East Ham, Signal Mountain collide in first FNF Game of the Week - WSMV News 4

East Ham, Signal Mountain collide in first FNF Game of the Week

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SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WRCB) -- The image is burned into Diamez Franklin's memory, and so is the feeling.

The Signal Mountain running back vividly remembers the final moments of his last meeting with East Hamilton. They've haunted him for the past twelve months.

"When that last buzzer sounded, I just looked at the scoreboard and felt the most empty feeling inside me," Franklin said of last year's 55-14 season-opening loss at Hurricane Hill. "It felt like I just had my soul ripped out. We talk about it all the time and use it for motivation."

Franklin and the Eagles will have a shot at revenge when they host the Hurricanes in the first Friday Night Football Game of the Week of the 2013 season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Signal Mountain won a district title last fall and advanced to the playoffs, but they were a much different team when they played East Hamilton.

Several sophomores made their varsity debuts in that matchup, including several in starting roles. They were overwhelmed early in an intimidating environment and never recovered.

Head coach Bill Price doesn't expect that to be an issue this time around.

"I feel a lot better about this team at this point than I did last year," said Price. "We're still going against a great opponent in East Hamilton, but this time around the kids have a lot more experience.

Of course, the Hurricanes boast plenty of that as well, returning nine starters on each side of the ball from a team that advanced to the state quarterfinals.

However, head coach Ted Gatewood made it clear that they'll need to go out and prove themselves all over again.

"If you're living in the past then you're not going to do anything in the future," Gatewood said. "Whether it's negative or positive, we're not going to dwell on the past. Our focus is on moving forward and getting our kids ready for the season."

A veteran lineup has had little trouble buying into that mindset, helping the Hurricanes hit the ground running when they resumed offseason work.

"We have some great returning players who know what our expectations our," said tight end Bailey Lenoir. "It's helped us in practice to be able to keep everything at a faster pace."

Familiarity has also helped push the pace in preseason preps, considering this will be the fifth straight season the two teams have played in opening weeks.

The Eagles have won three of the previous four.

"There won't be many big surprises in this game," Price said. "We know what East Hamilton wants to do and they know what we want to do. That means this game will come down to which players execute better."

Paul Shahen and Jordan Tippit will be live coverage from the season's first Game of the Week when Channel 3's Friday Night Football kicks off at 11:10 p.m. ET.

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