Beyond the Scoreboard: Franklin ready for either Pisgah quarterback in playoff battle

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FILE - Beyond the Scoreboard: Franklin ready for either Pisgah quarterback in playoff battle (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Playing Pisgah High for the second time in four weeks, you would think Franklin coach Josh Brooks would know what to expect going into Friday night’s second-round game in the Class 2AA football playoffs.

But the veteran coach has Plan A and Plan B installed for the 11th-seeded Bears (7-5) when they visit No. 3 Franklin (12-0) in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The need for an alternative game plan is because Brooks doesn’t know who will start under center for Pisgah.

Junior quarterback Tanner Wike has accounted for more than 5,000 total yards in two seasons, including 1,322 passing and 896 rushing yards this season, with a combined 30 touchdowns.

But an undisclosed injury caused him to miss last week’s playoff game with No. 6 Wilkes Central, and freshman Korey Griffith had a memorable debut, completing 15-of-24 passes for 225 yards and two scores to key a 34-20 win.

Pisgah coach Brett Chappell didn’t return messages seeking comment on his quarterback plans for Franklin, and Brooks said his defense – which has held eight opponents to 13 points or less, with three shutouts – will be ready for whoever starts at QB.

“We are prepared in case both of them plays,” said Brooks, who is 115-40 with the Panthers.

“Looking at the percentages, when Wike is the quarterback, they are about 75 percent run. The other night, when (Griffith) played, they were about 45 percent pass.

“The first time we played Pisgah (a 17-13 win on Oct. 27), Wike carried the ball 19 times, but the other night Griffith carried it just once. That’s a pretty big contrast.”

No matter who plays, Brooks does know what to expect from the Bears in terms of formations.

“They have multiple formations, and I mean a lot of very complicated stuff. Because their (junior varsity team) runs the same offense, Griffith was able to step tight in and run their stuff.”

A Franklin defense led by Carrington (120 tackles) and A.J. Carpenter (90 stops) does know there will be a difference between a two-year starter and a youngster starting his second game in a hostile environment.

“You’ve got an experienced quarterback like Wike who has won big games or you have literally a freshman in a playoff atmosphere,” said Brooke.

“If it’s Griffith, we hope to put some pressure on him, and if it’s Wike, we know what to expect because he’s a really good player.”

A healthy Franklin offense that averages 289 yards rushing per game managed just 188 on the ground vs. Pisgah, but quarterback Andrew Moore adjusted with 157 yards passing and a touchdown.

The Panthers’ ground game is versatile, with Brock Kloeppel (1,237 yards, 21 TDs), Grant Stiles (1,116 yards, 19 TDs) and Carpenter (688 yards, 9 scores) all potent ball carriers.

The all-time series with the two schools is tied at 11-11, and the winner advances to the third round next week against No. 2 Hibriten (12-0) or No. 10 Patton (9-3).

Franklin is looking to improve to 13-0 for the first time since 2011.