BARDSTOWN – At halftime of Franklin County’s season-opening 62-41 win Friday night at Nelson County, there were apparently some on the side of the FCHS blue and gold worried that the Flyers’ offense was scoring so fast, the Flyers’ defense wasn’t getting enough time to catch its breath.
That led to an up and down half of football that saw Franklin County leading 27-20 at the break over the host Cardinals.
At the halftime break, Nelson County had run 36 plays from scrimmage, to 15 for Franklin County, with the hosts rolling up 263 yards of offense. The Flyers were ahead because their offense and special teams came up with big play after big play.
In other words, Franklin County – on this one night at least – looked not all that different from last season’s 11-1 bunch that outscored everybody until a shattering 84-48 loss to Conner in the state playoffs.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Guys, we can complain all we want about scoring real fast and stuff, but the fact of the matter is, they’re giving us an opportunity to play defense and we’re just letting them go,’” Franklin County coach Chris Tracy said. “‘It’s as much the defense’s fault as it is the offense scoring fast.’ It’s frustrating in the sense that our kids have to realize that they have to gut it up a little bit on third down and get the ball back to the offense.”
For the record, here’s a rundown of the Franklin County scoring plays in that first half: A 60-yard kickoff return by Isaiah Lee that brought FCHS back within 6-7 of the Cardinals; a 54-yard scoring pass in the flat by quarterback Logan Woodside that Ryan Timmons took to paydirt for a 13-7 lead; a 65-yard pass from Woodside to Chris Roberts that Roberts caught in the flat and took for a score, and finally, a one-yard plunge by Woodside for a touchdown in the closing second of the half that immediately followed a 68-yard run by Lorenzo McCaskell.
The Flyers then took the second-half kickoff and scored in two plays following a kickoff return by Roberts of some 78 yards. Woodside capped the ensuing nine-yard “drive” with a 2-yard touchdown.
Yet another extra point by Franklin County’s kicker, Zack Durham, put the Flyers up 34-20 early third period.
And while the Cardinals did not go away until midway through the fourth quarter, there was never any compelling reason to believe Franklin County would lose this game.
Because, after all, speed kills, at least when one team has it – in this case, the Flyers – and the other team – in this case, Nelson County – does not.
“We talked to them before the game, ‘Now guys, get ready, because the speed you think you saw in practice is nowhere near what you are going to see here the first 10 minutes of the game,’” Nelson County coach Jamie Egli said. “We did a decent job in the beginning, but, you know, Timmons is going to make plays, the quarterback (Woodside) is going to make plays...And we didn’t help ourselves with special teams and four turnovers.
“You can’t give a team that many good opportunities. You just can’t. When they executed on offense, they couldn’t be stopped.”
Tracy was correct to note that the Flyers’ defense did play better in the late stages of the game, which is why Franklin County was able to stretch the lead to as much as 62-34 midway through the fourth quarter.
Nelson County senior quarterback Dylan Beasley hit 22 of 33 for 360 yards on the night, and the Cardinals have several good receivers and backs that hurt FCHS here and there, but the Flyers made it harder on the potent Cards as the second half dragged on.
“We made some scheme adjustments in the second half, and our kids stepped up, and I’m proud of that,” Tracy said. “They did a good job adjusting on the run and getting it done.
“We’re going to have to get better defensively, and I think we will, I really do. It doesn’t necessarily show it, but we’re at a better point right now than we were last year at this time.”
There were, in fact, two defensive plays by the Flyers that proved to be momentum changers. The first one came midway through the first half, with the Flyers trailing 14-13 and the Cardinals driving.
Zane Metcalf of Franklin County recovered a NCHS fumble at the Flyers’ 30, and Woodside then made the 65-yard connection to Roberts on 3rd-and-5 for the brief, 20-13, FCHS lead.
The other defensive play came midway through the fourth quarter with FCHS up 48-34 and Nelson County facing a 4th-and-4 at the Franklin County four-yard line.
After a questionable pass interference call gave the Cardinals a first down, the host team then fumbled again, and McCaskell picked it up and ran some 98 yards for the score that sealed it.
It was one of several huge plays by McCaskell, a junior, in this game.
“We knew about his ability and his potential,” Tracy said of McCaskell. “I think he is starting to understand what he’s capable of. The light switch has flipped. He understands what’s going on now. He knows he has to work hard in practice.”
The second-half Franklin County scores included a 57-yard pass from Woodside to Timmons; a 58-yard touchdown pass from Woodside to McCaskell and a 24-yard run by Landon Hurst.
Woodside was six of nine passing for some 266 yards with no interceptions. Timmons caught three passes for 133 yards and Roberts caught two passes for 77 yards.
McCaskell caught one pass for 58 yards and ran twice for 73 yards.
“Franklin County is one of the best teams in the state, outside of the privates up there in Louisville,” Egli said. “Skill-wise, there may not be a better team.”
The Flyers play at Western Hills Friday.