After an emotional pregame ceremony honoring two fallen teammates, the Franklin Community High School football team flipped the proverbial switch to business quickly in its home-opener Friday in front of a packed crowd.
The Grizzly Cubs, who lost would-be defensive starters Jason Moran and Michael Chadbourne during the summer in a drowning incident at a dam on the Big Blue River in Edinburgh, honored the would-be seniors the best way they knew how. They dominated an explosive Shelbyville offense with big plays of their own, cruising to a 49-21 non-conference victory.
“We know we have them on the field every play, in games and practices,” senior halfback Ryan Torrance said. “Every play, we have 13 guys on the field.”
It literally seemed that way at times, particularly when the Cubs were on offense. They rushed for 361 yards, and all seven of their touchdowns came on the ground.
Jacob Stevenson led the ground attack with 210 yards on 18 carries with three scores, while Torrance added 107 yards on just seven carries and two scores of his own. His second touchdown, a 71-yard pitch just two plays into the second half, gave Franklin (2-0) a comfortable 28-7 lead.
Shelbyville (1-1) never came closer than 14 points after that.
“We gained some good yardage on the outside, and that opened things up for us,” Franklin coach Adam Reese said. “The pregame provided an opportunity for a lot of emotions. It was emotional for me. But the kids came out and focused.”
The Cubs scored the game’s first two touchdowns, but Shelbyville responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 40-yard Mitch Orem touchdown reception with 3:43 remaining in the first half that cut Franklin’s lead in half (14-7).
The Cubs immediately responded, however, with a nine-play, 79-yard drive of their own. Torrance’s 7-yard run with 21.1 seconds left in the half gave Franklin a 21-7 edge, but it was set up by Damon Munn’s 34-yard reception three plays earlier, which gave the Cubs first-and-goal at the Golden Bears’ 6-yard line.
Munn set up one of Stevenson’s touchdowns with a 32-yard catch earlier in the first half as well and intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.
Franklin sophomore quarterback T.J. Ahlefeld completed 5 of 7 passes for 102 yards, all in the first half. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ special teams blocked a punt (Nik Welch, recovered by Austin Frankl) and recovered an onside kick (Drew Utterback).
“We did some good things on special teams today,” Reese said. “We covered kicks better, and that was a weakness last week.”
Shelbyville quarterback John Lux completed 18 of 26 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, but Franklin stopped the Golden Bears when it needed to. Shelbyville was 4 of 9 on third-down conversions, and Franklin held the Bears without points on a 14-play, 84-yard drive in the second quarter that lasted 5:13. Shelbyville stalled at the Franklin 5-yard line, when the Cubs stopped them on a fourth-and-2.
The Cubs host Brownsburg on Friday.