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by Mike Finnerty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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There were a lot of story lines heading into Friday night's match up between the No. 2 Franklin Wildcats and the No. 1 Elk Grove Thundering Herd.
It was a game that featured No. 1 versus No. 2 in the rankings, but it was also an all-Elk Grove battle of old versus new.
Franklin, a school built in 2002 and still creating it's football identity was taking on Elk Grove, a school that's been around since 1893, but rich in football tradition for over the past 30 years, including five section championships.
Behind a suffocating defense, plus a pair of timely touchdown runs from Trevon Lampley and Kyran Harris, the Wildcats prevailed 17-7 over the host Thundering Herd, taking over sole possession of first place in the Delta Valley Conference.
"We put up a hard fight between them and us, but it's a team a effort," said Harris. "We push each other to make each other better at our school"
The win not only makes Franklin (8-0, 3-0) the area's new No. 1 and drops Elk Grove (7-1, 2-1) to what will likely be No.3, but it adds to the foundation of Franklin's rising program.
"We played a compete game," said Franklin head coach Mike Johnson. "I'm so impressed with our kids, coming here, packed house, there are a lot of expectations of us right now - this is a signature win for our program."
Elk Grove's tough, run-oriented offense was held to just 130 yards, and it was also the Herd's lowest point total for a single game this season, a team that scores an average 39 points per game.
Thundering Herd starting quarterback Tommy Arnold was out for the game because of disciplinary actions by the team, but Johnson still felt all along the game would be a defensive battle.
"I was looking a lot of predictions," said Johnson. "Most of the predictions were 35-28, and the whole time I was shaking my head because I knew how good we were defensively. I knew how good they were defensively, and I kind of had a feeling it was going to look more like this."
Franklin went up 10-0 on a Tyler Ramel 19-yard field goal with 8:28 left in the second quarter, and that scored held until halftime.
Elk Grove was tough on defense as well, which allowed the Herd to cut the lead to 10-7 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Wadus Parker in the third quarter.
There's no question that Franklin has made it through the toughest part of it's league schedule with wins over Elk Grove and Grant, but the Wildcats will need to stay focused in it's final two games against Monterey Trail (1-2) and Laguna Creek (0-3).
"Our kids are grounded, and it's going to be a little new next week because people will start talking about us, and not a lot of people have, we've been No. 2 for a long time," said Johnson. "It will be interesting to see how we handle being No. 1, but again, we're in a routine. We respect everybody that's out there and we can be beat by anybody if we don't prepare, so it's on to Laguna Creek."