Darr has players on march in final season at Franklin

October 14, 1994|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

When Claude Darr informed his players at the end of last season that he would coach football only one more year at Franklin, the underclassmen pledged to make his 25th and final season a memorable one.

So far, the Indians haven't let him down.

Five weeks into the season, Franklin is 5-0 and its hopes for a playoff berth and an undefeated record are still alive.

"Coach Darr is our sergeant and we're his soldiers," said senior wingback Curtis Williams, referring to Darr's tradition of having his players march onto the field in military fashion while he calls cadence.

"Coach has been around for a long time and we all want to see him go out on top."

All 22 of Darr's players, many sophomores and juniors, would give anything for the same opportunity Franklin had in 1978, when the Indians went to the state final, where they lost to Friendly.

They would even settle for a remake of the 1985 season, when the Indians went 10-0 before bowing to Frederick in the first round of the playoffs.

But, as a 3A school -- Baltimore County's smallest -- playing a 1A-2A schedule, everyone associated with Franklin's program realizes that not even an undefeated record will guarantee a playoff berth.

xTC "We've been talking about how the 3A-4A schools have been getting more recognition than us and how we don't get any respect because of the schedule we play, but what they have to realize is that we didn't have any control over what schedule we play," said Franklin quarterback Chris Demetrakis, who was still in junior high in 1988, the last time Franklin started the season at 5-0.

"We've been winning, but we're still not ranked so we must not have gained any respect.

"I guess we're going to have to start blowing out some teams and winning more convincingly to show everyone how good we are. We know we have to go at least 9-1 to make it to the playoffs, so we're not looking by anyone."

The Indians certainly weren't looking past Loch Raven last weekend, as they pounded the Raiders, 39-6. Before that, they recorded victories over South Hagerstown (21-14), Chesapeake-BC (34-6), Catonsville (25-22) and Milford Mill (14-8).

Darr won't go as far as to say his team would have the same unblemished record if it were playing a 3A-4A league schedule, but he believes his team still would be enjoying some success, regardless of the population of the opposing school.

"I really don't think there's much of a difference in the two leagues," said Darr. "I think, even if we were in the 3A-4A league, we would still be in good shape."

Franklin's veteran coach attributes his team's success to balance in all areas of the game. One example he likes to use is the Indians' scoring balance. In its first five games, Franklin has outscored its opponents, 133-56, with points coming from 10 players.

With linemen like Danny Johns, Mike Hartman and Marc Sommerville opening holes for running back Kenny Vialva and giving Demetrakis time to throw to favorite targets Edwin Aponte (seven catches, 224 yards, four touchdowns) and Williams (10 catches, 129 yards, two touchdowns), Franklin's offense has been difficult to stop.

Equally impressive has been the Indians' defensive unit, which Darr describes as "not big, but fairly quick and well-balanced."

With only 22 players, Darr's only real concern is depth. If the Indians stay healthy, he sees no reason why they can't go undefeated.

"Quite frankly," said Darr, "if we don't go 10-0, we shouldn't go to the playoffs."

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