Franklin Community’s leading tackler from a year ago takes pride in being much more than a dependable cornerback.
And when Lane Voris says much, he means much.
Voris, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound senior cornerback, produced 77 tackles last season while finding the time and energy to amass 301 all-purpose yards mostly through kick and punt returns.
The Grizzly Cubs will need more than another productive season from Voris to reverse the program’s fortunes after a 1-9 finish in 2015 — the program’s lowest win total since a one-victory 2009 season.
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All the same, he makes for an excellent starting point.
“Lane is primarily a defensive player for us, but what’s nice is I think we have three positions on offense we can put him at,” fourth-year Franklin coach Adam Reese said. “He can play fullback for us, he can play halfback for us and he can play wide receiver for us.
“He really is the type of kid who just enjoys being on the field. Anything I ask him to do, he wants more of it. Lane will do anything that’s asked of him at any time, and do it with a smile on his face.”
Voris is coming off a season in which he was called on to run the football in three different games, run back kickoffs in four and return punts in three.
He also will be called upon to do the long snapping when the Grizzly Cubs punt the football.
Perhaps Voris’ best overall performance — at least statistically — came in the Grizzly Cubs’ 54-7 loss to Columbus North in the season opener. Voris recorded a season-high 12 tackles against the Bull Dogs and returned four kickoffs for a total of 100 yards.
Against Shelbyville the following week, he brought back a punt 79 yards for his lone touchdown of the season. Voris also had a hand in — or rather, on — his squad’s lone victory, a 10-7 decision at Martinsville. Against the Artesians, he deflected three passes, made an interception and collected six tackles.
By season’s end he was averaging 14.2 yards per kickoff return, and he netted a 27.7 norm on three punt returns.
Voris, who doesn’t like to be on the Franklin sideline, isn’t there very often.
“It’s more the coaches’ choice. I don’t have a whole lot of say in where I play,” Voris said. “But I definitely think I’m all right with that. Whatever helps the team.”
A safety last season, Voris will play cornerback starting with Friday night’s season opener at Columbus North.
Franklin plans to implement what is a modified 4-2-5 defense; the Grizzly Cubs started out playing a 4-3 last season and eventually made the switch to a 4-4.
That scheme positioned Voris to play outside linebacker.
“The change was rough at first. The biggest difference, really, is at corner you have to read things faster,” Voris said. “At safety you start anywhere from eight to 12 yards back, but with corner you’re right up there.
“That’s been the biggest transition for me. I like this defense. We still have to learn it a little better, but it definitely suits our personnel.”
Voris is one of seven defensive starters back for Franklin. He looks forward to his final season of high school football playing alongside players he’s known most of his life.
“What’s going to be awesome about our senior year is the majority of the guys here I’ve been with since we were young,” Voris said. “Going through all these summer workouts in the heat … just knowing these guys around me have been through the exact same stuff that I have.”
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
2016 football schedule
Aug. 19;at Columbus North;7 p.m.
Aug. 26;Shelbyville;7 p.m.
Sept. 2;Brownsburg;7 p.m.
Sept. 9;at Whiteland;7 p.m.
Sept. 16;Martinsville;7 p.m.
Sept. 23;at Mooresville;7 p.m.
Sept. 30;Plainfield;7 p.m.
Oct. 7;at Greenwood;7 p.m.
Oct. 14;Decatur Central;7 p.m.
First & 10 with … Alex Blackwell, Franklin senior running back
1. What would you consider your team’s greatest strength going into this season?
I would say our experience. We have a lot of seniors coming back, mostly on defense.
2. What’s something you feel that the team still needs to improve upon?
Just everywhere. Every place could get better.
3. “One game at a time” clichés aside, which game on your schedule are you looking forward to the most?
Brownsburg, actually. Their quarterback (senior and Clemson verbal commitment Hunter Johnson) was the MVP at the Elite 11 camp, so that will be cool. It will be a fun game.
4. If you could pick a theme song for the 2016 Grizzly Cubs, what would it be?
Maybe like “Back in Black” (by AC/DC). Our practice jerseys are black.
5. What’s the most critical part of your pregame routine? Any particular superstitions?
Not really. No, I don’t have one. I’m really not superstitious.
6. What is your least favorite football team, pro, college or otherwise? How come?
New England Patriots, because they cheated that one time.
7. If you could sit down for dinner with one athlete, who would it be?
Probably Peyton Manning. I’ve looked up to him my entire life.
8. What’s the biggest difference between last year’s team and this year’s team?
I feel like we have a lot more confidence, which comes from experience.
9. Franklin fans will be proud of this team because …
Of our heart. We won’t quit. We’ll keep going. Keep fighting.
10. If you could write the script for the 2016 season, how would it end?
With a sectional championship. That’s what we’re all looking for. It’s been a while, but we look at that as motivation.
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Adam Reese
Last year: 1-9, lost to Columbus East 56-28 in Class 5A sectional first round
Who’s back: Offense — Jake Moore, senior QB; Tyler Fromer, junior RB; T.J. Ahlefeld, senior RB; Hunter Samples, junior RB; Stone Peddycord, senior WR; Parker Shepard, junior OL; Tommy Reed, junior OL; George Admire, sophomore OL; Ben VanDyke, junior OL; Alex VanDyke, senior OL; R.J. Parmer, junior OL. Defense — Lane Voris, senior S; Kyle Davis, junior S; Alex Blackwell, senior CB; Ranger Soots, junior CB; Alec MacLennan, junior S; Jake Moore, senior LB; Tyler Fromer, junior LB; Tommy Reed, junior LB; Manny Cheam, junior DL; Jacob Lamping, senior DL; Alex VanDyke, senior DL; Nate Sellers, junior DL.
Outlook: Franklin must improve on both sides of the football after being outscored by a total of 411-123 last season. Five starters return on offense and another seven on defense in an attempt to make this happen. Moore is a proven commodity at quarterback, having run for 419 yards and thrown for 356 in the Grizzly Cubs’ flexbone triple option offense in 2015. Bringing back Voris (77 tackles), Fromer (59), VanDyke (47), Soots (46) and Reed (44) and Blackwell (39), among others, solidifies the defense. Twelve of the 16 players who finished last season with a double-digit tackle total are back.
Reese says: “We’re expecting to be competitive and win some football games. What I have enjoyed as much as anything about this particular group is that they just seem to like playing football. Practices are fun to be at, kids fly around and they have fun when they’re out there. That’s been the most enjoyable part to me.”