The School Newspaper of Franklin High School


The School Newspaper of Franklin High School


The School Newspaper of Franklin High School


FRANKLIN FOOTBALL: Davide Records 4 TDs en route to Panthers Home Opener Victory

Hunter Smith

It was a hot, literally and metaphorically, start to the football team’s 2023 campaign. Amidst an unprecedented heatwave, the Franklin Panthers hosted the Wachusett Mountaineers in front of raucous Rattle City who showed out in all white. The start of Friday Night Lights (but in some cases this season, Thursday Night Light) always brings massive anticipation, excitement, and questions. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back Kelly Rex Crowns and come into the season highly ranked within the state. However, there were questions before Thursday night about how Coach Bain and the Panthers would compensate for the seniors who graduated last year.

Those questions were answered on Thursday Night though, as the Panthers pioneered a dominant second half, where they scored 23 straight unanswered points to secure a week one victory of 36-14. 

It was not all easy sailing for the Panthers though. After 2 punts, 1 for each team, the Panthers got some momentum going off a big punt return from Derek Dubriske (Sr.). James Bruso (So.) was at the helm of the offense Thursday, making his first varsity start filling in for injured starter Justin Bianchetto (Jr.). The Panthers would try to relieve some pressure from Bruso by relying on the run heavily. Mike Davide (Sr.) who would end up with a whopping 202 yards and 4 TDs, started off his night with 2 runs with the latter punching the Panthers into the endzone giving them an early 7-0 lead.

Davide would start the scoring on Thursday night recording his first of 4 touchdowns (Hunter Smith)

The Mountaineers would respond immediately with a big kick return and drive down the field to tie the game at 7 a piece. However, after a few possessions, Dubriske would get the momentum going again for the Panthers with a big punt return down into Wachusett Territories. With the aid of penalties, Franklin found themselves in the red zone where Davide would punch his second TD of the day to make the game 13-7 (the XP was missed). 

Once again Wachusett motored right down the field to score, and take a one-point lead, 13-14. It was going to be hard for the Panthers to win this game if they failed to maintain their momentum through the game. Franklin ran a 2-minute drill in an attempt to sneak in some points before Halftime. Stephon Reed (So.) hauled in an incredible one-handed toe-tap grab, and then followed it up with a reception over the middle of the field to put the Panthers into field goal range. However a sack would put Franklin in the deep part of field goal range, and unfortunately, they couldn’t convert their drive into any points. The Panthers entered half down one. 

Sophmore Stephon Reed had a catch-of-the-year candidate in his first varsity start (Hunter Smith)

This game was a story of 2 halves though. The Panthers continued the momentum as a massive run from Davide out of the hall got the Panthers to field goal range. The Panthers would attempt another field goal which would be blocked keeping them in a one-point deficit. 

Franklin’s defense would deny Wachusett any chances of stealing the momentum of the game back forcing them into a three-and-out. However, the Panthers couldn’t do much with that next offensive possession so the ball went right back to the Mountaineers. 

However, this is where the clear shift in the game occurred: The Mountaineers, after failing to produce anything on their offensive drive, pulled a gutsy call and tried a fake punt deep in their own territory. Tragically (for Wachusett) Franklin sniffed out the fake and stopped it, giving them field position at Wachusett 25. 

Davide continued to run wild, putting kid after kid into the turf. He would cap the drive off with another TD to secure the hat trick. The Panthers took the lead back in the 3rd quarter and never gave it up after, 20-14.

Davide was physical all night with his running (Hunter Smith)

It wouldn’t take long for the Panthers to score again. On Wachusett’s ensuing possession Zach Winer (Jr.) perfectly jumped a curl route, picked the ball off, and then took it to the house to give the Panthers a 27-14 lead, thereby chaining the trajectory of the game altogether. 

Franklin’s defense would come up big again as a Julian Rampino (Jr.) sack would force Wachusett the punt again back to the Panthers late in the 3rd quarter. 

Both teams had limited offensive production until the middle of the 4th where Davide and the offense drove themselves all the way down to the one-yard line. However, Wachusett put up a goal-line stand stopping the Panthers on 4th and 1. 

With the ball back in Wachusett’s hands. It was now or never for them, they needed to score to bring themselves back into this game. They in fact did contribute to the score, just on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Mountaineers surrendered a safety to the Panthers, giving the ball right back to Franklin. Davide, who was running angry all night wasn’t done, he would help to motor the Panthers back into the endzone to secure his 4th TD of the game and blow the game wide open at 36-14. 

It wasn’t the easiest game for the Panthers, having to deal with scorching heat and all the doubt that had been placed on them before the game if they were going to be able to perform. The offense showed out, especially in the 2nd half where Davide ran wild and Bruso also had a few big rushes of his own. We also have to give credit to the Panthers O-Line consisting of Ben Ryan (Sr.), Keaton Cooper (So.), Jack Murphy (Jr.), Brandon Large (Sr.), and Mason Roddy (Sr.). They helped open up holes all night for Davide and were key contributors to the big win. 

The Panthers earned a hard-fought Week 1 victory and showed a lot of promise for the rest of the season (Hunter Smith)

Despite the dominant performance, the Panthers know there is still an opportunity for improvement. They left 13 points on the board, and they will look to clean up the mistakes they made Thursday night. 

Franklin will travel to Brockton on Thursday Night to take on the boxers in their week 2 matchup.

Thank you to Hunter for the pictures, check out more of his work @smittvisuals

About the Contributor
Siddharth Chandra, Writer and Photographer
Siddharth (Sid) is currently a Senior and this is his fourth and final year with Pantherbook. He primarily writes about high school sports, often covering recaps of the big games. He is also an avid sports photographer that often is at the high school sports games. Sid is also part of DECA, ACADEC, NHS, Math NHS, Science NHS, Peer Leaders, the high school track team, Tri-M, Unified Music, and is the C/O 2024 Vice President.