Franklin County in transition

Published 12:45 am Sunday, June 8, 2008

MEADVILLE — Its been a busy two years for the Franklin County High football team. After winning state in 2006 and going back to the finals in 2007, former coach Grady McCluskey left for Columbus after Christmas and new coach Trent Hammond was hired two weeks before Easter.

Hammond, who coached at Water Valley last year, is no stranger to championship rings. He served on the staff of two past state champions in McComb (2000) and Lawrence County (1999), when both collected 4A hardware.

“Basically it’s been a transistion period for me and for (players),” Hammond said. “We had a good spring and got a chance to work on a lot of things.”

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The Bulldogs wrapped up spring with a team scrimmage, and started the long and hot summer workout conditioning program with weight room sessions three times a week and 7-on-7 practices.

“We keep the weight room open twice a day, four times a week” Hammond said. “Once in the morning and once in the evening. So far we’ve had a good turn out, averaging around 40 players a day.”

One reason many of the players have been showing up to work out during the off season may be the upperclassmen’s 2006 championship rings.

“It’s pretty nice having the rings,” said returning junior center Gavin Weathers who was a freshmen reserve on the 2006 team. “It’s makes you want to work even harder to get another one.”

Hammond, who has spent most of days getting to know his players and coaches better has been impressed with the teams leaders as well as rising seniors Jamie Collins, Jordan Hunt and Alex Smith, among others.

“A lot of our leaders are here early and working out,” Hammond said. “That’s always a positive.”

Smith, Franklin County’s dual threat running back/defensive back has already committed to USM as one of state’s top players in the Class of 2009. Collins, a 6-4, 210-pound quarterback/safety has offers from Auburn, USM, Ole Miss and Memphis to name a few. Hunt, the Bulldogs multi-down linebacker/fullback has received heavy interest from Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

“Everybody knows about these guys, but we have others as well that are very athletic,” Hammond said. “We’ve got to have guys to step up this fall for us to have the kind of season we want to have.”

The Bulldogs will begin fall practice in early August which will conclude with a pre-season Fall Classic a week before the season-opener.

Franklin County takes on Hazlehurst, Aug. 29 in Meadville.