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October 6, 2012Franklin-Elk Grove has risen to No. 4 in the NCP Top 20 after a 5-0 run during non-league. Looking dominant at times, the Wildcats had to hang on late against a game Grant squad to beat the Pacers 34-26.
Featuring a little bit of everything in its offensive attack, Franklin was keyed by quarterback Trent Spallas (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) and running back Kyran Harris (5-foot-9, 190 pounds). Franklin head coach Mike Johnson credited Spallas with his best game of the year with an efficient 125 yards. The Wildcats had success on short hitches and intermediate routes. His top target was senior Dionte Young (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) with three catches for 72 yards.
On the ground, it was Harris with 146 yards and four touchdowns mostly between the tackles. He is a physical runner with breakaway speed. This was seen on a 70 yard scamper on the first play of the second half to put Franklin up 28-13. Steven Rogers also got eight carries and despite Christian Fonbuena and Joey Banks being limited, this is an attack that runs out of spread type looks but can control the action with a running game.
Franklin's first two scoring drives lasted 4:52 and 3:25 in rarely getting in bad down and distance situations and having a good feel for play calling. The Wildcats also went on a on a drive spanning 6:51, but it resulted in a turnover on downs at Grant's six yard line. It is a tough offense to scheme against, but one issue was a lack of big plays (just two more than 20 yards).
Defensively, the Wildcats have plenty of athletes and were able to cover well on the majority of snaps and get pressure off the edges. However, they gave up too many big plays down the stretch. Rogers and Banks are quick off the ball to force Isaiah Rios out of rhythm while Marcus Green leads a deep secondary. Green, a little undersized at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, does a good job of turning to run with receivers and competes for the ball well against bigger receivers. He is one of the top cover guys we have seen this year.
Going forward, the Wildcats will be among the teams vying for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I section title and likely regional bowl bid in either the Open Division or Division I game. Franklin has a good mix of athleticism on both sides of the ball, a strong senior class and a team which will be tested before the playoffs and had postseason success a year ago. Northern California football in general is somewhat down compared to the last couple of years. Without playing a complete game yet this season, Franklin's best football will still have to be ahead of them. It plays Davis this week before a showdown with No. 2 Elk Grove on October 19.
Grant falls to 2-4 with the loss in now trying to scramble to secure a playoff bid. With games remaining against Elk Grove, Davis, Laguna Creek and Monterey Trail, the Pacers' likely final record is 5-5 with a loss to Elk Grove. This puts the Pacers squarely on the buddle when looking at recent playoff brackets. Grant still has its share of athletes, including running back Marquise Carter-Petit, and a defense which didn't allow the big play on Friday. Don't sleep on the Pacers over the next month.
Grant's standout was senior Trayvon Henderson, who played like he should be ranked in the Rivals database. The 6-foot-2, 195 safety prospect, caught two touchdown passes including one where he broke tackles and showed speed breaking away for the score. He is also a sure tackler in space as the safety valve for the Pacers' defense. He projects as a 3-star prospect.
Franklin: Harris 7 yard run (PAT Good) 7-0 Franklin with 5:22 left in the first quarter
Franklin: Harris 8 yard run (PAT Good) 14-0 Franklin with 10:56 left in the second quarter
Grant: Isaiah Rios to Henderson for 48 yards (PAT Good) 14-7 Franklin with 5:35 left in the second quarter
Franklin: Harris 17 yard run (PAT Good) 21-7 Franklin with 3:47 left in the second quarter
Grant: Rios to Darrion Jeffery for 9 yards (PAT no good) 21-13 Franklin with 1:02 left in the second quarter
Franklin: Harris 70 yard run (PAT Good) Franklin leads 28-13 with 11:37 left in the third quarter
Grant: Rios to Henderson for 15 yards (failed two point conversion) Franklin leads 28-19 with 5:31 left in the fourth quarter
Grant: Rios to Treivon Brooks for 10 yards (PAT Good) Franklin leads 28-26 with 51.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter
Franklin: Franklin blocks potential game winning field goal and it is returned for a score by Young on the last play of the game