The First and Last Time you Will Hear of Methuen Rangers

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Sammy Patel

Franklin Football solidified themselves as one of the top teams in the state with a 24-7 win over Methuen

Row. The. Boat. If you were to listen to a speech given by Coach Eian Bain, those three words would undoubtedly be included in his speech. It represents the Franklin Panthers moving forward only thanks to the collective effort of the players. Although you still have stars on this football team, Friday’s win was due to every player on the team. With the 24-7 win over Methuen, the Panthers punched in their ticket to the Final Four, inching them closer to the state title.

The game didn’t start so great for Franklin. They found themselves quickly down 7-0 after Methuen put together a methodical drive. Franklin expected the Rangers to come out in wacky playsets and run some trick plays, but instead, they put together a drive to score 6. That, however, would be the end of any success that Methuen had that night.

Franklin was able to answer quickly, erasing the 7-0 deficit. They relied on star RB Mack Gulla on the first drive, where he carried the ball 7 times. He was able to break out a few times on the first drive but eventually got the Panthers into the endzone from 5 yards out. Gulla continued to show throughout the night why he is the star of the team and one of the best players in the Hock.

#21 Mack Gulla is always a problem for opposing defenses (Sammy Patel)

Franklin was able to easily handle Methuen’s offense on the ensuing drive. Drew Eason’s deep shot sailing over the receiver indicated a common theme for the night. Key plays from the secondary of the Panthers allowed for them to be successful on defense.

A tie wasn’t good enough for the offense. QB Jared Arone looked to take control of this game, and he looked to WR Will Tracey to assist him with that. With perfect ball placement from Arone, Tracey was able to moss the Methuen defender for a 23-yard TD. I honestly feel bad for the Methuen defender- there isn’t anything more that he could have done on that play. It was 14-7 now, with Franklin taking their first lead of the game.

Then, the Front 7 of the Panthers played their part by putting pressure on Eason all night; they made it hard for him to go through his reads and make the correct decision. The Front 7 is led by LB Nick Quintina and LB Cullen Pek, who were constantly breathing down Eason’s neck. DE Jonathan Martins was able to help Pek with a stop on 3rd down, but Methuen would be able to convert on 4th down. That wouldn’t go so well as they were forced to punt afterward.

The Panthers defense has always been a massive irritation for opposing QBs (Sammy Patel)

WR Will Deschenes gave the offense a good starting field position, which they would take advantage of. It only took Franklin 3 plays to get themselves into the endzone. Gulla burst out for a 32 yard TD. At this point, no one was shocked that he scored on that play, as he has been doing that all year. Any team that has faced Franklin has failed to stop Gulla, thus significantly changing the dynamics of the Panthers’ offense.

After that nothing, much happened in terms of scoring until the last 8 minutes of the game. In that period, Methuen failed to do anything as their QB was constantly irritated by the Franklin Front-7. This pressure forced Eason into many throws that were simply of the mark, limiting Methuen’s offensive production. Since their first drive, Methuen wasn’t able to get anything going.

The collective team effort of Franklin allowed for the 24-7 win (Sammy Patel)

Early in the 4th, the play of the game occurred with a 32-yard pass from Arone to Luke Davis. This wasn’t any typical 32-yard pass- it was a phenomenal play by both Arone and Davis. Arone put the ball in the perfect place, and Davis went out and got it. It might have been the play of the year for Franklin; there was no margin for error. This would help set up FG Garret Portesei┬áto put away the game 24-7.

Franklin goes into the state-semis as the favorite to win the tournament. So far, there hasn’t been any team that has figured out the Panthers’ offense, which makes them the most dangerous team in the state (D1). They will face Springfield Central on Saturday 11/20 at 11:00 A.M. at Shrewsbury High School.

Once again, a big thank you to Sammy Patel for the photos; follow him on Instagram @sammypatelphotography