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Franklin High’s Bain Gearing Up For 2020 Grid Season

Jun 30, 2020 07:04AM ● By Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer

EDITOR’S NOTE: At Local Town Pages deadline, neither Governor Baker nor the Department of Education had yet to announce whether schools would open this fall.

Next month, on Aug. 21, pre-season football practice is expected to get underway for all high school teams in Massachusetts, and Franklin High coach Eian Bain is hopeful that date will arrive with few snags. But, he’s okay if there’ll be some limitations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m preparing for our season and our opener against St. John’s Prep (Danvers) on Sept. 11,’’ said Bain, who took the reins of the Panthers’ program four years ago. “We’ll adapt to any changes that are dictated by the State or the MIAA (Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association). We’ll do what’s best for our program, and if there isn’t any football on Aug. 21, then that’s what we have to abide by.’’

Bain, his players and Franklin fans obviously are eager for football to be part of the fall sports menu. For good reason. The Panthers compiled 7-4 records the last two seasons, and they fell one game shy of earning a Super Bowl berth last year after losing to Catholic Memorial. 

Last spring, all interscholastic sports fell victim to cancellation after the Covid-19 virus spread. Even winter sports teams that were gearing up for State championship finals were unable to compete and had to settle for co-champ status.

“Health comes first,’’ Bain said. “We just have to get through this together and be united. Our assistant coaches and myself want the 100 kids in our program to know that we’ve got their backs.’’

Bain isn’t one to speculate on what changes may occur for high school football. He’s forward-thinking, and he’s all about preparation. So are his prospective candidates, who’ll spend the time leading up to Aug. 21 fine-tuning their strength and conditioning workouts.

“Thanks to technology, our players know what their workouts involve,’’ Bain noted. “They get specifics on strength, speed, conditioning and nutrition. Emails on the plan are sent, and they can print it out before they execute what’s involved. We’ve created an app for phones if they need more guidance, and videos (via HUDL) are offered for drills and weightlifting.’’

Franklin will have only seven experienced returnees from last year’s team, but Bain likes the young talent that’s on board, and he views their speed and mental toughness as two key assets. 

“This is the first group that’s been in our system for four years,’’ he emphasized. “They know about playoff football, because we’ve competed in post-season play for the last three years. They also know about high standards and the previous players who laid the foundation for them.

“When a program starts winning, it’s important to reload, and that means devoting time to player development. Wins and losses are results that people focus on. We don’t focus on that. For us, it’s all about the process — the work, the lifting, the basics and the execution. A kid may not play as a freshman but he might be a two-way starter as a senior. Player development makes that happen.’’

Xander Honor, who’ll be one of Franklin’s captains this season, is a four-year veteran linebacker who’s got all the attributes to be a Hockomock League all-star. “Xander has a great blend of assets,’’ Bain said. “He’s got lots of speed and quickness. He could also be utilized on offense as a blocker, tight end or fullback. A leader by example, he can also be vocal. Xander is highly respected.’’

A talented trio of seniors will be key contributors on defense. They include lineman Anthony Quintina, safety Mike Griffin and linebacker Dan Cormier. “Anthony is strong and quick; Mike is smart and tough; and Dan is athletic, physical, and has length,’’ Bain said.

On offense, the Panthers have two top-notch seniors — guard Vincent Lackey and wide receiver Jake O’Brien. “Vin is a capable pass-and-run blocker who’s disciplined and intelligent,’’ Bain offered. “Jake is athletic, has good hands, and he’s got speed.’’

Senior Parker Cheuvront will handle the punting and kicking chores. “Parker is not only talented, but he might be our hardest worker,’’ Bain noted.

If all systems are go, Franklin will compete in two scrimmages — Aug. 29 at Ashland (10 a.m.) and Sept. 4 at Holliston (6 p.m.).

The Panthers regular season schedule starts on Sept. 11 at home against St. John’s Prep at 7 p.m. The following week will feature a Cape Cod contest against Barnstable at 7 p.m. (date to be determined). The rest of the schedule: Sept. 25 at King Philip (7 p.m.); Oct. 2 home vs. Milford (7 p.m.); Oct. 9 at Mansfield (7 p.m.); Oct. 16 home vs. Attleboro (7 pm); Oct. 23 at Taunton (7 p.m.); and Nov. 26 home vs. King Philip (10 a.m.). Three playoff opponents will be scheduled after league games conclude.

The 34-year-old Bain has an extensive football background as a player and coach. A native of West Virginia, he was an all-league quarterback at Stafford High in Stafford, Conn., where he set six passing records. A four-year starter at QB at Framingham State, he majored in history and minored in education. He coached as an assistant at Ashland High, Framingham State and Foxboro before his hiring at Franklin in 2016. 

Bain, who’s been teaching history at Foxboro for 10 years, and his wife Jennifer have a one-year old son (Michael), whose twin brother (Andrew) died at birth. The Raynham couple are expecting another child in October.

The veteran coach is also expecting some positive news in November that he hopes will add to the football program’s stature. “We expect to be contenders for the Kelly-Rex Division title and for a playoff berth,’’ he said.