Francois a Player of Many Talents for Danvers High Boys Hoopsters

The Danvers High Basketball Falcons have arguably the best starting five in the Northeastern Conference (Lynn English and Salem might protest) and on the North Shore (cross-town neighbor St. John’s Prep might object). Five uniquely talented players in their own individual and team-oriented ways.

But when it comes to choosing the most versatile of the “fab five” at both ends of the court, keen observers just might select junior off-guard Rashad Francois. He’s got the coolest name, too.

Fact is the 6-foot, 160-pound junior is capable of providing a boost to the Falcons’ fortunes at any time thanks to his quickness, his leaping ability, his ball-stealing talent and his offensive thrusts as a penetrator and three-point bomber.

Francois’ role has been expanded even more this season with his improved defense. “Rashad is obviously a key component of our offense,” says coach John Walsh, “but we’ve got him guarding a top scorer from the other team as well. We give him a lot of responsibility, but he can handle it.”

What more could you want from a player? As one Northeastern Conference observed after getting burned by Francois more way than he cared to admit earlier this season, “Danvers’ five starters all have their strengths, but Francois can beat you so many ways. He’s the main reason I’m glad we’re not playing them again. Once is enough.”

Francois, brother of freshman backup guard Tagh Coakley, can break open a game with his three-pointer, as he did at Beverly when he canned five of them, but his game offers equal impact when he’s part of the Falcons’ feared press, knocking balls loose, intercepting passes, diving for loose balls. Then there his his ability to split zone defenses and embarrass man-to-man defenses with twisting, lightning-quick drives to the basket.

He’s liable to crash the offensive boards and outjump teammates and foes alike and his passing is underrated. He’s bailed out the Falcons on more than one occasion with clutch plays, especially a must-make three, in crunch time.

“I learned about pressure last year when I started next to mark McCarthy; a great experience,” says Francois. “I like to tho k I’m handling it better this year playing alongside ¬†Devonn (point guard Devonn Allen).”

Both Allen, a super sophomore, and Francois can sink the three, and they try and establish that threat early in games to open up the inside for Peter Merry and Devan Harris and give Vinny Clifford, another top-notch three-point shooter, room to fire away.

Francois grew up in the Danvers school system, going from the Riverside Elementary School to the Holten-Richmond Middle School to DHS. Walsh saw Francois’ potential early on. That’s why he got the chance to practice some with the varsity as an eighth grader. “That made me feel real good,” said Francois. “Coach said I’d be a starter sooner than I thought. My sophomore year was soon enough. Now I think I’m a smarter player. I know better when to take chances.”

All of which has paid off handsomely for the unbeaten Falcons as they shoot for their ninth successive win of thre season tonight, at home,  (7 p.m.) against 8-2 Salem.




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