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Brooks returns to Franklin football

Coach Josh Brooks (second from right) returns to Franklin’s football program after less than a year away. Donated photo Coach Josh Brooks (second from right) returns to Franklin’s football program after less than a year away. Donated photo

Josh Brooks will return as head coach for Franklin High School football after players implored the school board to reinstate the recently resigned coach.

Several Franklin High School football players attended the Feb. 19 school board meeting to urge the board to select a candidate. Team Captain Addix Sutton spoke during public comment about the team’s need for a coach.

“Today I’m speaking on behalf of the FHS football team,” said Sutton. “I come to you tonight asking you to find us a football coach.”

Brooks stepped away in November after the 2023 season, and the team has been without a coach since that time. Brooks had led the program for 18 seasons and coached at Franklin for a total of 23. Brooks had previously resigned after the 2022 season before deciding to come back for 2023.

While it is the off season, Sutton said that usually by this point in the year the team would have received its spring and summer workout schedules.

“Sadly, we seem to be the only football team in Western North Carolina without a football coach,” said Sutton. “We were told we would have a coach by Christmas at the latest. That hasn’t happened.” 

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Sutton asserted that the lack of leadership for the football team was resulting in more disciplinary incidents and worse academic performance. He said that Brooks had been able to hold players accountable throughout the school year.

“We want a coach that knows us, knows who we are and loves the Franklin Panthers,” said Sutton. “At the end of the day, we want Coach Josh Brooks as our head coach. With all the things we have been through and with all the adversity that’s ahead, that’s who we want. That’s who the players in this room want, and many more that couldn’t make it. That’s the man that we support.” 

On Feb. 20, the school board announced Brooks’ return in a press release.

“Coach Brooks is a tremendous mentor and role model for our student athletes,” the statement read. “With an impressive track record and extensive experience, Coach Brooks brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise back to the Franklin Panthers. He will continue to provide great leadership for our program as we move Franklin High School forward.” 

Construction on the new FHS stadium is tentatively set to begin this summer, after the county received a $62 million state grant  to complete the new high school. This will likely mean the Panthers won’t play the 2024 season at home, but the team could be in a new stadium for the 2025 season if construction is complete.

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