HOOK & LATERAL

Tyrone-Huntingdon 1994 (full game)

No game is won or lost on a single play alone, and yet every game has a sequence of events that turn the tide from one team to another. This series delves into the monumental plays that swung momentum for the Golden Eagles in some of their most memorable games.

Tyrone coach John Franco is not a gimmick coach. In fact, he may be the furthest thing from a gimmick coach working in Pennsylvania right now.

Franco eschews the razzle dazzle for the basic. In an era when many coaches have gone to read offenses where the plays are called at the line, Franco still runs a pro-style offense, and his plays are relayed by the quarterback after receiving them directly from the coach on the sideline.

While Franco has reverses in his offensive repertoire, they’re not something one would see frequently at a Golden Eagles game. The same goes for halfback passes and other forms of trickery. Ask the coach himself and he would tell you his teams’ strength over the years has been mastering a series of plays and then simply learning to run them from a myriad of formations. That’s the magic a Franco’s offenses.

However, the irony is that although Franco has built a reputation as a nuts and bolts coach who sticks to the fundamentals, he’s got a nice little bag of tricks, and some of the most memorable wins of his career in Tyrone have been propelled by slight of hand and gadget plays. One could look back to a handful of times during his first stint in the borough when the Golden Eagles snatched victory from defeat with a halfback throwback pass. When Tyrone broke a school record 29-game winning streak in 2007, they did it with a last-second drive against Philipsburg-Osceola that included both a halfback pass and a throwback pass.

A similar gadget play is a high school football mainstay – the old hook and lateral. And in 1994, Franco’s first year coaching at Tyrone, the Golden Eagles used it to begin building a foundation of trust – in the program itself, and in one determined running back who would one day be considered the best to ever lug the pigskin in the borough.

BACKSTORY

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