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)


Hamilton Heights Beats Our Savior On Ado Free Throw

Hamilton Heights, ranked No. 2 in Tennessee by MaxPreps.com, defeated Our Savior of New York City, 47-46, Friday when Abdulhakim Ado hit a free throw with two seconds left in the National Association of Christian Athletes national tournament at Fort Bluff. Ado’s victory-clinching free throw capped a comeback that saw the Hawks overcome an 18-point deficit in the third quarter. ... (click for more)

Dalton State Women's Golf To Play This Weekend At Callaway Gardens

Pine Mountain, GA – The (8) Dalton State women’s golf team began their first ever spring schedule this morning with the first day of the two-day Callaway Open at the Par-71, 5808 yards Callaway Gardens Lakeview Course. “We are excited to get the spring season underway,” Roadrunner golf coach Jim McGrew said today. “The girls have worked extremely hard in tough conditions ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Secret Train Ride

It was during Christmas of 2003 when Bennett Levin and his wife found themselves talking and worrying about the wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and at the nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital. Their wish was that they could do something meaningful, something really grand, for the soldiers who had lost limbs, their eyesight, and far worse. As ... (click for more)