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An offense loaded with special skill players coupled with a relentless and veteran defense was a potent combination for Franklin as the team crushed opponents on their way to a second straight league title and a 10-win campaign that included a rare post-season victory.
The Wildcats excited fans with outstanding play in all phases of the game. Rodney Roberts has rallied the troops at the place where he once starred during an unmatched era of success for the program. He has instilled a “killer instinct” that his players have incorporated into all phases of their game which has left foes with bruised bodies and battered egos. The opposition now knows that when you play Franklin it is going to be a long night.
Let’s take a game-by-game look at Franklin Wildcats 2012 campaign:
GAME #1 – FRANKLIN 20, CARLISLE 13 - Franklin appeared to pick up where they left off a year earlier as a favorite for one of the eight playoff spots in Region 8. The Wildcats knocked off a very good Division IV, Carlisle squad. Senior running back Chris Hymer was not going to be denied a victory, running for 131 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Hymer would finish with 183 all-purpose yards. Sophomore quarterback Luke Kennard got his first varsity start and threw and ran for scores. Devin Richards was on the receiving end of Kennard’s touchdown pass. The Wildcats’ defense would bend, but did not break as they gave up 340 yards to the Indians. Franklin registered 3.0 sacks, one each from Jacob Wright, Daniel Johnson and Kyle Creech. Carlisle junior quarterback Levi Boyer tried to keep his team close, but Franklin was too much for them on defense. Boyer threw for 202 yards while connecting with classmate Dylan Clay and Gideon Cunningham for scores.
GAME #2 – FRANKLIN 45, WEST CARROLLTON 17 – Things started off slow for Franklin, but by the time the final seconds came off the clock it would be a very convincing performance from the home team. The Wildcats spotted West Carrolton a 3-0 advantage after a quarter. Franklin then went on to post 24 unanswered points to put the contest out of reach. The Franklin offense amassed 473 yards of total offense. Hymer ran for a game-high 123 yards and a touchdown. Johnson pitched in with 74 more yards and a score on the ground. Kennard threw for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Braedon Lamb was on the receiving end of one of those scoring strikes and another one from Connor Stickelman. Receiver Stickleman led Franklin with five receptions and 48 yards. Richards and Evan Crowe also had receiving touchdowns for the victors. The defense came up with three takeaways and recorded 3.0 sacks one each from Alex Nori, Kraig Hill and Kelly LeForce. Richards and Matt Thompson had interceptions.
GAME #3 – MIAMISBURG 13, FRANKLIN 10 – Missed opportunities plagued Franklin as miscues saw them surrender a 10-0 second half lead in falling to Division I Miamisburg. Three Wildcat turnovers, including a 10-yard pick six by Vikings linebacker Tyler Ikerd, squashed Franklin’s hopes for a third straight win to start the year. Stickelman scored the Wildcats’ only touchdown on a 36-yard hook up with Kennard to get the scoring started in the first quarter. Stickelman finished the game with six receptions for 87 yards. Defensively, Wildcats’ senior Cody Wagers recorded 3.0 sacks.
GAME #4 – FRANKLIN 39, MONROE 6 – A week after taking it on the chin, Franklin got big performances from plenty of their star players as they took down Monroe rather handily. Kennard had his best day in black going 17-of-23 for 307 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Stickelman had six receptions for 148 yards and two scores. Hymer scampered for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson did damage on both sides of the ball, running for 56 yards on three carries and score while coming up with a sack and a fumble recovery on defense. The Wildcats were all over the Hornets’ backfield amassing 6.0 sacks. Creech had 3.0 sacks and Wright came up with 2.0 more. That pressure caused four Monroe turnovers with Johnson, Creech and Layne Coffey recovering fumbles and Caleb Miller coming up with an interception.
GAME #5 – FRANKLIN 27, BELLLBROOK 6 – The Franklin defense continued to set the tone and their studs on offense are obliged to stick a dagger into their opponent’s hearts. The Wildcats forced five Bellbrook turnovers, came up with 3.5 sacks and held the Golden Eagles to just 3-11 on third and fourth-down conversions. Wright, Creech and Johnson have now combined for 12.0 sacks in the first five games of 2012. Miller had an interception for a second straight week and also came up with a fumble recovery. The Big 3 on offense did not disappoint. Hymer ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Kennard threw two more scoring strikes to Stickelman.
GAME #6 – FRANKLIN 34, MADISON 6 – For a fourth straight week Franklin held an opponent to one touchdown on their way to another smash-mouth win over Madison. A 27-point second quarter outburst was all the Wildcats needed to scalp the Mohawks. Hymer found the end zone three times in the contest and finished with 86 yards on the ground on just 12 totes. Sophomore Jake Riddell showed glimpses of his promising future with career highs of five catches, 135 yards receiving and a touchdown. Kennard played error-free football for a third straight week throwing for 206 yards and two scores. The Franklin defense did not record a sack after having at least three in each of the first five contests. Thompson came up with his second interception and Johnson had his third fumble recovery for the victors.
GAME #7 – FRANKLIN 42, VALLEY VIEW 13 – A balanced offensive attack and a tenacious defense spurred Franklin to their fourth straight victory. The Wildcats threw for 191 yards with three scores through the air. The ground game churned up another 240 yards and three more scores. Hymer ran for 114 yards and a touchdown. He broke the century mark for the fifth time in seven outings. Stickelman was unstoppable with 11 receptions for 144 yards and two scores. The senior also threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Lamb. Kennard had 157 yards and threw to scoring strikes to Stickelman. The Wildcats saw Ben Kirby, Matt Middleton and Thompson all recover Spartans fumbles.
GAME #8 – FRANKLIN 13, EATON 12 – Both teams came into this affair riding winning streaks and having huge playoff aspirations. Eaton put had Franklin down 12-6 at halftime. It was the first time this season that the Wildcats had trailed at intermission. A 37-yard connection form Kennard to Stickelman would be the difference in the contest. It is the ninth time that the duo has hooked up for scores and sixth straight game in which they did so. Hymer scored the other touchdown, but broke a string of four in a row with at least two scores. The hometown Eagles would win the time of possession battle and yardage battles but fell just short of a fourth consecutive victory.
GAME #9 – FRANKLIN 41, BROOKVILLE 13 – The offense returned in grand fashion as Franklin rode their skills players to a second straight SWBL Southwestern title at Brookville. The win gave the Wildcats a two-game advantage in league play heading into the regular season finale. Franklin posted 409 yards of total offense against the Blue Devils. Hymer ran for 183 yard with two touchdowns and 210 all-purpose yards. Kennard stretched the field as his nine completions went for 219 yards and three scores. Stickelman was on the receiving end of two of those scoring strikes. Ridell had three receptions for 58 yards with touchdown and 144 all-purpose yards. Kicker James Stacy was perfect going 2-of-2 on field goals and 5-of-5 on extra point attempts for a career-high mark of 11 points.
GAME #10 – FRANKLIN 42, OAKWOOD 14 – It was a dream come true Senior Night for Hymer and Stickelman as Franklin rolled to their seventh straight win and closed the year out 9-1 for a second straight season after disposing of Oakwood. Hymer found the end zone three times (2 rushing, 1 receiving) while rushing for 188 yards and accruing 249 all-purpose yards. Stickelman had seven receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Kennard also threw a touchdown pass to Crowe as Franklin generated 409 yards of total offense. For the past three seasons linebacker Nate Woods has been the heart and soul of the Wildcats defense and this night was no different. The senior and his teammates held the Lumberjacks to 131 total yards. Woods will finish his career as Franklin’s all-time leader in tackles.
GAME #11 – FRANKLIN 34, NORTHWEST 28 - Hymer broke out for Franklin in the first round of the Division II, Region 8 playoffs against Northwest. The Wildcats gave up a season-high 28 points, but never trailed in the affair as they got their first playoff victory since 1993. The Knights, who were making just their second ever playoff appearance with the other coming back in 1990, were led to this momentous season for their program by head coach Chad Murphy, a Franklin graduate. Hymer would run for a career-high 222 yards with three touchdowns. His last score came with less than five minutes left in the contest to seal the Knights’ fate. The senior raised his season totals to 1,490 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing. Stickelman had five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.
GAME #12 – TURPIN 42, FRANKLIN 14 – Every time that Turpin needed an answer against a tough Franklin defense Conner Jansen delivered. The First-Team All-Southwest District DII quarterback ran for 139 yards and three scores while methodically breaking down the Wildcats, who were allowing just 12 points per contest gave up a season high 42. Turpin converted 12-of-16 third-down attempts while racking up 412 yards of total offense as they quest for their first Region 8 title since 2006. Franklin was up for a challenge when they tied the score at 7-7 just 1:02 after Turpin jumped ahead half way through the first quarter. In a seven-minute stretch after that until the first play of the second stanza the Spartans built a 14-7 lead. It would stay that way until halftime. That began an unassuming run of 35 unanswered points for Turpin. The state’s #1 ranked team In Division II showed it was well worthy of the accolades. It was a tough night for the two-time SWBL Southwestern champs. They went combined 1-of-12 on third and fourth down conversion attempts. To add to Franklin’s dismay was their inability to stretch the field against the Spartans’ secondary. Turpin held Stickelman to five receptions for 34 yards. His 15th touchdown catch of 2012 came too late to break the Turpin run with only 90 seconds left in the affair. In defeat, Hymer ends a wonderful career with 109 yards rushing, 186 all-purpose yards and his 20th touchdown of the season.
MILESTONES AND MORE
--Franklin won the SWBL Southwestern Championship for a second straight season. It was the 11th league title for the program. The Wildcats made their eighth playoff appearance and claimed their first post-season victory since 1993. The 19 wins that Franklin amassed over the past two seasons are tied for second most during a two-year span in program history. They won 20 total games in 1988 & ‘89 and 19 in ’87 & ’88. It is the sixth time the program has won 10 games.
--Head coach Rodney Roberts is now 46-28 in seven years at his alma mater. He is 100-80 lifetime. It was the third time since 2004 that he has led a team to at least 10 wins (Roberts was head coach at Springboro when they won 10 in ’04 and 12 in ’05).
--Running back Chris Hymer carried the ball 237 times for 1,607 yards, both single season school records. Add in his 20 touchdowns (19 rushing) and Hymer’s efforts earned him Division II Special Mention All-Ohio, First-Team All-Southwest District honors and SWBL Southwestern Offensive Back of the Year.
--Connor Stickelman set the single-season records for receptions with 64 and receiving yards in a season with 947 while hauling in 15 touchdown passes. That effort garnered Stickelman Division II First-Team All-Ohio and SWBL Southwestern Wide Receiver of the Year accolades. Stickelman also tied the school record with 16 career touchdown receptions.
--Sophomore quarterback Luke Kennard made a big splash in his first year as a starter. Kennard threw for 1,880 yards and school record 24 touchdown passes on the season. The 6-foot-5 slinger was named Second-Team All-Southwest District and the SWBL Southwestern Quarterback of the Year.
--For three seasons Nate Woods was a tackling machine. The linebacker leaves the school with record 397 career tackles. Woods was named Division II Special Mention All-Ohio, First-Team All-Southwest District SWBL Southwestern Linebacker of the Year after being in on 144 total tackles, nine quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
--The opportunistic Caleb Miller recorded 114 total tackles, had five interceptions, six pass break ups, forced three fumbles, recovered another and blocked a school record six kicks in route to Second-Team All-Southwest District honors. The senior winds up with 13 picks and will continue his career next fall at Division II Tiffin.
--The defense was very solid, allowing just 14.1 points per game and nine opponents scored 13 points or less. That effort saw linebacker Kelly LeForce, linemen Cody Wagers, lineman Daniel Johnson and team “slobberknocker” champion Ben Kirby all garnered Second-Team All-SWBL Southwestern acclaim. Linebacker Kyle Creech and DB Matt Middleton were named Honorable Mention All-SWBL Southwestern.
--Junior offensive lineman Chase Henderson will be looked upon for leadership in 2012 after being named Second-Team All-SWBL Southwestern. Coach Roberts is hoping he learned well from senior Honorable Mention All-SWBL Southwestern selection Blake Gebhardt.
Franklin was one of one of five teams nominated for our TSF Dayton Team of the Year and was highlighted at our Year in Review Show last month.
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.