High School Football: Franklin rallies for big road win at Valley View

Franklin players celebrate a victory at Valley View on Friday night. Nick Graham/STAFF

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Franklin players celebrate a victory at Valley View on Friday night. Nick Graham/STAFF

When asked which of his plays ranked No. 1 Friday, Dylan Dirks didn’t single one out.

“They all feel great,” the Franklin senior safety and defensive back said. “As long as they contribute to the win.”

They did.

Riding a blocked punt, interception and touchdown reception from Dirks, Franklin rallied to beat host Valley View 23-20 in a key Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division game at Barker Field.

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The victory was Franklin’s fifth in seven trips to Germantown since joining the SWBL in 2006 and gave the Wildcats (6-1, 3-0) an inside track on claiming the program’s fifth divisional title. Valley View falls to 4-2, 2-2.

Brookville, which hosts Bellbrook (5-2) next week, is also 3-0 in the SWBL Southwestern Division. The Blue Devils (6-1) travel to Franklin in Week 9. They visit Valley View in the season finale.

Franklin had plenty of heroes against the Spartans. Dirks led the list.

“He showed up in all three phases,” Franklin head coach Brad Childers said. “He’s really turned the corner for us.”

A transfer from Miamisburg, Dirks had to sit out five games last year due to the OHSAA’s new transfer rule. Two weeks ago he made his then-signature play to-date with the Wildcats game-winning touchdown catch in an overtime defeat of Bellbrook. Friday he capped the night by stopping Valley View’s Troy Coulter 2 yards shy of a first down on the Spartans 17-yard line forcing a turnover on downs with 1:42 left. Dirks’ blocked punt led to a Gage Johnson four-yard second quarter touchdown run.

“The culture here (at Franklin) is amazing,” Dirks said. “I came in here and fell in love with the team immediately.”

There’s a lot to like.

Senior quarterback Braden Woods shined again in rallying the Wildcats. Down 20-16 with 6:12 left, Franklin marched 69 yards in eight plays and capped the drive with Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown run. Three straight completions of 10-plus yards, including two to junior Cyre Williams, were pivotal.

“(Woods’) football IQ is the highest of any player I’ve ever coached,” Childers said. “I thought Ryan Montgomery’s was, until now. They are two very special players.”

Said Valley View head coach Bob Skidmore: “It’s difficult when you play a good team and give them that much time. They had time to make something happen.”

Valley View, displaying an effective run game led by hammers Liam Musgrove, Lucas Lynch and Cade Cradlebaugh, took a 20-16 fourth quarter lead on Lynch’s second touchdown run. Musgrove scored on a first-quarter run.

“(Running the ball) has been our signature forever,” Skidmore said. “We decided after last week (loss at Bellbrook), we were going to come out and run it.”

Said Dirks: “We weren’t really expecting that, but I think we adjusted well. We knew it was going to be a battle.”

According to playoff projection site fantastic50.net, Franklin has a 99% chance of making the Division III, Region 12 playoffs and is a double-digit favorite in its remaining three games.

Valley View remains alive for a berth in Division IV, Region 16. A crucial SWBL crossover game loaded with playoff points looms next week at Milton-Union (6-1).

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