Holtville Bulldogs Head Coach Jason Franklin Retires After Successful 2023 Football Season

Holtville Bulldogs Head Coach Jason Franklin Retires After Successful 2023 Football Season

Jason Franklin will never forget his 2023 football season.

With 16 years as a head coach and seven at Holtville, Franklin decided to hang up his spikes after the conclusion of play this season.

His last year as head coach of the Bulldogs was certainly a memorable one.

A year ago they only managed a 3-8 record, but this season the English Fillies played for regionals unprecedented in nearly four decades and ended up with an even more impressive seven victories against their ten losses. The team placed second and hosted only the third playoff game since 1993.

The 2023 Elmore County Football Coach of the Year is Franklin for his team's success.

Knowing this would be our last season, it was sweet and bitter to go out in the type of season we had. Everyone gave us everything they had week after week and I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.

Since the beginning of offseason, Franklin knew his team could be good. Lots of teams have come off a 3-8 season and can't say that, so the pieces were there for success.

Keiland Baker, a returning all-state quarterback for Holtville would no longer be splitting time at QB.

Receiver favorite Erik Adkins returned along with two other 6-foot-4 receivers. Taking only the offensive line, nearly everyone from last year returned.

Defensive players such as defensive lineman Anthony Chunn or linebackers Luke Strength and Josh Jimenez were the key returnees on defense.

They weren't the only players that came back from Chicago with experience, and it showed as his team took to the field.

According to Franklin, this year's guys were different in terms of experience and maturity level. So a lot of our guys were more mature, and knew what was expected. All they did was go out and killed one each week, with a preparatory process. But they knew just what it would take to win. There were some good things that happened along the way. Success comes with good fortune.”

Although Franklin understood his team could be a good one, that became much clearer after the Bulldogs' first game of their season.

Holtville hopped on the bus to Birmingham at the beginning of this year and played its first game in its brand new stadium against a greatly improved Fultondale. Fultondale appeared to be on its way to a disastrous start when it cruised through the first half with a 24-0 lead while handing Holtville two blocked punts, returning one for six points and adding another pick-six.

But despite this deficit, the determined Holtville never let up. But Baker hooked up with Adkins at the conclusion of first half to cut Fultondale's lead to 24-7, and then Holtville came out firing in the second half with an amazing 21 points in a row that left mouth hanging open on stunned patrons.

That first come from behind win said a lot about the character and poise of our bunch says Franklin. “That was when I realized that this group might have a little bit of the extra, something different. You wouldn't dare doubt them ever after.”

It was a mindset that persisted throughout the season.

Only a few weeks later, Holtville was back on the road down. In the final minute of their game against West Blocton, Holtville surrendered its lead. But it never once lost confidence in themselves.

West Blocton was stunned as Holtville came back from 27-26. Baker then threw a 60-yard pass to Adkins for an eventual score, and with just thirteen seconds remaining he found Elijah Headley open in the corner of the end zone.

Franklin puts it this way: We were never out of a game. The attitude was always, we’ll have ’em eventually and I liked their trust in each other. That's just part of what made them so much fun to coach here this year. We gave 100 % effort, no matter who we played.

The prodigious season closed out what was already a remarkable career for the head ball coach. In his 16 years, Franklin has coached at and won at both Holtville and Horseshoe Bend. He himself has been to the playoffs nine times in those quarters of a century. It includes the last six seasons at Holtville since Davis took over a program that won only four games out of 16 in four years before.

He helped turn both programs around, and this year's seven wins and home playoff game were just the frosting on the cake.

So said Franklin, Every coach wants to go out there every day and put a good product on the field. I really enjoyed it and loved my experience here I’ve loved my time here. It has been a great blessing to my family and myself. Because I'd already decided to retire, having a good season and winning ball games made it much more fun.