For six straight football seasons, the Franklins and Marshes have carried the running burden for Perry Hall High School.
Since the Gators became a power with an 8-2 record in 1988 and Vernon Franklin at fullback, one family (and sometimes both) has contributed heavily to the team's crunching ground game.
The tradition will end after this year when fullback Mark Franklin and tailback Mandel Marsh are graduated, but for now, the youngest of the brothers continue to punish Baltimore County opponents.
"We've had a great run with these kids, but now we're running out of them," said coach Joe Stoy. "They've been hard workers who have helped to make our program work."
Both players will be on center stage tomorrow when 14th-ranked Perry Hall plays host to undefeated Woodlawn in the showcase clash of the county's 3A-4A season.
"We're playing it up as a big game," Stoy said. "Our first goal is always the county title. Under the state point system, you don't know if you're going to qualify, so you don't worry about it. If we make the playoffs, we make them. That takes care of itself."
"We know what's at stake," added Marsh. "This one is always a good battle."
Franklin said, "It's a special one because everything always seems to come down to us two teams."
Marsh's brother Roy is the school's all-time rushing leader with more than 3,000 yards as a three-year starter. Currently at Ohio State on a baseball scholarship, he was a nick faster (4.4 seconds in the 40) than Mandel (4.5) and stronger.
"He was definitely faster, but I don't know about better," said Mandel, who will not challenge his brother's record because he played in a spot role as a sophomore. "But he was a very exciting player."
So is Roy's younger sibling, who gained 1,011 yards on the ground last season, has 353 rushing and 200 receiving this year and has scored a team-high 38 points.
A dangerous open-field runner because of his speed, Mandel is often isolated on pass plays and can break for a touchdown at any time.
On the other hand, Franklin, a solid 200-pounder, is a workhorse, Mr. Inside of the tandem. He also gained more than 1,000 yards last season, currently has 379 and has scored six touchdowns, one on a 55-yard punt return.
"My brother taught me to be strong and play with heart," he said of Vernon, also a captain as a senior.
"It's good now because Mandel is fast and we work together well."
The statistics could be even more impressive if Stoy were inclined to win by big scores. But against inferior opposition, Marsh and Franklin often take an early seat with victories already in hand.
Franklin is also a starter on the basketball team, and Marsh plays center field for the baseball squad and runs indoor track.
They had a legacy left by their brothers to follow. Now, they will leave their own legacy, but someone outside the families will have to follow it.
Like his brother, Marsh said he has received feelers about playing college baseball but "right now I'm just waiting. Football's my favorite. There's a lot more glamour."
WINNING THEM OVER
Perry Hall's regular-season record with Franklins and Marshes:
1988 -- 8-2
1989 -- 10-0
1990 -- 7-3
1991 -- 7-3
1992 -- 9-1
1993 -- 4-1
Total -- 45-10