The Tolar Rattlers’ first football scrimmage was Aug. 17 at Bosqueville, but the foundation for this year’s outstanding season was built long before that.
Throughout the 8-2 regular season, Tolar players made references to an improved, tougher offseason program that they said made a difference this year. Time after time, players said that their collective work in the weight room was translating into victories.
“We upped our weight workouts a lot,” said head coach Mike Franklin, who led District 6-2A Division II runner-up Tolar to its first Class 2A playoff berth, and into last night’s bidistrict matchup against Holliday (6-4). “It started in November with the weight program. We built a lot of bulk, and it carried over.
“We knew we were going to be small and we would have to rely on speed, quickness and stamina. We made a concentrated effort.”
Junior running back Cory Solomon had already established himself as a talented ball carrier with more than 1,000 yards rushing last season as a sophomore. But despite that, Franklin noted that Solomon was one of the team’s hardest-working players in the offseason and got even stronger and faster than before.
Franklin noted that while Solomon isn’t a vocal leader, he helped lead by example.
The Rattlers have used the unusual combination of three quarterbacks this season. Starter Corbin Wood, a junior, and sophomore Dakota Endsley get the majority of the playing time. Senior Landon Morris also plays, mostly on goal-line situations.
“(They) are playing well, and are leading this team,” Franklin said of his quarterbacks. “It works for us.”
The offensive line – with only four players weighing 200 pounds or more – was a bit of a question mark in the preseason, but no more.
The line has enabled the Rattlers to gain almost 4,000 yards in 10 games – an average of 398 yards in total offense per outing. That includes 2,451 rushing yards and 1,528 through the air. The quarterbacks have thrown for 16 touchdowns.
Solomon’s totals entering last night’s playoff game were 1,473 yards rushing – eight yards per carry – with 23 TDs.
Meanwhile, Tolar’s defense has posted two shutouts, and limited foes to 14 points or less in eight games.
“We knew we had skill kids. We knew we had quickness,” Franklin said. “We never backed down, and we figured out that size didn’t matter with us.”
The Rattlers gelled into Tolar’s first football squad to reach the playoffs since 2009.
“We’re pumped about playing this far into November,” Franklin said.
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