The Franklin High School Rebels boys' golf team made quite a splash in winning its first-ever TSSAA Large Class state championship Oct. 16.
Rebels golfers celebrated their history making victory in a similar way by diving into a pond after the victory, located on the WillowBrook Golf course in Manchester, Tenn., which hosted the tournament.
Head Coach Jon Whipple made sure they collected the hardware before they took the plunge.
“They had been talking about state, so when they got there and they saw that water, [and] they said, 'Coach if we win this, we are going to go in it,'" Whipple said. “And they won it…I said, 'Hold on, you got to get all the good pictures in first.'"
The Rebels posted a score of 601, shooting 26 strokes over par.
Seniors Jackson Wilcox, a Butler University commit, and Jack Morris Jr., committed to Lipscomb, led the way for the squad.
Wilcox shot even par, good enough for fourth place overall, while Morris came in at one stroke over par to finish sixth. Eli Cleveland finished 22nd at +12, while Cooper Wilcox finished tied for 23rd at +13.
Franklin started 2019 hot with both the boys and girls going 6-0. The girls would go on to lose only one match during the regular season to Ravenwood High School, before winning the district tournament and eventually posting a fourth-place finish at the state tournament.
The boys had an interesting time qualifying for the state tournament. The Rebels finished third in the district losing in a playoff to Brentwood High School to land in the third-place spot, which gave them the final spot who advance to regionals where they fell short last year.
“I feel like if you come out of our district and region, I feel like when you get to the state tournament you got a pretty good chance just because of the type of golf you go up against week in and week out in our district,” Whipple said.
Whipple admits he searched the TSSAA website after the Rebels first day at WillowBrook saw them tied the for first with Science Hill and realized that Franklin High School had no team championships, despite the school’s long history.
He didn’t want to tell his team in order to keep them focused on their game and the task at hand-- winning the championship.
“I started scrolling through there, and I realized we’re not anywhere on here,” he said. “I didn’t want to tell the boys that going into the second day, even though I knew it. I didn’t want them to overthink it, but it was very cool for just Franklin High School in general to be recognized at that level.”
Franklin did have a previous individual champion in Matt McWilliams. He won the AAA title in 1996 according to the TSSAA website.
Whipple said he couldn’t be prouder of his team and credits the team’s postseason run to the leadership of his five seniors and the close bond his players share with each other, both on and off the course.
“The thing about these guys is they are playing golf almost every day, and every day together,” he said. They are not just teammates on a team, their real good buddies and they hang out together outside of the golf course and I think that goes a long way as well.”
That was evident in the second they hit the water.