EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The high school football season is officially underway in Texas and the Franklin Cougars became one of the first programs to get on the practice field on Monday.
“It’s definitely great to get back out here and just to have a normal year,” said Franklin senior linebacker and running back Steven Powers. “It’s going to be great, I’m really excited about it and I think it’s going to be special.”
Per University Interscholastic League (UIL) rules, teams who did not participate in spring ball began practice on Monday. For those coaches who elected to practice in the spring, they will begin their respective seasons next Monday.
Franklin is beginning their year with some adversity. Longtime head coach Daren Walker is not with the team and has been placed on medical leave. There is no timeframe for his return as Leigh McWhorter was named the Cougars’ acting head coach. McWhorter and the rest of the staff has kept the program moving forward in Walker’s absence.
“I told them [student-athletes] I was going to step in for a little while until he’s back and we aren’t going to skip a beat. They deserve the best experience possible and we’re not going to let them down,” said McWhorter. “Coach Walker laid down a foundation and a routine that is pretty easy to follow. It’s not all that difficult right now. All of us are stepping up a little bit and doing our part and keeping this train moving.”
The Cougars return nine starters off last year’s playoff team and even with the change at the top, this is a group that expects to contend for a district championship.
“He [McWhorter] has definitely stepped up and he’s leading us in the right direction,” said Powers. “I feel that under him, we’ll be the exact same.”
Franklin will open the season on Friday, Aug. 27 against Rio Rancho Cleveland in New Mexico.