Franklin’s versatility key for Central’s defense

Central's Saxon Franklin looks to the sidelines during their game earlier this season against Skyline High School in Front Royal.  Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Saxon Franklin looks to the sidelines during their game earlier this season against Skyline High School in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Saxon Franklin can do a little bit of everything for Central on defense.

The senior will sometimes line up at linebacker. Sometimes he’ll move up on the defensive line and come off the edge. Other times he’ll play at his official spot at safety. Wherever he plays Franklin is just fine with it.

“I love playing different positions,” Franklin said. “You get different perspectives. You get to know what other people are doing on a weekly basis. You’re not stuck in your own world.”

Central coach Mike Yew said he usually ends up having one guy each season who is able to help out and play a few different positions on defense, and he said that Franklin fits that role perfectly this season. Franklin was a first-team All-Bull Run District selection at the all-purpose slot on defense.

“He runs well and he tackles well,” Yew said. “He can be physical. So he kind of is the best that we’ve had at that in a while, doing that, playing that position — being kind of a hybrid.”

It’s a bit of the same for Franklin on offense. He plays at wide receiver and has three catches for 83 yards and one touchdown for the Falcons this season.

Yew said he’s also a very good blocker, and Franklin said he enjoys being a blocker when needed.

Franklin said if given a choice he prefers playing defense and he loves to make tackles. He has 54 tackles this season for Central, including 38 solo tackles.

“I like being efficient at what I do. If that means I have to tackle a lot of people then I tackle a lot of people. If I need to take a game off and cover more that’s what I’ll do,” Franklin said. “It’s a team sport. It’s not Saxon ball, it’s football. And if you play defense and you can play whole heartedly and selflessly you’re not just doing yourself a favor, you’re doing the other 10 people on the field a favor. And that’s what’s important to me.”

Franklin chose not to play football last year, after playing at the varsity level his sophomore season. He said he’s very happy that he chose to come back this year.

“It’s definitely sweet,” Franklin said. “It’s definitely a lot sweeter than I think it would have been because it is something that I did miss. So coming back and getting to play, and especially play with the people that I really enjoy playing with. I love my class I love my senior class. We put a lot into the program. So I think coming back and playing with them makes it that much sweeter.”

Franklin is also a standout in track and field and has enjoyed a lot of success in the sport throughout his career in both running and jumping events.

He said there are some things from track he carries with him to the football field.

“I think the fact that it is mental, you’re running in a freakin’ circle. You got to do it as fast as you can, breathing and focusing on nothing else just that. That helps that translate back over (to football),” Franklin said. “Also with jumping, you’re focusing on the board, not staring at it but you know it’s there. You’re aware of everything that’s around you, but you also have to do everything you can to the best of your ability and keeping your mind clear while you’re doing it. You can’t let yourself get distracted. I think that’s what I’ve taken away from track and translated over to football.”

Central will play at East Rockingham in the Region 2A East quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday.

This year on the football field Franklin has family with him. Saxon Franklin’s brother Declan is also on the varsity squad. Declan Franklin is a sophomore and is also having a solid season with 21 tackles.

Saxon Franklin said it has been really special having his brother out on the field with him.

“I know I can trust him, but I know that if he does something wrong he’s going to ask me for help. That’s what he’s going to do,” Saxon Franklin said. “…He loves football, probably loves the sport more than I do. It’s what he loves to do. I love knowing that I’m not just making my senior year the best it can be, I’m making his first varsity year the best it can be and to me that’s important.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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