Beast Mode

Avon Grove’s Fran­cis pun­ish­ing foes with in­cred­i­ble sea­son

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Seren­ity Bishop For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia @Seren­i­tyJBishop on Twit­ter

LON­DON GROVE » Avon Grove’s Kevin Fran­cis has been build­ing some­thing on the field this sea­son for the Red Devils.

But, away from his gaudy stats and a sur­pris­ing 3-0 Ches-Mont League start for his squad, Fran­cis has been build­ing some­thing else, too.

“I’ll tell you this, he had metal shop last year and he went and built this bar­be­cue and prob­a­bly could have sold it for $500,” said Avon Grove head coach Harry O’Neill. “I saw him putting it in his car one day and I go ‘What’s that?’ and he says, ‘Oh, I made it in metal shop.’ “I was like, ‘That thing’s awe­some, can I have it?’” While Fran­cis clearly has tal­ents out­side of foot­ball, he gets his mul­ti­tude of nick­names for his per­for­mance on the field. So far, he’s hear­ing two more of­ten than the oth­ers: Kevin Heaven, and Ham­mer Head.

His hard nose, down­hill run­ning style has pun­ished wouldbe-tack­lers all sea­son and his broad shoul­ders have car­ried his team to a four-game win streak af­ter a shaky start.

Like many ath­letes, Fran­cis tries to em­u­late one of his fa­vorite foot­ball play­ers.

“Beast Mode,” said Fran­cis. “I al­ways watch foot­ball and I watched how Mar­shawn Lynch ran and I just wanted to be like him. Run as hard as you can and I think I’ve been run­ning just like him.”

Through seven games, Fran­cis has rushed for 1,417 yards and 20 touch­downs on 210 car­ries. Ac­cord­ing to the Daily Lo­cal News-area sta­tis­tics, that is twice as many car­ries as the sec­ond-place run­ning back (Ken­nett’s Gar­rett Cox has 110), and nearly twice as many yards as his clos­est chaser (Coatesville’s Aaron Young with 759 yards).

It’s safe say Fran­cis has chan­neled his in­ner “Beast Mode.”

“It’s pretty much just my line,” said Fran­cis. “They’re mak­ing amaz­ing blocks and I’m just run­ning through th­ese holes. On out­side zones, my re­ceivers are do­ing amaz­ing. It’s just my of­fense help­ing me out, I’m just run­ning the ball.”

Two weeks ago, Avon Grove faced off against Down­ing­town West, and Fran­cis ran wild. Along with help from the rest of the Avon Grove of­fense, Fran­cis rush for 390 yards and five touch­downs in a 38-17 vic­tory over the Whip­pets, rewrit­ing the Avon Grove and Ches-Mont record books in the process.

“The whole game I didn’t know I had 50 car­ries and 390 yards, I was just run­ning the ball,” said Fran­cis. “I didn’t re­al­ize what was go­ing on. Af­ter the game, coach told me I al­most ran for 400 yards and I was like ‘that’s crazy,’ but it was def­i­nitely my line. They just dom­i­nated that game. They did amaz­ing.”

“He’s a great runner,” said line­man Joel Mo­gaka. “He has a lot of power as you can see on his hel­met. He re­spects his of­fen­sive line a lot and we ap­pre­ci­ate that, but he does a lot for him­self. Things like off the field in the weight room. Hon­estly, we make our blocks and then it’s just arm tack­les from there and he breaks those arm tack­les. We do well and we get him to where he needs to go and then he does the rest from there.

“He makes our job way eas­ier,” Mo­gaka con­tin­ued. “I al­ways knew he could run like that, but I never knew he could put up stats like that. He didn’t get a lot of touches be­fore be­cause we had Nate (Jones) and he played full­back, but when he came out and started play­ing run­ning back it was like ‘OK, I see you.’”

Ob­vi­ously, Fran­cis is do­ing well on the field, but not ev­ery­one knows he is do­ing just as well aca­dem­i­cally.

“I love math,” said Fran­cis. “I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to be ma­jor­ing in ac­count­ing in col­lege and no one re­ally knows that I’m good in math. They just think of me as a hitter, a foot­ball player, a jock. That’s it.”

“He’s a phe­nom­e­nal stu­dent,” O’Neill said. “He’s ranked in the top 150 of the school. His SATs are solid.

“Ev­ery­thing he does he does the best,” O’Neill con­tin­ued. “He just a driven guy and as hum­ble as could be. He has no ego what­so­ever. Af­ter the game I tell him the stats. He’s a re­ally good stu­dent and he has de­vel­oped into a re­ally good cap­tain. He’s the voice that makes us go. He’s a tremen­dous leader and I don’t think peo­ple re­al­ize that about him. When I got here four years ago and I en­vi­sioned a guy that could help me change the cul­ture from an at­ti­tude and a work ethic stand­point, it was him.

“I’ve been coach­ing for 36 years and you get once in a while blessed with a guy like that,” said O’Neill. “He re­minds me of a guy I coached at St. James, Bobby Schall, I coached him in the mid-90s and he was my all-time fa­vorite player and to com­pare [Fran­cis] to a guy like him, is big for me.”

Af­ter re­bound­ing from an 0-3 start, the Red Devils are on a tear. Avon Grove has won four straight games in­clud­ing a per­fect 3-0 Ch­esMont start.

The test gets much tougher Fri­day night with a trip to Coatesville, ranked fifth in the most re­cent Pa. Prep Live Top 20.

“I love math . ... and no one re­ally knows that I’m good in math. They just think of me as a hitter, a foot­ball player, a jock. That’s it.” — Avon Grove’s Kevin Fran­cis


Avon Grove run­ning back Kevin Fran­cis stands with his of­fen­sive line — Max Paschall, Con­nor Long, Bryan Ayres, Jack Casey, Joel Mo­gaka, Nick Pino and Josh Brock­son — af­ter a prac­tice ses­sion this week.


Avon Grove run­ning back Kevin Fran­cis makes a move at prac­tice Wed­nes­day with coach Harry O’Neill watch­ing in


Avon Grove run­ning back Kevin Fran­cis with his fel­low run­ning back block­ers; Dy­lan Estes, Tyler Boyd and Scott O’Neill.

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