Franklin finally had chance to catch its breath
But showdown with undefeated Muskego awaits them
Franklin - Everything has been such a struggle for the Franklin football team this fall.
They were 3-1 heading into its game against winless Racine Horlick last Friday night, but nothing has been easy for the Sabers.
So with close encounters against one challenging opponent after another to start the season, it has resulted in Franklin's backups staying off the field.
These reserves take the brunt of the starters' shots in practice week-after-week, day-after-day.
Against Horlick, though, these players were finally rewarded for their efforts with playing time.
And they made the most of it and played a factor in Franklin's 41-21 triumph over the Rebels.
"The reserves finally got a chance to play," said Franklin coach Louis Brown, who saw his first-team offense pile up 41 first half points. "We've got such a young team and a lot of guys wanted to play, but they haven't had a chance until now. A lot of young kids, including a freshman, got in that second half."
The win improved the Sabers to 2-1 in Southeast play and 4-1 overall and will face a critical test when they head over to Muskego on Friday night for a showdown between two teams with conference championship aspirations.
The 5-0 Warriors are a physically imposing, ground-oriented unit that wears down opponents.
Brown knows this will be a pivotal game if the Sabers want to remain in the Southeast hunt.
"They've got their whole offensive line back, we're going to seriously have our hands full," he said. "I had them winning conference in the preseason, but we'll look to have a great week of practice and then try to grow up quick."
That's what sophomore quarterback Sean McGuire did last Friday as in just one half of action, he hit 12 of 14 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns as the Sabers' rolled.
He first ran in from two yards out for a touchdown and then hit Nick Plath for 55 yards and a score. After Ben Miller dashed in from two yards out, McGuire was back at it with a 46-yard TD strike to Shaun Quirk (four catches for 141 yards), a 10-yard pitch-and-catch to Chad Walton and a 63-yard bomb to Quirk again.
"And there was one of his passes that even went through the hands of a receiver, so he should have been 13 of 14," said Brown. "The offense has been my worry this year (because of heavy graduation losses) and I thought we could play fairly tight, sound defense but with only four seniors on offense (all on the line), I just didn't know what was going to happen.
"I wasn't happy with the first half of the Oak Creek game (Sept. 9, three interceptions) and I called out that offensive line a little bit and ever since then, they and the offense have shown a lot of improvement."
Franklin scored all 26 of its points in the second half in rallying for the win against Oak Creek.
"And Sean has started figuring things out. He's a big, strong kid with a nice arm. Not too many quarterbacks on any level are going to have the kind of half he did (against Horlick)."
Franklin finished with 500 total yards of offense in the game. The offensive line consists of seniors Levon Myers, Craig Christian, Danny Schlemm, and Brad Schwarzkopf and junior T. J. Bartels
Brown wasn't thrilled that his reserve defense gave up close to 300 yards in the second half but noted that the first-line defenders gave up only about 30 in the first half.
Brown said the experience factor in the second half will pay dividends down the road.
"We don't have a ton of depth," he said, "and we had a few good kids missing (because of injury). This (playing time) will be very valuable to us, because a lot of those kids just don't have a lot of Friday night (varsity) experience."
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