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The Lightning are off to a 3-0 start behind a new energy and a high-powered offense with goals on changing culture.



Just a couple weeks ago, Franklin High first-year head football coach Jamal Jones was able to stop using GPS to find his way to the Lightning's school building.

Coming over from California after five years of coaching at Arcata High School, Jones is completely new to the Portland area and all the intricacies of the Portland Interscholastic League.

While Jones is still learning his way around Portland, his team has seemingly already found their way on the football field.

The Lightning are 3-0 on the year after taking down Lincoln 35-14 last Friday, Sept. 23 after going into halftime up 28-0.

Franklin finished 3-6 overall last season and hasn't had a full, winning season since 2013 when the Lightning went 7-4 and made the playoffs (Franklin went 4-2 during the shortened 2021 spring season).

What's caused the turnaround in only eight weeks on the job for Jones has come down to one thing: Energy.

"I think just the energy, the energy is way different and everybody just wants to lay a boom on somebody and play hard," Franklin senior Jemall Brumfield said of the difference in 2022. "When (Jones) came, oh man, he was on our (butt), running every day back and forth. He was like, 'We're going to be the best team, most physical, run the most laps so we'll never be tired.'

"It just set the tempo. When he came it was like a switch."

MORE FROM LINCOLN: 3 takeaways from Franklin football's 35-14 win on the road over Lincoln

COURTESY PHOTO: RAY HAMILL/HUMBOLDT SPORTS - Current Franklin football head coach Jamal Jones on the sideline with his former team Arcata High School in California.

The switch has been evident on offense, as seen by Franklin beating Aloha in week two 38-13 and then downing Cleveland 35-0 in week three. The Lightning scored 30 or more points only once last season in a 46-36 win over Ida B. Wells.

Jones and junior quarterback Will Reid give most of the offensive credit to coach Adam Grimes, who's been the offensive coordinator in the past at Franklin but has added in some new wrinkles and an up-tempo pace to the 2022 scheme.

"A lot of our quick game is new stuff (Grimes) has brought in," Reid said. "Coach Grimes being around, while it's still new, we still have some continuity from years in the past. In about a week we kind of got the hang of it."

Reid is currently leading the PIL in passing yards while his junior receivers Ethan Aman and Max Wallace are toward the top of the league in receiving yards and TD receptions.

Mix in Brumfield being one of the best in terms of running yardage and the talent has been on display through four weeks of the season.

With the talent and continuity in some parts of the coaching staff, it seems all Franklin football needed was a spark. And Jones has been able to bring that ignition.

"Intensity," Reid said of the difference in 2022. "In years past, we've really lacked intensity, at practice especially. Now, we are really picking it up in terms of conditioning and the way we run practice, I think that's really showing now."

Being able to come in and change a culture in eight weeks takes more than a stern voice and conditioning though.

For Jones, being able to push his players to get better every day has been about more than the whistles on the practice field. It's about building trust and relationships in order to let the players know he has their back.

"I came in and I was vulnerable," Jones said. "I let them know who I was as an individual, I let them know my message and I told them, 'We're going to do three things every day: we're going to hold each accountable, we're going to be prepared and we're going to be disciplined.'

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Franklin football's Jemall Brumfield, left, celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Lincoln on Sept. 23, 2022, at Ida B. Wells High School.

"Coming in, they've had so many coaching changes and it's really about spending time with them, eating dinner with them, really building a rapport with them."

Jones also described how not being from Portland has aided him as well with no emotional attachments yet to the PIL or any of the Lightning's opponents.

Instead of getting caught up with anything off the field, it's all ball for Jones.

"My emotional attachment is to the group of kids that's out there," Jones said. "I just looked at the scores and said, 'Hey, you guys have been getting drilled. In order to fix that, we gotta go work.'"

Getting to work is a little easier for Reid, who said he's throwing to his best friends in Aman and Wallace.

MORE PIL FOOTBALL: Jefferson football ready to battle behind a hard-nosed defense

From Brumfield's perspective, who had 101 rushing yards and three TDs, plus a 76-yard pick-six against Lincoln, the difference in the offense has been a smarter approach.

"I think we've been taking good shots," Brumfield said of the offense. "We could always run the ball, I could get 10 yards or 15 yards, and then we would start messing up. But with this offense it's been different … we're actually taking shots passing the ball, making good reads. Will's making excellent reads."

The road has just begun though for this Franklin squad, and it's one that no Siri or Alexa can help give directions to help find the destination.

While Jones might need a little help still finding his way to upcoming road games at Jefferson (Oct. 13) and Wells (Oct. 28), he's found his way home and is ready for a 7 p.m. kickoff next week on Friday, Sept. 30 against McDaniel at Franklin.

"That's the thing: we're not going to out-talent anybody, but as you saw (against Lincoln), we'll for sure out-work you," Jones said. "That's our message every day, when we go to practice Saturday through Thursday, we just work. That's it, just work."

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Franklin football's Will Reid, left, throws the ball downfield with Lincoln's Moroni Seely-Roberts in his face Sept. 23, 2022, at Ida B. Wells High School.


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