High School football is a way of life for family

PORTLAND — For Beverly Franchetti, it certainly was a sign of her hard work and dedication.

But all the laundry on the clothes lines also represented her boys' efforts and a great deal of pride in her family.

"My dad was so proud to have all the types of football pants and jerseys hanging on the line drying," said Peter Franchetti, who's been an assistant football coach for 28 years, including the past 16 with Mt. Blue High School. "My poor mother was always doing laundry for us, but my dad thought that was the neatest thing."

For the Franchettis, football isn't just a pastime. It's a way of life. Their football legacy extends back nearly 100 years and still goes strong today.

The late Bob Franchetti's son and grandson were both part of Mt. Blue's state championship win Saturday, continuing a legacy that began with Louis Franchetti, Bob's father, back in 1920.

"I know my dad and my grandfather have big smiles on their faces this week," Peter said.

Mt. Blue beat Marshwood 44-42 in the Class B state championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium, giving Peter Franchetti his first state title as a coach and the opportunity to do so with his son Anthony, a sophomore, on the Cougars team.

"It's storybook for me," Peter said. "It's every parent's dream, that if they coach their child in whatever sport, to win a state championship. It's really something else."

Peter's son, Anthony, a former water boy turned kicker and linebacker, was in the stands in 2005 when he watched his father and the Cougars lose to Bonny Eagle.

"I always wanted a chance to make it back here," Anthony said. "I remember when we were here in 2005, I was too young. I sat up there in the home stands. To be here right now is a dream come true. It's everything I would have wanted."

Peter is one of four brothers that were active in Mt. Blue football. Peter was the first and graduated in 1974. Brothers Steve, John and David followed. They were each part of a youth football program that began in 1968 and was the precursor to the Mt. Blue football program.

"It just snowballed from there," said Peter, who along with Steve, played on the Bass Weejuns, one of the first teams. "The success of Mt. Blue High School was a direct result of having that youth football in Wilton and Farmington."

Their football legacy started long before that. Louis Franchetti played for Wilton Academy in the 1920s and became a longtime official in various sports.

"I can remember as a young boy going along with him to places like Richmond, Jay, Livermore and Rumford," Peter said. "He knew everybody and was a retired official then."

Peter's father, Bob, took up the sport and played for Wilton and then played at MCI in 1947.

"He was a 19-year-old player playing against guys that just came back from the service that were 23 or 24 years old," Peter said.

So for Peter and his brothers, football became a natural part of their lives. Even now, when holiday gatherings happen, they include family, food and football, not necessarily in that order.

"We had an early Thanksgiving at my sister's house," Peter said. "The talk was all about football. It was the Sunday after we beat Waterville. Some of the female members of the family asked why we talked all about football. My wife says, 'It's a safe subject.' It brings us all together and it's a common thread that runs between us."

The legacy has carried on to the next generation. In addition to Anthony, David's son Alex was an all-state player in California and went on to play in college. Steve's son, Derek, was on the Jay team that lost to Bucksport in the Class C state championship in 2004.

"I remember how exciting it was when my son went to the states," Steve said. "It was so surreal at the time. You don't really realize what that moment means until you can think about it afterwards. There was a lot of excitement. It was just a happy time."

Steve wasn't able to attend Saturday's game because he had to work, but he followed the television coverage quite intently and hoped for the best for his brother and nephew.

"I told my son to have fun, play hard and play tough and just enjoy it," said Steve, recalling Derek's state game. "Before you know it, it's over. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. So enjoy the day."

Peter says the family support has been wonderful for him and Anthony. It was the same when the family rallied around Alex, Derek and Garret Strout, Peter's stepson, who also played for Mt. Blue.

Peter experienced the state championship game in 1991 when Jay lost to Stearns and was with Mt. Blue in the 2005 loss. To have another run at a state title and to be able to share it with his son has been the kind of joy any coach and parent longs for.

"It's been a terrific thing," Peter said. "All the years I've been coaching football, to have your own child with you and see him go through this process is so great. "

He bets his son has probably seen more Mt. Blue-related football than anybody else, with the exception of himself and head coach Gary Parlin. Peter has seen fellow coaches like Ray Caldwell, Pete Cooper and Dave Crutchfield all get to share such experiences with their sons.

"I'm so happy that my son gets to experience this," Peter said. "You dream about stuff like this and hope it comes to fruition."

For Anthony, he's heard about his family football legacy his entire life, making Saturday's championship celebration that much greater.

"My dad and I talked about that all the time," Anthony said. "It just means so much. I hope my kids want to play football and it just keeps going on."

kmills@sunjournal.com

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Bob Woodbury's picture

Larry Franchetti...

...was the quarterback on a single wing football team at Livermore Falls High School in the early 1950's. Uncle Louie Franchetti used to officiate some of those games. After one carry by Larry, Uncle Louie took the ball from a prone Larry, planted his foot, marking the ball placement and stared straight ahead, not wanting to look at his nephew on the ground. But Larry didn't get up. Louie didn't look down. Larry didn't get up. Louie didn't look down. Larry finally said "Uncle Louie. You're standing on my hand."

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