By ZACH BIRDSONG
Dropping their first matchups of the year last week, Tullahoma and Franklin County will clash on Friday night at Wilkins Stadium as one team will look to move its record to 3-1 on the season.
The Rebels (2-1, 0-1) are coming off of a 42-7 road loss to Page last Friday. Tullahoma (2-1, 0-1) fell in a closer matchup, losing to Marshall County 42-35 at home on Saturday.
Against the Patriots, Franklin County hurt itself early, fumbling the ball on all four of its opening possessions. Page took advantage, turning those chances into points in the rout victory.
Franklin County uses a wing-T offense, primarily using the run. In fact, the Rebels have only tossed 19 passes all season, completing eight of those opportunities. Cameron Yarlett leads Franklin County behind center, completing six of his 16 pass opportunities on the season for 81 yards and a touchdown on the season.
In the backfield, senior running back Jarious Johnson has been the workhorse for the Rebels, carrying the ball 59 times for 302 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson scored the lone Franklin County touchdown against Page last week.
As a junior last season, Johnson gave the Wildcats’ defense fits, rushing for 185 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 first-half carries. Johnson did not play at all in the second half as the Rebels went on to pick up the 33-7 victory.
While Johnson has been the primary back for Franklin County this season, Michael Fuqua has also put up some big runs in three games his year. Fuqua has accounted for 125 yards on 12 carries on the season. Malik Braston has also run for 56 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.
While the Wildcats struggled last year to get the Rebels’ offense off of the field, Tullahoma’s defense this year has been able to create turnovers and force punts. Despite surrendering an average of 515 yards per game, the Wildcats have forced seven turnovers on the season, including three apiece against Coffee County and Shelbyville, before recovering a fumble against Marshall County last week.
The Tigers predominately used the run game to attack Tullahoma, generating 299 yards on the ground, 197 of which came in the second half. Senior running back Kamron Liggett ran for four scores against the Wildcats.
Tullahoma’s offense has had no shortage of picking up yards on its own, averaging 372 yards per contest in its last two ballgames. The Wildcats put up a season-high 392 yards against Marshall County on Saturday.
Quarterback Nic Barstad threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns in that matchup against the Tigers, completing 22 of his 35 opportunities. Barstad had two leading receivers on the day, as running back Amauri Burks hauled in nine passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, while Race Marin brought in seven catches for 102 yards.
Amauri also rushed for another score and returned a punt for a touchdown, putting up a four-touchdown performance against the Tigers. On top of his receiving numbers, Amauri also added 83 yards on 15 carries against Marshall County.
Behind center, Barstad has been solid for the Wildcats, completing 49 of his 74 pass attempts on the year for 727 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Amauri has reeled in 15 of those receptions for 313 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
Marin and Kobe Burks have also reeled in a combined 20 catches on the season. Marin has 11 receptions for 194 yards and a touchdown while Kobe has nine catches for 107 yards and two scores.
Amauri has rushed for an average of 92 yards per contest and two touchdowns on the season, including a season-high 146 yards and a touchdown against Coffee County on Aug. 25.
Game day information
Before Friday night’s contest, there will be a tailgate party at 3 p.m. at Frazier McEwin Park. The band will be playing and fans can meet the 2017 THS football team and cheerleaders. Free T-shirts will be given to the first 200 kindergarten through eighth-grade students who show up to the tailgate party.
Tickets for Friday night’s matchup can be purchased at Tullahoma High School until noon on Friday or at the gates for $6. Kickoff will get underway at 7 p.m.
For those unable to make Saturday’s contest, the game will be broadcast on 93.9 The Duck. Live scoring updates will also be available by following The News’ Sports Editor Zach Birdsong on Twitter, @ZachBirdsong. Updates can also be seen on Facebook by liking The Tullahoma News Sports Page.