Jackets, Eagles look to stay grounded


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Franklin County isn’t familiar with Osbourn Park’s offense, the Single Wing. Eagles coach Billy Miles said the offense is difficult to prepare for: A scout team, in three days, can’t be expected to know the nuances of an unusual system that, come game time, will be executed by personnel who have run it for a full season.

The last time Miles prepared for the Single Wing, he was an assistant at Salem when the Spartans beat Park View-Sterling in the Group AA, Division 4 state final in 2000.

In some respects, Osbourn Park isn’t familiar with Franklin County’s offense. The Eagles’ multiple-I is a run-first, run-right-at-you offense. Jackets’ coach Brian Beaty has seen run-first offenses, but most try to trick the defense.

“Around here they run a lot of misdirection,” said Beaty, “but [Franklin] will come right at you. They run the ‘I’ like Forest Park.”

Those two offensive styles — one relying on deception, the other on brute strength — will clash when Osbourn Park hosts Franklin County in the first round of the Group AAA, Division 6, Northwest Region playoffs tonight.

As would be expected with an I-formation, the tailback is the featured back. For Franklin County (9-1), that’s LeBryan Patterson: He’s rushed 207 times for 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Last season, Patterson became the Eagles’ all-time single-season rushing leader — a record he broke once again this season.

Miles sees similarities between Patterson and tonight’s counterpart.

“He’s a lot like Roland Hilliard. They’re both undersized a bit, but they’re good at finishing off runs,” Miles explained. “He’s a good, tough kid, and he’s one of our leaders.”

Eagle fullback Brian Huff can also expect to see the ball, but the stats say he’ll carry half as much as Patterson. This year, Huff has 528 yards and seven scores on 102 carries. Quarterback Daniel Bowles is the usual starter, but sometimes he’ll be spelled by Daniel Brooks, a quicker player that can run the option. Among the receivers, Patrick Preston leads the way with 10 catches.

“They’re pretty straightforward, they’re well-coached and their offensive line does a good job,” said Beaty. “They’ve got a good back, and they’re coming right at you … They move the ball well.”

The Eagles’ power offense will try to keep that success going against a Yellow Jacket defense that has recorded seven shutouts this season. Even with OP’s 49-0 loss to Hylton early in the season, the Jackets (9-1) have given up just 6.2 points per game.

“Our defense has been successful, and you don’t want to change up too much,” said Beaty. “We’re preparing like it’s a regular-season game, but we know if you lose you go home. But I don’t think it presents any problems, as far as not having seen any of it before.”

Miles said he won’t change much defensively as the Eagles try to contend with OP’s Single Wing and Hilliard, who has rushed for 1,175 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

The Eagles’ defense includes linebacker William Turner, who was recently named the Western Valley District’s Defensive Player of the Year.

“They’ve got some big kids,” Beaty said, “and they do a good job in coverage, of assignment football. We’ve got to take care of the ball, and mix it up.”

“[The Single Wing] is very difficult to simulate in practice with the scout team. It’s tough to prepare for,” said Miles. “You’ve got to make sure the kids always have their eyes up.”

Franklin County, which is making its first-ever playoff appearance in school history, is also known for its conditioning. In some games, they’ve been able to wear out opponents with a higher energy level as the game winds down.

That’s not too much of a concern for Beaty, who feels like his team has fully recovered after the layoff — and subsequent quick makeup of games — after the sniper attacks.

“The kids have worked hard, they ran on their own [during the layoff],” said Beaty, who directed the Yellow Jackets to their first playoff berth since 1988. “I think we’ve got our second wind.”

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