High school football: Franklin Wildcats preview

The following is a high school football preview. The preseason begins Thursday, Aug. 1. Most teams will play Week 1 games on Friday, Aug. 30.

High school: Franklin Wildcats, public.

Location: Franklin, Warren County.

Division/Region: D-III, Region 12; same as last season.

Affiliation: Southwestern Buckeye League, Southwestern Division.

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Head coach: Brad Childers, sixth season as the Wildcats' head coach (35-18 overall record).

Assistant coaches: Steve Woods, Landen Brown, Rick Thompson, Tom Parker, Frank Russell, Shawn Acrey, Mark Mullins, Kevin Allen, Zach Short and Matt Spurlock.

2018 record: 6-4, 5-1 SWBL Southwestern.

2018 highlights: Among the area's hottest teams in the second half of the regular season. Ended with a 5-0 run and outscored opponents 138-44. That included impressive defeats of Valley View (31-10) and Brookville (21-7).

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The issue was Franklin went 1-4 in the first half of the regular season. A 21-17 Week 5 setback at unbeaten Bellbrook would eventually knock Franklin out of playoff contention. Ahead 17-7 at halftime in that showdown, Bellbrook outscored Franklin 14-0 in the second half. That was Franklin’s only SWBL Southwestern Division loss.

Three of those losses were to playoff teams Madison (12-1), Edgewood (8-3) and Bellbrook (10-1). The fourth loss was at Xenia (7-3), which didn’t make the postseason but defeated mighty Trotwood-Madison in Week 9.

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Franklin answered with that great 5-0 season-ending run, but could do no better than No. 10 in the final computer rankings; only the top eight advance.

Returning seniors Braden Woods (QB) and Gage Johnson (RB) combined for 1,527 yards of total offense and Johnson scored 12 TDs. The defense allowed one TD or less in four games.

Key returners:

• Braden Woods, sr., QB returning 3-year starter; has passed for more than 2,300 yards.

• Gage Johnson, sr., RB; 761 yards rushing (5.6), 12 TDs.

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• Ryan Russell, sr., WR; 20-292 (29.2 ypc); 1 TD.

• Nick Back, sr., OT; 6-6, 330 pounds; receiving offers.

• Zach Johnson, sr., DB; led SWBL with 8 INTs.

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• Cyre Williams, jr., WR; transfer from Middletown who sat out most of last season.

What to know: Franklin last won a SWBL title and advanced to the playoffs in 2016. That great second half of the 2018 season should have provided offseason momentum.

Defensive coordinator Frankie Russell returns, but offensive coordinator Mike Schneider left to join his son Lance Schneider’s staff at Miamisburg.

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There are no schedule changes, only a flip of sites. That Week 5 game against visiting Bellbrook will be played on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Franklin.

Coachspeak: "This group is determined to bounce back and get to the top of our league again. We have several returning starters and this group of young men have worked extremely hard this summer to get ready to go." - Childers

Schedule, all at 7 p.m.

Week 1: Fri., Aug. 30, at Madison

Week 2: Fri., Sept. 6, Edgewood

Week 3: Fri., Sept. 13, Xenia

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Week 4: Fri., Sept. 20, at Monroe

Week 5: Thu., Sept. 26, Bellbrook

Week 6: Fri., Oct. 4, at Preble Shawnee

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Week 7: Fri., Oct. 11, at Valley View

Week 8: Fri., Oct. 18, Eaton

Week 9: Fri., Oct. 25, Brookville

Week 10: Fri., Nov. 1, at Oakwood

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