Franklin, McClellan, Wright Play Key Roles In Signal Mountain Success

Three Eagle Seniors Looking To Improve As 2013 Season Begins

Thursday, August 15, 2013 - by John Hunt

Last year’s football season was like a roller coaster ride for the Signal Mountain Eagles.

They got embarrassed in the season opener when East Hamilton put a 55-14 whipping on them as they began the season with three losses in the first four games.

The Eagles turned things around and won some key contests to finish the season on a six-game winning streak and a District 7-AA title.

Unfortunately, the Eagles hit a bump in the road in the opening round of the TSSAA playoffs and the season was over in a hurry when visiting Page outscored them in overtime, 42-41.

That’s a loss that the Eagles have put behind them, but one they’ll surely never forget.

This year’s Signal Mountain team appears to be a bit more talented than last year.  The Eagles have 16 returning starters, including eight on offense and eight on defense.  There are 16 seniors on this year’s team, including Diamez Franklin, James McClellan IV and Jacob Wright.

Signal Mountain coach Bill Price has expectations for his team as always, but for these three in particular.

Franklin is a 6-1, 205 pounder who is a running back and one of the defensive leaders at free safety.  The Eagles have used a two-platoon system in the past, but Franklin is the only player who’ll go both ways.

McClellan is a six-foot, 250-pound rock who has been a defensive tackle in the past, but will be used strictly as a fullback this fall.

Wright may be the biggest player on the team at 6-5 and 265 pounds, but don’t be misled by his size.  He’s also one of the quickest defenders on the roster.

“We weren’t very good defensively last year, so we just tried to outscore people,” Price said before a recent practice.

“We have a lot of outstanding football players on this team, but those three are some of the best.  We’ll be a lot more physical this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

“Diamez missed a  lot of playing time a year ago with two separated shoulders, but he’s a leader and he knows what our expectations are,” the coach expressed.

“We moved James to fullback after the fourth game where he had been a defensive tackle.  He’s a big guy and you know I like big running backs.  He’ll be a real presence in our running game, but he still isn’t as good a shape as I’d like.

“Jacob is a three-year starter whose engine is always running.  He’s very athletic for a big guy, but we do a lot with him up front.  He has exceptional speed and quickness for someone his size,” Price continued.

All three of these players are confident that 2013 will be better than 2012.

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll do some things this year,” said Franklin before heading out to the practice field.

“I like to hit, but I also like to score.  We’ve gotten a whole lot better than we were, but we need to keep improving and stay humble.  We have a major point to prove, said the two-year starter who transferred from Tyner.

Franklin gained almost 800 years ago and averaged more than a touchdown per game.  Defensively, he had three interceptions, including one that he returned for a TD.

McClellan certainly isn’t lacking for confidence.

“I’m expecting us to go all the way this year,” he began with a serious tone.

“I had a good year last fall, but it could have been better.  I just have to go hard on every play.  I’m pretty fast to be big guy and I’m faster than I was a year ago.  I don’t mind running over people, but I can use my speed to juke them and go on by.

“This is my final season.  I’m ready to give it my all,” McClellan concluded.

Wright was late for practice this particular afternoon and didn’t get as long to talk as the others.

“I just want to make my senior year the best of all.  We have to play together, but we need to practice like we want to play.

“I’m pretty big, but I like to use my speed to get past offensive linemen,” Wright said before racing onto the field.

It should be an interesting battle in the 7-AA race as Signal Mountain and Notre Dame are both picked at the top.

The Eagles will get a quick chance to redeem themselves as they host East Hamilton in the season opener on Aug. 23.

Another key game will take place on Oct. 4 when they host Notre Dame.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


UTC Tennis Senior Flynn Relies on Faithful Friends

Life is good for UTC senior tennis player Alexa Flynn. Or so it seems. A first team all-Southern Conference doubles player, with a 3.7 GPA and headed to law school in a couple of years. She and her Chattanooga teammates have had a great season (17-4, 7-2), are poised to make a run at the SoCon team championship and open tournament play today at 3 p.m. against ... (click for more)

CCS Golfer Anna Pope Signs with Austin Peay

What do Chattanooga Christian senior Anna Pope and Michael “You Better Eat Your Wheaties” Jordan have in common? They were both cut from their basketball teams and took up golf. “I was cut from the sixth grade basketball team and since middle school golf is a spring sport (varsity golf is played in the fall), and follows basketball I thought I would try ... (click for more)

Haslam Signs Bill Ending Forced Annexation And Giving Tennesseans Right To Vote

Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 2371/SB2464 on Wednesday. The law ends forced annexations and gives Tennesseans the right to vote. The law now requires cities to annex by consent of the landowner or through referendum approved by a majority of the landowners to be annexed. As an additional protection to farmers, land primarily used for agriculture purposes may not be annexed by any ... (click for more)

One Of "Worst Of The Worst" Gets 10-Month Federal Sentence

One of the men labeled as the "worst of the worst" in a Chattanooga roundup was sentenced Tuesday to 10 months and three years supervised release after he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Guy Wilkerson told Federal Judge Sandy Mattice, "I'm just a young father and I want the best for my kids." He said he apologized and that he knew what he ... (click for more)

Time For Tennessee To Act On Climate This Earth Day - And Response

Tennessee will join the rest of the southeast region, the nation and countries across the world in celebrating Earth Day on April 22. The entire month of April is a great time to reflect on the strides we have made to reduce pollution over the last 44 years, and assess current environmental conditions while evaluating our personal responsibility to a cleaner environment.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Jim Coppinger Excels

Jim Coppinger, who as the mayor of Hamilton County has understandably had to grow some thick skin, wants no part of the repulsive billboards now seen around town that ask, “Do you have gonorrhea?”  His Tuesday morning telephone call revealed he is just as disgusted as the rest of us who see them showing a picture of a forlorn African-American male. “You need to know the Hamilton ... (click for more)