The Franklin Lions (8-2) will await the #23 Natalia Mustangs (7-3) in the Area Playoffs Friday night in Cedar Park, Texas at Gupton Stadium. Franklin is coming off a 48-19 win over the Van Vleck Leopards as Natalia is coming off a 42-14 victory over Hebbronville.
The Franklin Lions are playoff bound for the 14th straight year as Natalia is headed to the Area Playoffs for the 6th or 7th time in playoff history and just their fourth time since 1988.
“I had the opportunity to watch Franklin vs. Van Vleck and they are very impressive,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “We are going to have to be very detailed in our preparation. They have the ability to put you away early, if you make mistakes.”
The Lions opened the season with a 21-20 loss to Lorena followed by a 37-8 loss to a really good Cameron Yoe squad. Since then, the #2 state ranked Lions have defeated the following squads by the following points: Lexington 49-14, Riesel 63-21, Rogers 52-35, Florence 63-6, Buffalo 69-38, Clifton 47-0, Van Vleck 58-19.
“They base their offense out of a Slot-T formation and they have a stable of backs they can go to,” Martinez said. “They have #24, #15, #12 and their QB #5 who are very talented. They have speed and run the ball hard and we will have their hands full trying to slow down that backfield.”
Defensively, Franklin will run a 3-4 cover 2/4 set.
“They are very sound in their base defense and have the secondary to take away the deep threat,” Martinez said. “Their D-Line comes off the ball well and their LB’s are downhill players. They don’t make many mistakes on defense and they just do a really good job of running to the ball and waiting on you to make mistakes.”
The Natalia Mustangs will have their hands full defensively and will have to play tit for tat with the Lions offensively. Natalia will have to find a way to win the war up front in order to have a shot at truly being successful due to the speed Franklin has defensively.
“We are going to have to be effective and efficient on offense and our best defense will be a good offense,” Martinez said. “Defensively, we are going to have to take away their big plays and try to create negative plays when we get the opportunity. We will have to limit our mistakes and be great tacklers.”
Just as Franklin has 4-5 weapons, so does Natalia and each and every game a separate Stang steps up and Friday night the same will be needed.
“They are very physical and very talented and we are going to bring our best game,” Martinez said. “We are excited about the challenge and opportunity.”
Kickoff is set
Tickets are on sale via the Natalia ISD Social Media sites for the Friday Night area game. Gupton Stadium seats 11,000 fans, so it will not be an issue getting tickets for the game.
Be sure to come early, be loud, stay late and wear blue as you cheer on the Stangs vs. the Lions. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Cedar Park! #GoBlue #TTP
By Eric Smith