Franklin Road Academy returns to the gridiron with plans of rebounding from its worst season since 1977.
The Panthers went 1-9 last season, just a year after going 11-1.
This year, FRA moves up to Division II-AA with key weapons returning on both sides of the ball.
“We’re looking forward to finding our identity and a seeing our guys compete and grow throughout the season,” FRA head coach Bill Whittemore said.
The Panthers will compete against Battle Ground Academy, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Goodpasture and Lipscomb Academy in the Middle Region.
The Panthers were abysmal on offense a year ago, averaging 16 points per game.
This year, they make a transition from the wing-T to the spread.
Senior Eric Stoxstill-Diggs returns as the starting quarterback.
Lining up with him in the backfield is senior running back and Columbia commit Watson Tansil.
Stoxstill-Diggs’ top weapons at receiver include senior Canaan Catlett and juniors Lance Wilhoite and Riley Speed.
Wilhoite, who’s fielding offers from Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee and others, scored five touchdowns last season.
Senior Matt Dalton, junior Tymon Mitchell and sophomore Will Wheeler will lead the way on the offensive line.
Many of FRA’s starters will play both ways.
Mitchell and Wheeler will start up front in the team’s 50-front defense.
Mitchell is fielding offers from Vanderbilt, Louisville, Iowa State, Purdue and Tennessee State.
Dalton and Tansil are starters at inside and outside linebacker, respectively.
Stoxstill-Diggs and Wilhoite will play safety, while Catlett will play cornerback.
Speed is also expected to make an impact in the secondary.