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Franklin and Centennial will meet for a second straight week after the Rebels beat Centennial in the final game of the regular season.

Centennial (8-2) at Franklin (8-2), 7 p.m.

The Franklin Rebels open the Class 6A playoffs with a rematch against the Centennial Cougars on Friday.

It’s the second straight week the cross-town rivals meet after Franklin beat the Cougars 37-34 in the final game of the regular season.

With not a lot of time removed from their previous bout, both teams know what to expect from one another.

“As far as X’s and O’s and things of that nature, there’s not as much to prepare for, simply because you’re not starting from scratch,” said Centennial head coach Brian Rector. “You already know the personnel, and you know the bases for their offense, defense and special teams. Neither team is going to change any of those aspects dramatically in a six day period. In terms of preparation, I think it makes it a little easier.”

Centennial entered the fourth quarter of last week’s game up 28-17, but gave up two rushing touchdowns and a passing score to eventually lose the game.

Franklin QB Joe Critchlow passed for 228 yards and 3 TDs against Centennial (Photo by Steve Wheeler for FHP)

A big reason for Franklin’s success was the play of quarterback Joe Critchlow (2,047 pass yds, 25 TDs, 4 ints).

The senior gunslinger completed 18-of-32 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

What made him difficult to stop was his ability to spread the ball around, as he connected with seven different receivers.

“That just proves what caliber of a quarterback he is,” Rector said. “He doesn’t zone in on one person. Obviously, it was challenging to us at times. Their whole offense goes through him. If Joe Critchlow has the type of game this Friday that he had last Friday, then we’ll probably be taking up equipment. The challenge is out there for our defense to reverse that trend.”

While the Cougars had trouble stopping Critchlow, Franklin’s defense struggled with bottling up CHS running backs Deon Sanders (1,121 rush yds, 138 receiving yds, 16 TDs) and Tyrel Dodson (535 rush yds, 11 TDs).

Sanders carried the ball 24 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and had 53 passing yards and two receptions for 21 yards.

Dodson had 17 carries for 83 yards and three scores, and one reception for 25 yards.

Franklin head coach Donnie Webb said his team needs to do a better job of tackling the duo around the line of scrimmage, instead of letting them get out into the open field.

Franklin TE Garrison Mathews caught 2 passes for 14 yards and 2 TDs last week (Photo by Steve Wheeler for FHP)

“Yards after first contact was our biggest problem,” Webb said. “Tyrel and Deon are both really good running backs and they do a good job of keeping their feet moving and seeing the field. We had a lot of plays where we allowed them to gain yards after the first contact, with some of them definitely being big plays.”

One factor that may impact Centennial’s rushing attack this time around is the return of Franklin senior defensive tackle Josh Filbey (55 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 FF), who missed last week’s game with an injury.

“Obviously, he’s going to boost their run defense,” Rector said. “He’s a very good defensive lineman and one of the better ones in the district. That’s very good for them to be getting a player of his caliber back. I’m sure he’ll have an effect, and our kids are aware of it.”

With Filbey’s ability to stuff the run game, the Cougars know they have to find a way to produce through the air.

Last Friday, quarterback Owen Roth completed 10-of-13 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions last Friday, while QB Connor Rietveld went 2-for-3 for 18 yards and Sanders went 1-for-2 for 53 yards.

Centennial RB Tyrel Dodson rushed for 3 TDs against Franklin (Photo by Steve Wheeler for FHP)

The top target for the trio was wide receiver Emanuel Hall (39 rec., 765 yards, 10 TDs), who caught eight passes for 88 yards.

“We have to have a more effective pass game,” Rector said, “They defended our run a lot better in the second half last week and they get a really great player back in Filbey. We’re going to have to be able to run the ball, no question, but we have to be able to make some more plays in our passing game to be able to move the chains.”

After letting last week’s game slip by, the Cougars are looking forward to having a clean slate against their cross-town rival. “Last Friday is insignificant to what happens this Friday,” he said. “I think it helps our kids in that we get an opportunity to redeem ourselves for what we all feel like not playing well against Franklin. I’m sure their coaches feel the same way in that there were a few plays they should’ve made that they didn’t.”

Webb said the formula to winning Friday’s game is simple.

“In this district we all know each other so well and play each other so many times that the preparation is never really different,” Webb said. “Whichever team that blocks the best, tackles the best and has the least amount of turnovers is going to win this contest.”

Sam McGaw is the sports editor for Franklin Home Page. Email him at [email protected]. You can also follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.