Three Things To Watch: El Paso Franklin at El Paso Pebble Hills

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Photo: Tony Venegas,

It’s a battle that might turn to one of the best games of district 1-6A as Franklin and Pebble Hills will square off on Friday at 4 p.m. MST at the Socorro ISD Student Activities Complex.

What most don’t know about this game is that Pebble Hills head coach Mark Torres was the offensive coordinator during Franklin head coach Daren Walker’s successful seasons from 2012-15.

While Torres departed in 2015 to embark on opening the Pebble Hills athletic program and building up a unit of players, Walker continued to grow the program at Franklin, including a new stadium, turf and program outlook.

Last year was the first time these two teams squared off at the varsity level and Walker’s Cougars stomped on the Spartans 53-28.

This year might be a different outcome as the Spartans have completely turned their program around for the better and have exploded out this season at a 3-0 record. Franklin, although 1-2, has faced some tough teams this season thus far, losing to Copperas Cove and Odessa Permian.

Even though both coaches may not admit it to the press, or even their team, but they probably had this game marked in their calendar since the schedules came out.

For Pebble Hills, this game could be the deciding factor on whether or not they are elite, whereas Franklin is trying to stay afloat the top of 1-6A.

Here’s what to watch for on Friday afte three keys to the game:

1. The ground game is what matters

With windy weather conditions expected for Friday’s game, the game’s victor might be determined with which team can run the ball most effectively. Both teams have shown thus far that they keep a balanced attack, so it will be interesting to see who emerges as the best team on the ground.

Pebble Hills brings forth running back Caleb Gerber who has impressed citywide thus far. He’s totaled 442 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. The team as a unit averages 217 yards per game, something that will be largely tested against a disciplined Franklin defense.

Franklin has an exciting rushing attack with quarterback Chris Kelly and running back Seth Dominguez. Both combine for 331 rushing yards and five total rushing touchdowns.

2. Takeaways will be important

Franklin and Pebble Hills both know how crucial turnovers can be in huge games like this one. And, both squads have already racked up decent takeaway profiles.

Pebble Hills is known for changing games with the spark of turnovers. For example, against Andress, they took a pick and fumble for a touchdown. They’ve taken two picks and forced three fumbles thus far.

While Franklin has not considerably used turnovers to change the course of their game, they have forced 10 fumbles already this year, which makes defenses aware of their threatening presence.

3. Records are out the window

Although both teams have different records going into this season, both have a clean slate when it comes to district play. Both teams desire a promising district record, and this game could be the determinate to see where each team stands.

This game will determine the ever-long debate on whether a tough non-district schedule, that Franklin experienced, was more beneficial, or if a competitive non-district schedule, facing teams in El Paso, as Pebble Hills experienced was better.

Bottom line is this game will most likely be a game of 48-minutes, having many twists and turns, but ultimately a battle of two strong 1-6A teams.


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