Bearcats, Flyers renew grid rivalry

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By John Herndon

They are no longer district rivals. They aren’t even in the same classification anymore, but that should mean little when Anderson County travels to Franklin County Friday night.

The Bearcats and Flyers get together for the 20th renewal of an on-again, off-again series that dates to 1970. The series has been mostly on for the last 20 years with the teams putting up some memorable battles.

From 2011-2014, the teams were district foes in Class 5A, District 6 with one or the other winning the district title every year. At least one of the teams advanced to the regional final every one of those seasons with the teams battling for the regional championship in 2013.

Anderson is still competing in Class 5A but Franklin was dropped to Class 4A in 2015.

“It has been a fun game to play,” Anderson coach Mark Peach says. “There have been some great teams and great players who have played in this game. We have had some great games against Franklin County in both the regular season and the playoffs.”

The one time the teams met in the playoffs, in that 2013 regional final held at Anderson, might have been the best of the 19 games in the series. Anderson won that back-and-forth contest, played in a muddy quagmire on the Bearcats home turf, 31-28.

Anderson had scored on the game’s first play, a 66-yard run from Ross Cox, but didn’t take the lead for good until Zachary Carmichael scored on a quarterback sneak with just over three minutes to play. The game was not sealed, however, until a pair of interceptions in the last three minutes, the last coming as Darius Harvey picked off a screen pass with 31 seconds to play.

Anderson had beaten Franklin earlier in the year, giving the Flyers their only two blemishes on the season.

The year before, an inspired Anderson team took the lead when Joe Rose kicked a field goal to give Anderson a 52-50 lead at Franklin but on the ensuing kickoff, Franklin’s Ryan Timmons went the distance to give Franklin the win and the district title, 56-52.

The stakes are not as high this year as the contest is just for pride, but it could be a very good one. Anderson has shown some glimpses of becoming a nice team, especially on the defensive side, the last two weeks, but has yet to move the ball through the air with only 43 passing yards through four games.

Franklin, which was off last week, stands at 2-1 with wins over Western Hills and Woodford County but a 35-25 loss to the same Mercer County team Anderson slipped past, 21-19.

Franklin had built a 25-7 lead on Mercer before the Titans rallied.

Head coach Eddie James is the Flyers’ third head coach in three seasons, but Peach says he’s not a stranger to the series “He ahs been over there (as an assistant coach) a long time, calling their offense,” Peach says. “He calls as good an offense as anybody you will ever run up against. They are so well-balanced in all they do. It is a lot to handle.”

Quarterback Jesse Thurman has thrown for 532 yards and run for 179 more for Franklin. Tre Simmons has seven catches for 246 yards. Both are juniors.

Senior tight end-linebacker Chad Holleran has been in on 47 tackles in three games. He is the son of former University of Kentucky linebacker Randy Holleran.

Bearcats vs. Flyers

When: Friday, Sept. 15., 7:30 p.m.

Where: Benny Watkins Field

Franklin Co. High School

1100 East Main Street

Frankfort, Ky.

Records: Anderson Co. 3-1

Franklin Co. 2-1

Series: Franklin Co. leads 14-5

The series

1970 Franklin Co. 20, Anderson Co. 0

1971 Franklin Co. 28, Anderson Co. 12

1997 Anderson Co. 42, Franklin Co. 0

1998 Franklin Co. 12, Anderson Co. 9

1999 Franklin Co. 47, Anderson Co. 0

2000 Franklin Co. 41, Anderson Co. 7

2001 Franklin Co. 14, Anderson Co. 12

2002 Anderson Co. 38, Franklin Co. 8’

2003 Franklin Co. 13, Anderson Co. 5

2004 Franklin Co. 42, Anderson Co. 13

2005 Franklin Co. 52, Anderson Co. 9

2006 Franklin Co. 34, Anderson Co. 0

2011 Franklin Co. 56, Anderson Co. 24

2012 Franklin Co. 56, Anderson Co. 52

2013 Anderson Co. 35, Franklin Co. 21

2013 Anderson Co. 31, Franklin Co. 28*

2014 Franklin Co. 35, Anderson Co. 21

2015 Franklin Co. 33, Anderson Co. 30

2016 Anderson Co. 35, Franklin Co. 21

*Regional championship