Brandon Small knew all that was entailed in the vacant Franklin head football coaching job.
The Hornets were 0-10 a year ago, returned three seniors and have regularly had 25-30 players taking part in summer workouts.
Those are hardly the most advantageous circumstances in taking over a program, but the 35-year-old Small, who spent the past two years as an assistant at the school, embraced the challenge of turning around Franklin’s fortunes after recently being named the school’s head coach.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for, and I’m excited about it,” Small said. “I’ve been there with the kids for two years and in the community, and that’s always a blessing.”
Small replaces J. Ina, a former Franklin player, who resigned to accept the position as principal at Franklin Middle School.
Small served as Ina’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach the past two seasons.
“He ran the 7-on-7 and weightlifting/conditioning program this summer without knowing he would even be offered the job, and we had a great summer,” Franklin principal Ty Burdett said. “We have young kids, and I feel he will be able to mold them and guide them into pretty good football players.”
Small played his senior season for the late Butsy Walet at New Iberia before signing with Gerry DiNardo at LSU. He completed his career and graduated from Southern.
It wasn’t until then Small considered entering the coaching profession, learning of an opening to coach the offensive line at Jackson High, which consolidated with Clinton High into East Feliciana.
Two years spent coaching at the small, rural school was enough to convince Small he wanted to continue in the profession. He moved closer to home and coached one year at Jeanerette and then for 6 ½ years at Westgate — serving as offensive coordinator for the Tigers.
By the halfway point of the 2014 season, Small said Franklin took on a youthful look, a development that bodes well for this season and beyond.
This year’s team has seniors — offensive lineman Jared Chavis, running back/safety Charles Durel and wide receiver Kyran Webb — to help the Hornets try and avoid some of the late-game pitfalls that resulted in four losses by a total of 24 points.
“This year’s about competing,” Small said. “We’ve got to learn how to finish games. We have to figure out a way to win those types of games. That’s my goal.”
While his roster numbers fluctuated between 25-30 players during summer workouts, Small said he was pleased with the team’s work ethic and attitude. He also pointed toward a successful 7-on-7 showing as another reason for optimism.
“I’ve wanted to be a head coach, and now I have that opportunity and I’m excited about it,” Small said. “With us having a young team, we’re going to take a couple of lumps, but I know we’re going to compete and people better not underestimate us.”