Kaboom! O-Line takes Bulldogs

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 3, 2007

MEADVILLE — Yes, my dear, dynamite does come in smallpackages.

Josey Carithers, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior offensive guard forthe Franklin County Bulldogs, isn’t a giant in the trenches but heplays like a high-powered bulldozer. Carithers and his trenchmatespaved the way for their galloping running backs Friday night.

Carithers and the rest of the Bulldogs were mobbed after Fridaynight’s game by well-wishers and family. There was an abundance ofsmiles, handshakes, high-fives, hugs and back-slaps for every teammember as they celebrated their impressive win over the RaleighLions in the South State 3A championship game.

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“We are a little line but they say, ‘Dynamite comes in smallpackages,'” said Carithers. “We go out there and kick butt.”

In an awesome display, Franklin County plowed up the Raleighdefense like a John Deere tractor. The Bulldogs wore navy bluegear, trimmed in gold. They piled up 448 yards rushing, their besteffort of the season. The crowd of 3,000 had to be impressed.

That bountiful harvest transports the defending state championBulldogs back to Jackson. They will play the Louisville WildcatsSaturday at 3 p.m. in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Raleigh, a good football team with a lot of speed, couldn’t stopthe Bulldogs. They left Louie Mullins Stadium in a long trail ofmaroon tears.

Raleigh head coach Durwood Anderson has coached the Lions for 16years. His grim demeanor was reflected in the faces of the players.Tears trickled down their cheeks in the cold night air as steamfrom their uniforms vaporized.

“We got our nose bloodied,” said Anderson. “We should haveplayed better. Franklin County really got after us.”

On defense, the Bulldogs are coordinated mayhem. They swarm thefootball and chase frightened quarterbacks out of bounds. To put itmildly, they hit hard.

Up front on defense, the Bulldogs count on three exceptionalathletes who are big, strong and fast. Cousins Josh and Bo Tillman,both seniors; are outstanding. Josh (6-5, 245) is an early committo Ole Miss. Bo (6-6, 300) has the athletic ability to play in theNFL if he works hard in college.

The little guy up front, Bobby O’Quinn (6-0, 245), is asophomore. The talented trio made life miserable for Raleighquarterback Paul Black who displayed a rifle arm when he wasn’tscrambling for his life.

Raleigh’s explosive attack was defused. The Lions managed just43 yards on the ground and 164 passing.

“Franklin County’s defensive line is pretty good,” Andersonanswered when asked about the Bulldogs. “They have good genes, biggenes.”

For sure the Tillmans are making Franklin County famous. Bo’solder brother, Marcus, is a standout defensive end for the Ole MissRebels.

Asked about FC’s work ethic in practice, Carithers laughed andsaid, “You get better when you have to block the Tillmans inpractice every day.”

Josh Tillman said the Bulldogs were well prepared by thecoaching staff. “Raleigh had a good team but we had a good gameplan. The main thing was to put pressure on the quarterback.”

Josh had 4 sacks and Bo had 1. Bulldog linebacker Garcia Vaughn(6-4, 200) led the team with 6 tackles. Junior linebacker JordanHunt (6-1, 215) had 4 tackles.

There was no doubt about the Bulldogs’ pass defense. They wereburned once for a TD but made the right adjustments. Alex Smithintercepted Raleigh twice and Darnell Ford had the other theft.

Smith was a 2-way star against Raleigh. He rushed for 138 yardsand a touchdown. He has over 1,000 yards rushing this year.

“I love those offensive linemen,” said Smith. “They block forme. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Junior quarterback Jamie Collins sparkled on offense anddefense. He rushed for 135 yards, breaking several plays up themiddle. “I love playing defense,” said Collins.

Franklin County coach Grady McCluskey said he was pleased withhis team’s performance. “Our kids play hard and they work hard inpractice. We work hard in there, too,” pointing towards FC’sspacious weight training building.

“On Sundays and Wednesdays we lift during the season,” McCluskeynoted. “Our kids get after it.”

McCluskey also praised his staff of assistant coaches. “We havesome old guys and some young guys on our staff. They work welltogether. We can talk and make adjustments.”

It will be a busy week for the Bulldogs but McCluskey will havethem ready for Louisville. When he was a high school quarterback atWest Point, he played Louisville three times.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com