‘Believe in themselves’: Tim Snow has Franklin football a win away from the playoffs

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with player Ryan Mango during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with player Ryan Mango during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Franklin football team is missing some players due to injury as they face their foe Bishop Brady this Saturday. If they win, they are in the playoffs.

The Franklin football team is missing some players due to injury as they face their foe Bishop Brady this Saturday. If they win, they are in the playoffs. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Franklin quarterback Zeke McCoy (center) has had the chance to work with Snow since his coach’s arrival in 2021. “Even if we have bad games, he always finds a positive thing to tell us,” McCoy said. “He pushes us to what we can be and what we can do.”

Franklin quarterback Zeke McCoy (center) has had the chance to work with Snow since his coach’s arrival in 2021. “Even if we have bad games, he always finds a positive thing to tell us,” McCoy said. “He pushes us to what we can be and what we can do.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with the team during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with the team during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Franklin quarterback Zeke McCoy (center) has had the chance to work with Snow since his coach’s arrival in 2021. “Even if we have bad games, he always finds a positive thing to tell us,” McCoy said. “He pushes us to what we can be and what we can do.”

Franklin quarterback Zeke McCoy (center) has had the chance to work with Snow since his coach’s arrival in 2021. “Even if we have bad games, he always finds a positive thing to tell us,” McCoy said. “He pushes us to what we can be and what we can do.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with the team during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.

Franklin head football coach Tim Snow talks with the team during practice at the high school on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 10-27-2023 10:57 AM

Two years ago, Franklin football had just finished the season 0-8. The Golden Tornadoes scored one touchdown all year. They were outscored 323-8 overall.

Head coach Tim Snow’s first season at Franklin High School in 2021 finished somewhat as expected for a program that had dealt with severe internal struggles over the previous few years. But it’s what he did after the season ended that signified a major culture shift.

For years, Snow ran a football camp in Laconia where he’d developed relationships with a number of former players for the New England Patriots. Each year, the Patriots host a “Game with the Greats” at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro when the team is on the road, and guests have virtually open access to see the facilities and locker rooms before watching the game from the stands with former players. After that 2021 season, Snow pulled some strings to take his team down for the day.

“A lot of kids still talk about it,” Snow said. “It was probably one of their only chances that some of them would ever get to go to Gillette. That was a big deal.”

It was a big deal in the moment, of course, because what football player in New England wouldn’t be ecstatic about this opportunity? But as the program looks back on it now, two years later, a win away from clinching a playoff berth, it’s the message Snow sent to his players in giving them this once-in-a-lifetime experience that laid the groundwork for turning their fortunes around: He cares about them. Deeply.

“He didn’t have to do that,” Franklin athletic director Dan Sylvester said. “The season was over. We didn’t win a game that year. He could’ve just said, ‘I’ll see you guys in a couple weeks when we start lifting. Good luck in basketball.’ But he pulled that whole trip together.”

It’s hardly the only example of Snow going the extra mile.

In the three years he’s been the head coach, he’s done far more than just coach football from August through October. He shows up to basketball games, he checks in with the kids about school and he makes sure to stay in contact with their families.

An eye for coaching

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In a previous career (he now works in disaster remediation), Snow worked in Franklin as a police officer. He understands the community well, and he feels compelled to do what he can to make a positive impact.

“A lot of coaches are like, ‘I’m just gonna coach during my season. I’ll get involved in some of my kids’ lives, but what I don’t know won’t hurt me,’” Sylvester said. “He’s the total opposite. He likes to know what’s going on. Let’s not lie: Being a police officer has probably trained him to do a lot of those things, so he was kind of at an advantage, but still, he doesn’t have to go above and beyond like he does.”

Currently 3-3 this season, Franklin’s final regular season game on Saturday against rival Bishop Brady will decide who snags the final playoff spot in Division IV. The game will also be the third annual Kaplan Kup, in honor of Jeff Kaplan, a former football coach at both schools who died in 2021.

Turning around the Golden Tornadoes’ football program – from one touchdown in a season to a possible playoff appearance – has hardly come from just improved technique on the field. It’s required someone who understands the community and has the tools to tap into his players.

In other words, Snow’s been the perfect fit.

“I know how hardscrabble Franklin is, but what a great community it is with a lot of good people in it,” he said. “It gets a bad rap, and a lot of these kids, I feel, were labeled with this stigma of being from Franklin. … Our biggest goal and challenge was to get rid of that stigma and change that mentality that your surroundings determine whether you’re a winner or a loser. It’s up to you to make that decision and then you believe in yourselves and believe in your teammates and your coaches and your parents and the teachers and everybody around that supports you.”

‘Back on your feet’

In the few seasons prior to Snow’s arrival in Franklin, poor discipline severely hampered the program.

“We’d been beat down,” Sylvester said. “The first year he came in, we made a ton of adjustments, things were looking up, but it still didn’t turn into wins. We literally won zero games.”

Then the next season, the Golden Tornadoes finished 1-6, but the offense showed improvement. Focus pivoted from worrying about wins and losses to simply scoring points.

It all set the stage for success this year, including hard-fought wins over Winnisquam (24-21) and Mascoma Valley (7-6).

Snow pointed to the win against Mascoma as a perfect example of how the program has grown. On their second play on offense, the Golden Tornadoes lost a fumble.

“Two years ago and part of last year, they would’ve given up, they would’ve thought nothing was going to go right, just another game for Franklin,” Snow said. “Now, they battle through that stuff. … That’s what I hope they remember. Life’s going to throw stuff at you every day, and you’ve got two choices: You can give up, or you can fight and get back on your feet, and that’s what they’ve done.”

Senior quarterback Zeke McCoy has had the chance to work with Snow since his coach’s arrival in 2021. As is the case with any competitive football team, success largely stems from success at the quarterback position.

A captain for this year’s team, Snow didn’t just bestow the title on McCoy. As he explained, being captain of your high school football team isn’t just some cool thing to brag about to people.

“It’s a responsibility to pull people in to work as hard as you do and to do things that you do to make each other better,” Snow said. “Zeke has been a role model in that respect to try to get people to work as hard as he does. And he does work hard.”

On the other side, having Snow as the coach to help guide the players in the right direction also goes a long way.

“Even if we have bad games, he always finds a positive thing to tell us,” McCoy said. “He pushes us to what we can be and what we can do.”

Snow knew before the season that his group was capable of making the playoffs. A note on a board in their locker room has reminded them of his expectations. Maybe that felt a little ambitious with the program having won just one game combined in the previous two seasons, but Franklin’s turnaround has proven that with the right coach and mindset, student-athletes can find success.

At times, the journey has been ugly. At times, it’s felt hopeless. But if there’s one thing Snow wants his players to take away from this season, it’s the power of belief.

“I wanted these kids to believe in themselves, and it’s taken this long for it to happen,” Snow said. “This year, we can see the results.”