Franklin QB fuels decisive defeat of Madison in season opener

Braden Woods was destined to take a turn as an outstanding Franklin quarterback. And that was long before he took over for injured Braden White way back in Week 3 of the 2017 season.

Woods, the son of Wildcats assistant and position coach Steve Woods, started his Franklin football career as a ball boy and worked his way up into the starting lineup.

“It’s awesome,” he said after masterfully directing a 42-6 thumping of host Madison in a Week 1 high school football opener before a capacity crowd on Friday night. “I was born walking on the football field. I looked up to a lot of quarterbacks growing up and it’s pretty special to now be one.”

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Woods, a three-year starter and a lefty, directed more than 500 yards of total offense in the Southwestern Buckeye League crossover matchup. Another former Franklin standout QB, Luke Kennard of the Detroit Pistons, witnessed the offensive fireworks and had to be impressed.

Woods had touchdown passes to Cyre Williams that covered 70 yards and Bret Dalton (34). Woods also ran 12 yards for another score. In all, he rushed and passed for nearly 200 yards each.

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“He is so smart,” gushed Franklin coach Brad Childers. “He called several plays for us. He’s the most intelligent football player I’ve ever been around in my life. He amazingly smart and has a lot of football left ahead of him. Somebody said (Friday) he’s going to be an unbelievable football coach. He just knows the game. His football IQ is second to none.”

It was the sixth straight win for Franklin (1-0) over the last two seasons. Madison (0-1) was limited to quarterback Quincy Brown’s five-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to pull the Mohawks within 14-6. Franklin answered with a 28-0 game-ending run.

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Its long-strike offense clicking, five of Franklin’s six touchdowns covered 34 or more yards.

It also was the debut of Madison head coach Ricky Davis. He was promoted to succeed Steve Poff, who remains on the Mohawks staff as an assistant.

Madison, 12-1 last season, graduated 18 starters from that team, which was eliminated by Wheelersburg in a Division V regional final. Madison also lost to Wheelersburg in a D-V state semifinal in 2017.

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This year Madison lost designated two-way starters Jake Phelps and Gabe Higgs to season-ending knee injuries. Phelps accounted for 865 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and Higgs 302 yards and four scores. Both were ticketed for backfield and defensive back duty.

“It wasn’t exactly the outcome we wanted, but we were limited,” said Davis, among the area’s youngest head coaches at 25 years old and who was raised in the school district but attended Cincinnati Moeller and Fenwick.

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“They were really well coached and a really good football team. They came out ready to play. I give them good fortune going forward. I hope they do really well.”

Franklin’s Gage Johnson scored on runs of 46 and 40 yards. Franklin freshman Brodey Whaley also dashed 54 yards around end to complete scoring in the final 75 seconds.

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Madison hadn’t lost in the regular season since Week 3 to visiting Valley View in 2017. The Mohawks responded by mounting a 10-game win streak that propelled them to that state semifinal.

This time it’s Franklin, loaded with experience and its win streak, that’s looking for a deep D-III playoff season.

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“We’ve grown as a class,” Woods said. “Year after year we keep getting closer and mesh really well. After last year, we had that momentum going. Going into the offseason, we knew this was going to be a special (season).”

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