Seahawks fall in preseason opener

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A rough second half cost the Seahawks Friday, as they fell 26-6 in an away pre-season game at Jacksonville’s Harvest Community School.

Knotted at 6-6 at the half and 14-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks allowed two late scores by the Warriors.

Franklin County’s lone touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from freshman Garyson Millender to sophomore Amontaye Austin.

“The team played hard and everyone got to play,” said Coach Dirk Strunk. “We were wanting to see how our young players would handle the speed of the game.  Overall, we were pleased with the effort our kids gave.

“We still have a lot to work on, but things are definitely headed in the right direction,” he said.

The Franklin County football team is expecting major growth from their young roster after a rebuilding 2020 season.

In the bizarre pandemic-stricken year, depth was a major issue for the team, and while they still possess a roster on the lower end with numbers, Strunk, said they’re returning almost 75 percent of the previous squad.

“Having a roster of 30, you know, you’re only one play away if you’re not a starter,” Strunk said. “Last year, we didn’t play a single game last year with the same starting lineup on either side of the ball, so we have a lot of kids coming back with playing experience, some of them because they were starters and some of them because they were thrown into starting roles just because of COVID or injuries.”

The Seahawks will still be young this year with only a handful of seniors on the team, so some of the leaders have taken on new responsibilities.

“Last year I was on the offensive line, but now I stepped in at running back this year,” senior Will Varnes said. “And we got more guys out here, and we go harder in practice and everything, it’s just good out here.”

Franklin County will be led by junior quarterback Evan Stanley, who coaches and teammates say has grown leaps in bounds in his game. But it’s the overall buy-in from the 2021 crew, said senior slot-receiver Larry Winchester, that is their biggest improvement.

“We had a whole bunch of people that didn’t really want to play or help out and do stuff and put in extra work or work in general,” Winchester said. “But this year we have a whole bunch of freshmen and a little bit older kids that got a little bit of experience.”

The team is entering their second season under Strunk, and he especially has noticed a different hunger amongst his players.

“They come out every day working because they don’t want to lose out on reps and they get frustrated and that’s a good thing,” Strunk said. “When kids are getting frustrated because they want more reps, and then all of a sudden they’re fighting to get in, doing anything extra they can to kind of be like, hey look coach I’m ready to go, that’s a positive thing.”

The Seahawks will hit the road this week to take on Bell this Friday, August 27. Bell is in Gilchrist County, northwest of Gainesville, about three hours east of Franklin County.

Star editor David Adlerstein assisted with this story.

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