• John Macon Gillespie

GoW: The Ground Game

The week one SES Game of the Week will be won or lost in the trenches. With two of the state’s top running backs preparing to carry the mail, the balance hangs on the both the offensive lines for each team as well as the front seven defenders.

For the Petal Panthers the ball carrier will be senior Stephon Huderson.

Huderson is coming off on a 2,000-yard junior season that ended with a loss in the 6A State Championship. This summer Huderson was named to the SES Elite 10 as well as the Clarion Ledger’s Dandy Dozen. He is poised to have a monster send off season and it all starts this Saturday night at Hattiesburg. Huderson will have some experienced lineman to run behind and he doesn’t ask for much. If there is a just a small ray of light, Huderson will hit it like a bowling ball smashes over sitting pins. He also is a true threat in the passing game. He hauled in over 30 passes last season. This makes a defense have to account for his whereabouts on every single snap, run or pass.

In week one, there are always kinks being worked out so it is a big plus for Petal that they can lean on Mr. Consistency early and often. Huderson may see more carries in this game than he has ever seen before and if he is hot, get out of his way.

For Hattiesburg, it is junior Fabian Franklin.

Franklin had his welcoming party last season against Petal in week one. He carried 16 times for 123 yards and a score. That chops out to nearly eight yards a carry. Franklin continued to display glimpse of greatness throughout his sophomore season and is now ready to explode in 2016. He posses a great combination of speed and agility mixed with good vision. Like Huderson, Franklin can make something out of a busted play and the defense cannot stop until they are certain he is down and the refs have blown the play dead.

On Saturday, Franklin will likely see more than the 16 touches he saw a year ago against Petal. The Tiger offense is stacked with playmakers. He will have an experienced quarterback distributing the football in Julian Conner and wide receiver Jordan Murphy scary the defensive secondary to death. Whoever draws the most focus could help free things up for the other. It will definitely be a pick your poison sort of attack.

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