A high-octane offense has powered the Franklin boys soccer team for much of the season, but with goals likely harder to come by during this week’s sectional, the Grizzly Cubs’ fortunes might well be determined by the young men in back.
Helping the cause will be the return of senior tri-captain E.J. Young, who has been working his way back after missing two matches with an ankle injury.
Young, along with classmate Robert Velasquez, will be tasked with helping to keep Grizzly Cubs netminder Dylan Bastin out of trouble starting Tuesday evening, when Franklin hosts Whiteland in a first-round match.
“We’ve had some trouble in the back as far as giving up goals that shouldn’t be allowed,” Young said. “Going into the tournament, I’m going to really have to step up and prevent those.
“The communication aspect, that’s really going to be my big role, just making sure that the younger guys in the back are sharp and ready for what comes at them.”
Franklin is more likely to be ready now that Young and some other key players are largely healed up from midseason injuries. Senior forward Joe Nerding has been working his way back into the lineup as well.
Young, who credits head athletics trainer Marcus Davis with getting him and the rest of the Grizzly Cubs back in time for the tournament, says that having players out here and there has hurt in terms of chemistry, but he expects the team to be ready this week.
“It was good to get (the injuries) out of the way before the sectionals rolled around,” Young said. “That’s part of the season; you’re going to get guys beat up. That’s just the nature of the sport with 16 games in a short amount of time.”
If all goes according to plan, Franklin hopes to have three matches this week and more after that. Whether that plan comes to fruition will depend largely on how stingy Young and the Grizzly Cubs are.
“We don’t expect scoring seven to nine goals a game against the teams we’re going to be playing,” Franklin coach Tony Harris said.