High School Football Game of the Year? Franklin vs. Americas
For our Thursday Night Football featured game, we will see two of El Paso's best football programs clash, as the Americas Trailblazers (4-1) get set to host Franklin (5-0) in the 1-6A district opener.
Brandon Cohn, Steve Escajeda and I will have the play-by-play action live at the SAC with coverage starting at 6:45 p.m. on 600 ESPN El Paso.
Franklin is entering Thursday's matchup carrying momentum from their non-district slate. They were able to beat out the likes of New Mexico's Rio Rancho Cleveland (36-13) and Odessa Permian (49-28) to start the season.
Offensively, they are led by senior quarterback Danny Walther (1,394 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, two interceptions). They manage a balanced run game between tailbacks Erwin Sutton and Pablo Payan, while their receivers Gabe Stonewall (New Mexico commit; 519 receiving yards, seven touchdowns) and Michael Haack (418 receiving yards, six touchdowns) are key playmakers for the offense. Their stout offensive line might be the best in the city as a unit.
Head coach Darren Walker might have seen an offense like this one in the past, but maybe not a defense quite like the Cougars currently have. Senior linebacker David Powers has been on the fringe of being the best linebacker in the city, totaling 50 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks this year.
Americas head coach Patrick Melton and his squad enters this game inches away from also being undefeated. They ripped through the likes of Eastwood (63-0) and slugged it out against Midland Christian (35-28), but fell in heartbreaking fashion against a tough Amarillo Tascosa team (31-28).
The Trailblazers feature probably the city's best overall player in junior running back Aaron Dumas (1,416 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, 283.2 yards per game). Colleges are starting to take notice of Dumas too, resulting in early Division I offers from Houston, North Texas, Illinois State, SMU and New Mexico.
Quarterback Michael Nowell (745 passing yards, seven touchdowns) is finding his footing with the group, utilizing receivers like Ryan Acosta (474 receiving yards) and Sir Drennan (102 receiving yards, two touchdowns).
You can call this game the best defensive line (Americas) versus the best offensive line (Franklin). But the defensive stars for the Trailblazers might be too much for any team to handle. Dylan Kemp and Sebastian Guzman both lead the way with 13.0 and 10.0 sacks, respectively. They also feature Peter Velarde (53 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss) and Chris Robles (9.0 TFL) on their stellar defense.
Thursday's game is sure to be one for the books. Follow 600 ESPN El Paso for live Twitter updates for scores, updates and more!