After not facing conference rival Connersville in 2020, the Franklin County Wildcats bounced on the chance to do so last Friday, decimating the Spartans at CHS by a 74-7 final.

Having to sit through long lightning storm delays, the Cats took full advantage of the situation when on the field. By halftime, the score was 60-7. In the second half, with a running clock per the IHSAA’s 35-point rule, head coach Wes Gillman was able to utilize many of his reserves and get rest for his starters as the team earned the loot in the annual Water Keg game.

“In a game like that, you’re not necessarily competing against the other team, you’re challenging your own kids to execute everything to perfection,” said the coach. “Were there missed assignments, missteps, mistakes … yes. Things like that which didn’t affect the outcome of this game at all but could in the future. We still have a lot of things to work on.”

To Gillman’s knowledge, the points were school records for points in a game and a half, as well as margin of victory (67 pts.).

“Confidence and our young players understanding they belong on a varsity field,” were Gillman’s main takeaways for his squad in the one-sided contest.

The Spartans received to start the game and moved the ball very little before punting away. Starting at their own 32-yard-line, FC needed only about 30 seconds in six plays to go up 6-0. Seniors Jacob Schatzle and Bridger Bolos gained first downs, with the latter punching it in from 16 yards out on a first-down play. Spotted lightning then sent both teams off the field.

When play finally restarted, the Wildcats made it a two-score game on a touchdown run by junior quarterback Brady Morehead. The signal caller saved his left arm for future use as Franklin County did not throw one pass on Friday; freshman Quinn Gillman saw his first varsity action at QB after halftime, rushing for 71 yards and a score.

“If we’re going to compete at the end of the year, we have to be smart about everything … practice time, nutrition and keeping kids fresh,” said the FC coach. “A big part of this is our young core becoming varsity-caliber as the season progresses.

“That’s the great thing about a football season or any sports season,” he added. “By the middle and definitely by the end of the year, your freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore. We’re going to need that to be true more than ever this year.”

Bolos went up the middle for 40 yards as FC went up 22-0. Before the first quarter ended, Schatzle added a 52-yard jaunt to the left side. The 2-point conversion made it 30-0.

Bolos ripped off a 42-yard TD run before CHS finally got on the board. However, on the ensuing kickoff, senior Kristian Prows scooped up the ball at the FC 20 and evaded Spartans for an 80-yard kickoff return. FC wasn’t done yet, getting a 54-yard scamper by Bolos – his fourth TD to go with a pair of conversions – and Schatzle’s 24-yard dash to the end zone. Morehead added four 2-pt. conversions in the first half and rushed for 37 yards.

Gillman was careful to get his starters out after the break. “There's no question we're going to need our young guys to play significant, important minutes throughout the season,” he said. “We came into the year a very old, but very thin team. And injuries inevitably happen. You can't stop that. We're already dealing with our left guard out and it looks like there's a good chance our nose tackle and one of our defensive ends may be out this week.”

Bolos finished with 172 yards on just 7 carries, Schatzle 116 on just 5. Jadon Napier added a TD in the second half and 37 yards, Hunter Weartz a conversion and Branson Galyen 27 yards. Defensively, Andrew Merritt had 6 tackles, Gillman 4, Branson Galyen, Nate Noble and Hunter Geis 2 each and Chet Galyen and Spencer Bath one each.

Rushville, a team that last won Sept. 20, 2019, is FC’s home-opening opponent Friday, 7 p.m. Gillman hopes virtual schooling (thru Sept. 7) doesn’t play tricks on his players.

“I hope not,” he said. “Last year, we were shut down for two weeks and our first game back was against South Dearborn at home. I've never seen a team come out as flat as we did that week (a comeback victory).

“It's a concern any time kids break routine,” he continued. “That's what kids need. I guess we're fortunate that we get to keep playing, but not being in school isn't ideal. We'll do everything we can to make sure our kids are engaged with online learning. Getting out of and going to bed at a decent hour. A lot of that is going to have to fall on the kids and their parents.”

Wildcats 74, Spartans 7

Franklin Co. – 30   30   6   8 - 74
Connersville - 0   7   0   0 - 7

Total yards: FC 456 
Passing: FC 0 
Rushing: FC 456