Franklin High School football coach Brad Childers knows how things look from the outside.
The Wildcats have enough walking wounded for Childers to be confused for Sherman T. Potter of M*A*S*H 4077.
“I know some people look at things and wonder how in the world we are going to get in with the players we lost,” Childers said of the Division III, Region 12 playoffs looming next week.
The Wildcats were among the favorites in the region at the beginning of the year.
Then starting quarterback Braden White went down. And star running back Ryan Montgomery. And …
“This has certainly been a learning year for the players and the coaches,” Childers said.
Yet the Wildcats enter Fox45’s Thursday Night Lights home showdown with Brookville at 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division.
More importantly, the Wildcats have clinched a playoff spot and will make their 11th postseason appearance next Friday.
“After all the adversity, the guys have come together to be great teammates,” said Childers, whose squad took a 35-22 loss at Oakwood last week. “They really wanted to put another year on the playoff banner (that hangs in the gym), and I think that says something about the kids and that they feel we have a tradition here that is worth keeping.”
Brookville enters needing a win and a little help to advance in Division V, Region 20.
The Blue Devils are coming off a 49-28 loss at Valley View to fall to 6-3, 3-2. Brookville’s ground-oriented attack is led by Bailey Wallen, who has 1,885 yards and 26 touchdowns on 207 carries.
“They come off the ball and stay low,” Childers said. “We have been working on staying low so we can keep our pads under their pads.”
For Franklin, Braden Woods has stepped in for White and tossed 10 scores while being picked off just once on 143 attempts. Woods is 89 of 143 for 1,124 yards.
“We knew he’d be good, but we didn’t expect him to be so good so soon,” Childers said. “We are getting a lot of these kids experience that we weren’t planning on getting.”
While taking care of the football and doing what they do remain the keys, Childers knows there is one other thing the Wildcats must do if they want to be 8-2.
“We have to win the line of scrimmage,” Childers said. “if we do that, we win the game. If we don’t do that, then we are going to have a hard time winning.”
Between the lines has been the easy part for Childers this year.
He has known most of the players on the roster since the first time they pulled on the equipment for the Wee Wildcats.
“People from the outside see it and talk about how we lost another player,” Childers said. “On the inside, it’s emotional to look at these kids who just want to go out and play and can’t. That breaks my heart.”