the other team tells us we can do.”
Robertson and Reed seemed happy with, not just their team, but also the entire event as a whole.
Robertson commented on the day by saying, “It’s been a good day, and I’m really proud Coach Carr invited us up here for it.”
Another interesting aspect of the day was the fact that Franklin County’s highly touted freshmen team was competing against varsity talent.
Loaded with athletes who all saw plenty of wins in their middle school careers, the freshmen Rebels took to the day’s competition as if it were just another day at the office, according to head coach Greg Roberson.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had a freshmen team play in a 7-on-7 and it was real good practice,” Roberson said, following the 7-on-7 competitions. “We got to see a lot of different offenses, and it gave the defense we are going to run this year, the secondary, some good looks.”
As Rebel football numbers continue to grow, coaches have to focus on evaluating talent, and every extra opportunity helps.
“We’ve got 60 guys on the team this year, and we have a lot of guys to evaluate and a lot got to play today, so I was happy.” Roberson mentioned of getting looks at his roster.
While the 7-on-7 pulled a majority of the attention at the day’s start, it was the linemen challenge that stole the show on the day, featuring varying speed and strength drills.
Franklin County’s offensive line broke down into two groups, also competing were the Rebel freshmen, Tullahoma, Huntland, Grundy County and Moore County.
Not just your everyday drills were a part of the linemen competition either, with a huge fan draw being the fire pull, each grouping pulled a fire truck to a certain mark and were timed.
The fire pull event also featured one of the day’s more memorable moments.
Once it came Huntland’s turn to compete, it was noticed that the team did not have the mandatory number of players. That is when rival school Moore County had to have players voluntarily walk over and grab the ropes with Huntland to complete the event.
Carr spoke highly of the act of sportsmanship.
“On a football field, on a gym floor, or on tiddlywinks we are so competitive that we can not stand each other,” Carr said of the rival schools present at the challenge.
He then continued: “But as human beings, that is what you teach, to be competitive, to fight for things, but to be a human being as well and learn how to love one another, take care of one another and stand up for what’s right.
Despite rival schools, such as Tullahoma and Franklin County, and Huntland and Moore County competing against one another, not one incident occurred on the day between all the teams present.
Carr, a former lineman, said the highlight of the day was that the linemen earned recognition and praise.
“Rarely ever do you see a lineman get rewarded for a touchdown, or for a pass, or anything like that,” Carr said. “The only trophy (awarded) today went to the linemen, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The final event, and probably the highlight of the entire challenge, was the tug-of-war.
All other competitions were done for the day, so all of the teammates and coaches were circled around to cheer on the competition.
Initially the rope couldn’t handle the team’s strength when it broke clean in two during the battle between Franklin County and Grundy County.
Grundy County ended up beating Franklin County and winning the team tug-of-war competition.
Next up was “The Tug” as the coaching staff calls it, and in shocking fashion Rebel freshman Jordan Pickett defeated three varsity competitors to be named the winner.
“How about that?” Carr excitedly remarked when asked about the impressive win by the freshman. Carr continued saying, “He, as a freshman, won the biggest part of this challenge, which is the one-on-one tug-of-war, which we call ‘the tug’ that’s where you pick out your studmuffin, and that freshman beat Tullahoma, he beat Grundy County, and that kid from Grundy County is a stud too.”
Players stepping up and performing above expectations was a common theme of the day.
“When you have this competition and everybody’s around each other cheering each other on, you see players going above what everyone expects them to do, and that’s what it’s all about, you want these kids to perform above what they are accustomed too.”