An Early Feast for Franklin Football


Sammy Patel

Franklin Football captured the Kelly – Rex crown with a win on Thanksgiving

Let them feast. It may have been Thanksgiving, but both Franklin Football and KP Football weren’t taking any breaks for their annual turkey day matchup. To add some more pressure for both teams, this game was for the Kelly -Rex title. Based on previous years, the game wasn’t looking so good for the Panthers. They had lost 18 straight games to KP and have lost 10 straight games on Thanksgiving. This year was different, they have one of the most talented squads of all time and they were ready to put it all on the line. Boy did they deliver, fighting right down to the wire Franklin Football won the Kelly-Rex crown for the first time since 2009. Though this was a sad day for all the Seniors as it was the last high school game they would play they decided that they would go out on their terms.

Let’s just say Franklin didn’t get off to a great start. Franklin’s high-powered offense was quelled on a quick 3 and out with KP taking full advantage off of that. RB Ryan Gately broke out for a 64-yard run setting up a KP TD to put them up quickly 7-0. Franklin was already feeling the pressure from KP in this key title game.

That wouldn’t be the end of their troubles though. Franklin immediately fumbled after that score giving the ball right back to KP. This was far from ideal for the Panthers, but surely the defense could get a stop to limit the damage of the turnover. QB Charlie Grant picked apart Franklin’s secondary to get KP up 14-0. Now it was panic time for Franklin. They needed to figure out things on offense and defense otherwise this game would get away from them too quickly.

KP was rolling early in the game, that wouldn’t last long for them (Sammy Patel)

The response wasn’t immediate, with Franklin and KP playing hot potato for a drive each.

Then the swing of momentum came Although Mack Gulla hadn’t been a force in the backfield yet, KP knew that they couldn’t take him for granted. This allowed for the execution of flea flicker by Franklin with Shane Kindred being hit in stride by Jared Arone for an 85-yard TD. Though the extra point was blocked this put Franklin right back into the game now down 14-6. This TD was enough to get Rattle City and the players energized.

Franklin’s defense came up big again stopping KP’s drive short and a questionable “punt” set up Franklin with outstanding field position. Arone had been running away from KP’s defensive line all day and he finally made great use of it going for a 45-yard TD that would be called back because of penalties, unfortunately. It is funny how refs can destroy some of the plays of the year but they have to do their job.

However, Franklin made up for the with Kindred hauling in his 2nd TD of the day. This time, Garret Portesi’s point after was good it made the game a 1 point game at 14-13. From here the momentum and advantage were on Franklin’s side as they were starting to put KP on the back foot. Fans from both sides were anticipating a close finish.

WR Shane Kindred would not be stopped on Turkey Day (Sammy Patel)

The Panthers were able to get the ball right back and made sure KP regretted giving them the ball. Kindred once again would not be stopped by KP racing down the sideline for a Franklin TD. It seems as if Patriot’s WR Kendrick Bourne took inspiration from this play and try to recreate it himself. However, once again the point after was blocked. Regardless, Franklin was now up 19-14 awaiting an answer from KP after Halftime.

KP answered right back putting together a methodical drive (9 plays 70 yards) to put themselves up 20-19 (the 2-point after was no good). This was the first drive-in a while that KP was able to get anything going, which would be a bit alarming for the Panthers. They couldn’t let KP gain momentum again and dig themselves into a hole late in the game.

Both teams once again knew that they had to get key stops so they both decided to play hot potato eventually giving the ball to Franklin. It would be sooner or later that M. Gulla would come into play, as the Franklin offense relied on him their late drive. He punched it in from 5 yards out giving Franklin the lead once again. They decided to go for 2 to try and put themselves up by 7, and Arone came up big again. He ran around looking for a good option to throw it to but ended up taking it in himself.

It was a tense 4th quarter with both teams failing to capitalize on offense. DE Jonathan Martins did recover a key fumble but the Panthers failed to make use of the turnover. It was not till late in the 4th that KP got something going as they found themselves driving with just over 2 minutes left in the half. Franklin was able to get some crucial stops in the drive set up a 4th and 1 right over midfield. This would decide the game.

Senior Jonathan Martins (#8) shows off the ball he recovered (Sammy Patel)

As mentioned before, the seniors weren’t ready to give up this game that easily, and Jack Marino knew this well. He came flying through on the 4th and 1 stuffing Gately far in the backfield ending the game. Though it wasn’t a flashy play, it may have been the play of the year for the Panthers helping them clinch the Kelly-Rex title.

Though Franklin wasn’t able to get a shot at the state title, they had a historic season. Making it to the Final 4, going undefeated in the regular season, putting up a fight in one of the greatest games of all time in high school football they’ve been a truly special squad.