In 2009, Kensoha Bradford beat Franklin, giving the Sabers a lone conference loss and the Red Devils the conference title.
In 2010, Franklin beat Bradford, giving the Red Devils a lone conference loss and the Sabers the conference title.
On Friday night, Bradford beat Franklin, 25-0, giving the Sabers (2-1, 0-1) a lone conference loss and the Red Devils (3-0, 1-0) an early lead in the race for the Southeast conference. Such has been the rivalry between the Southeast Conference powerhouses.
Senior quarterback Zach Swisher completed just two passes but he made those connections count for 106 yards and two touchdowns. With just 26 seconds left in the first half, Swisher found junior Danny Lira for a 74-yard touchdown to give the Red Devils a 19-0 lead at the half. On the next Bradford drive, with 9:04 left in the third quarter, Swisher hit senior John Myers on a 32-yard touchdown grab for the final score of the game.
The initial touchdown pass came after Franklin was held from the end zone despite having first and goal from the three yard line, eventually turning it over on downs. Sabers head coach Louis Brown saw that sequence as a key to the game.
"That was huge and one of those things where we had a guy out of position," Brown said. "A guy that was playing both ways and we have a few more guys than we are used to playing both ways.
"The kid made a nice play and a nice throw."
Despite the big Red Devils scoring plays, which included a 35-yard touchdown run by senior Dewey Warner and a 61-yard touchdown punt return by senior Jerry Nash, it was the Bradford defense that set the tone.
Franklin managed only one first down in the first quarter and had a drive cut short by an interception. Even the best efforts from junior quarterback Zach Eder and his 22 pass attempts were not enough to solve the Bradford defense.
The loss is the first home loss for Franklin since falling to Bradford in October of 2009 and the first time the Sabers have been shutout since suffering a 13-0 loss to Oak Creek in September of 2007.
"Any time they shut us out that's pretty good," Brown said. "We knew their defense was pretty tough and we saw that on film.
"They pretty much played lock down man, we had trouble getting open and they came after us."
Kenosha Bradford, playing without star running back senior Vonte Jackson for the rest of the season, produced a third leading runner in three games. It was Warner leading the way Friday night with 117 yards and a touchdown on only eight carries. Last week’s leading rusher for Bradford, Henry Cabrera, finished the night with 71 yards on ten carries.
Senior Quanzell Murphy also contributed on the ground for the Red Devils with nine carries for 87 yards. Murphy took four consecutive direct snaps on the Kenosha Bradford opening drive, setting up the eventual Warner score.
Sharing the load seemed to be a game plan that Red Devils head coach Jed Kennedy had in mind from the beginning.
“I think people start counting us out because we lose a couple of our big dogs,” Kennedy said. “We aren't a program built on one kid or one coach.
“We call it the ‘We’ factor at Bradford, it's not about me, it's about ‘We’ and if we keep fighting for each other we'll have a chance to have a pretty good year.”
For the sixth consecutive year in this series the visiting team has claimed victory, and the fact that each team has spent time at the top of the conference that past few seasons wasn’t lost on Kennedy.
“We better get the schedule switched to play up here next year,” Kennedy joked. “We've had great games.
“If you think about the conference the last five years the two main stays at the top have been us and Franklin, so we knew that this game is always going to mean something in the conference standings at the end of the year.”
Bradford will now host Racine Case next while Franklin travels to Oak Creek for yet another tough Southeast conference battle. Even with the loss to Bradford, Brown feels his team has an opportunity to move forward.
“Give them credit tonight,” Brown said. “Hopefully we'll get it figured out and we'll make the playoffs to get another shot.
“That’s what we’re hoping."
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