When the public address announcer for Decatur Central introduced senior wide receiver Tyrone Tracy on Friday as part of senior night festivities, he said Tracy “hopes to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft.”
Once the game began, Tracy, an Iowa recruit, showed why that might not be far-fetched.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound standout used his footwork, hands and leaping ability to produce 311 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against visiting Franklin, helping the Class 5A No. 3 Hawks to a 41-16 victory.
The win clinched a second straight outright Mid-State Conference championship for the Hawks, and dropped Franklin to 1-8. Decatur Central went 6-0 in Mid-State play, while the Cubs finished 1-5 in league games.
“He’s special,” Franklin coach Chris Coll said of Tracy. “With that kind of talent, they could have hung 70 on us, but we played hard and physical. We’ve been competitive defensively, and our offense is trying to grow.”
The Grizzly Cubs’ lone touchdowns came in the second half. Riley McCann opened the half with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Tyler Fromer’s 10-yard touchdown run with 1:42 to play rounded out the scoring.
Decatur Central built a 27-0 second-quarter lead before Franklin scored. The Grizzly Cubs’ first points came on a safety, when the Hawks were penalized for holding in their own end zone.
Fromer finished with 66 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Franklin quarterback Drew Byerly completed 6 of 16 passes for 115 yards. The Cubs finished with just 187 all-purpose yards to Decatur Central’s 442.
Hawks quarterback Bryce Jefferson, an Illinois State recruit, completed 12 of 18 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Tracy rushed for 136 yards on just eight carries and caught six passes for 175 yards.
After an 0-5 start in which opponents outscored Franklin 176-51, the Grizzly Cubs have been much more competitive down the stretch. Prior to Friday’s loss, they lost to Plainfield (5-4) and Greenwood (7-2) by a combined seven points, after defeating Mooresville, 52-14.
The Cubs will play at Martinsville (5-4) on Oct. 27 in the first round of 5A sectional play. The Artesians defeated Franklin 35-14 on Sept. 15, but Coll believes both teams have improved since then.
“We’ve got to keep developing,” Coll said. “We’ve been a pretty competitive team defensively down the stretch, but Martinsville’s good. The commitment from our kids has never wavered, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”