Football faces Franklin tonight

The Wolverine football team opened its season in style with a 41-0 trouncing of Franklin High School Friday night. Running back Te’Rhon O’Neal ’09 rushed for 243 yards and scored three touchdowns in the victory.

An effective offense led by senior quarterback Sean Berman scored five total touchdowns. Berman connected with half-back Malcolm Caldwell-Meeks ’10 in the first quarter for a score, and again with wide receiver Corey Vann ’09 in the third quarter. Berman ended the night with 9 completions in 21 attempts for a total of 144 passing yards.

The defense proved stingy, denying the Franklin Panthers of any scoring or breakout plays. Avery Rosin ’09 and Gavin McCourt ’09 both intercepted passes in the second quarter that were converted into Wolverine touchdowns on the following drives.

Prior to the game, Head Coach Vic Eumont compared the Franklin team to that of Carson High School, one of the top football programs in the area.

“We were surprised, [Franklin] was a very good team last year,” Eumont said.  “We made some big plays tonight, but we made some silly penalties. We can never relax, though, and I hope we learned that tonight.”

O’Neal has emerged as a team leader, solidifying his role with his performance tonight.

“We went into battle tonight,” O’Neal said. “We put our hearts out there, and I was just there, ready to support the team. It was a team effort.”

O’Neal has not received enough recognition in high school football player rankings, Eumont said.

“When Te’Rhon found out that he wasn’t on the list of the top California running backs, he was not happy about that,” he said. “I think you could see that on the field tonight.”

O’Neal said he thought his performance tonight may get him some attention.

“Hopefully, they’ll start to recognize,” he said.

In only the second season since light stands were installed at Ted Slavin Field, the atmosphere of the game was similar to the traditional, “Friday Night Lights” style of high school football. Cheerleaders held up a banner emblazoned with the slogan “Pound the Panthers,” which the team ran through immediately before the game. The cheer squad, which has incorporated stunting into their routines for the first time this year, performed for bleachers full of students and parents who had come out to watch the game.

The Harvard-Westlake Fanatics made their presence known, dressing in capes and face paint and leading chants ranging from the standard “Har-vard West-lake” to, as the outcome of the game became more and more clear, asking the opposing crowd “Why so serious?” 

“I was surprised and very excited to see the team play as well as it did,” Taylor Flohr ’09 said.

The Wolverines play their next game on Friday, Sept. 12 against Lynwood at Ted Slavin Field.