Elk Grove 35, Del Oro 32
The Herd will take on undefeated Folsom next weekend for the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division II championship. Read the game story here.
Granite Bay 37, Franklin 7
The Franklin High School football team had 2,480 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns injured and on the bench Friday night. The top-seeded Wildcats came into their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semi-final game against Granite Bay with running backs Christian Fonbeuna, Kyran Harris and Steven Rogers all hobbled with various injuries suffered the previous week in their big quarterfinal win over Lincoln of Stockton.
All were in uniform, willing to give it a go, but they just couldn’t perform nearly as effective as the trio did in leading Franklin to a perfect 10-0 regular season and a couple impressive playoff wins.
On top of that, starting fullback/linebacker William Vi wasn’t even at the game. He was at home in bed stricken with the flu.
“I don’t think we lose 37-7 if we had some of those kids on the field,” Franklin head coach Mike Johnson said. “Do we beat them full force? Probably not. Granite Bay’s really good. The best team we’ve played.”
The undermanned Franklin offense sputtered throughout much of the game Friday and were beaten, 37-7, by a Grizzlies team bent on making a return visit to the Division I championship game. Granite Bay, who beat Pleasant Grove last season, will face Burbank or Oak Ridge Saturday night at Hornet Stadium looking to make it two Section banners in a row.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Granite Bay (10-3) 17 13 0 7 37
Franklin (12-1) 0 7 0 0 7
GB – Tony Ellison 43 yd. run (Colin Brown kick) 8:55
GB – John Cooley 10 yd. pass from Grant Caraway (Brown kick) 6:58
GB – Brown 18 yd. field goal 1:09
GB – Cooley 1 yd run (kick failed) 6:17
GB – Steven Graber 32 yd. pass from Caraway (Brown kick) 1:20
FR – Robert Sanders 7 yd. pass from Trent Spallas (Tyler Ramel kick) :16
GB – Taft Partridge 18 yd. run (Brown kick) :40
Johnson did start Rogers and Fonbuena in the backfield but on their first offensive play Rogers fumbled at his own 12 yard line. Fonbuena also re-injured his ankle on that play and was finished the rest of the night.
“That was our (only running back) all week and we lost him on the first play,” Johnson said. “It is what it is. That’s football. We told our kids to win a Section title you’ve got to be really good, but it takes a little luck.”
But, luck didn’t show up that night after Thanksgiving for Franklin. The Wildcats’ best football season-ever ended with a 12-1 record.
“Luck wasn’t on our side, there was just too much to overcome,” Johnson summed up. “Offensively, I knew we didn’t have the firepower to keep up.”
Granite Bay scored on their opening drive – on fly back Steve Ellison’s 43-yard run – then tacked on seven more points three plays after recovering the Rogers’ fumble. Quarterback Grant Caraway passed to John Cooley on a ten-yard pass. Franklin found itself down 14-0 and had touched the football just once.
The Grizzlies, then in a machine-like fashion, took advantage of great field possession after a quick three-and-out and a short punt by Franklin to kick a 18-yard field goal and led 17-0 after one quarter.
Granite Bay poured in on in the second period and put together a 15-play scoring drive. They grabbed a 23-0 lead with four-and-a-half minutes left in the first half. At that point the Grizzlies had 204 yards total offense to only 20 for Franklin.
Franklin, on its next possession, boldly went for it on fourth-down- and-one at their own 41 yardline and was stopped. Carraway made them pay for the risky move by hooking up with tight end Steven Graber on 32-yard touchdown pass play. After the extra point kick the Grizzlies led, 30-0, with 1:20 left before intermission.
Franklin quarterback Trent Spallas finally got things going and drove his team downfield 81 yards in seven plays and it took only one minute and four seconds. Spallas found Robert Sanders on the right side of the end zone from seven yards out and the teams went into halftime with Granite Bay leading, 30-7.
Franklin desperately tried to get back in the game in the second half but couldn’t put together any consistent drive. The Wildcats gave up the ball on downs twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth quarter.
“This time of year you’ve got to run the ball and stop the run and I thought we did both very effectively,” Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper said. “We probably stopped the run better than we ran the ball tonight.”
The Grizzlies were led by running backs Tony Ellison (13 carries, 93 yards, 1 TD) and Taft Partridge (14 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD). Caraway was 10-of-16 passing, 125 yards and two TD’s.
There were lots of teary eyes on the faces of the Franklin players after the game, knowing their season had come to a screeching halt one game short of the Section championship.
“You can see upset the kids are,” Johnson said. “To go 12-0 at one point, I don’t care what anyone says, it’s tough to do. There’s a lot of prep, there’s a lot of time, a lot of grinding it out. And, we didn’t play that weak of a schedule, either.”
But, Johnson tacked on a bit of a shot at Section officials for where his Wildcats were placed in the Division I brackets for the playoffs.
“I scratch my head a bit at why the number one seed (Franklin) had to play Nevada Union one and Lincoln of Stockton, two,” he said. “That’s a head-scratcher for me.”
Johnson defended his decision to try to have the trio of running backs suited up for Friday’s game.
“They’re seniors, what do you do?” he asked. “Rogers was a shell of himself but I had to go with him because everyone else was hurt. He said, ‘Coach, at least I can stand up.’ Kyran I let him go twice, but I actually felt bad for him because he was getting killed. But, they didn’t practice one down all week.”
Rogers had two carries for zero yards. Harris ran the ball twice for a minus-four yards.
“You try to teach you kids how to deal with adversity and don’t quit, which they didn’t,” Johnson added.
Trevon Lampley, normally a slot back, led Franklin with 46 yards on ten carries. For the game, the Wildcats had only 60 yards on the ground on 28 attempts.
Spallas had an off night passing. He completed 13 of 32 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once.
Granite Bay lost three non-conference games earlier this year – to Oaks Christian, Westlake and Pittsburgh – but has yet to lose to any Sac-Joaquin Section team this season.
“We’re not calling any special plays. We’re running the same plays we’ve run for 15, 16 years,” Cooper said. “Grant (Caraway) has been the difference this year. Hats off to him. He’s had a (great completion percentage). He’s been phenomenal.”
The Grizzlies started the year 1-3 and then won the Sierra Foothill League championship winning all league games.
“We went back to basics,” Cooper said. “We’re playing better, we’re pursueing better. We’re telling them, ‘Get off better. Get under your opponents’ pads and get three-and-a-half, four yards. You can win doing this.’”