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Dreyden Payne holds the ball high after catching his TD pass from Cole Buckley. Lakeview defenders wonder what happened (Photos by Richard Sayer)

Franklin: Looking back, looking ahead

Play of the Year! Century?

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Looking Back

Franklin finished with a 4-6 record and its 17th straight losing season, but ended a 20-game losing streak when it beat Warren, 35-0, on Sept. 29.

Still there were bright spots, most notably by a couple of seniors in Nathan Pfenningwerth and Cole Buckley.

Pfennigwerth was the premiere kicker in the record and one of the best in District 10., and was named All-Region for three straight years. His 41.1 yards punting average and his 32 of 35 touchbacks have caught many an eye of college scouts. So did his seven career field goals (longest 45 yards), which helped add up to 65 points, third best in Franklin history.

Buckley has played three different positions on offense during his four-year career – running back, quarterback and mostly notable wide receiver, where he ranks among the all-time greats in FHS annals with more than 1,500 yards. But when junior Jason Carey went down with a season-ending injury, coach Matt Turk decided to move Buckley back to quarterback, where he had previously played sparingly. All he did there was make first team all-Region, making him a two-time first team pick.

Showing off a big arm and dazzling scrambling ability, Buckley led the Knights to four wins in their last five games and some interesting stats to finish his career – 3,241 yards passing, running and receiving. What’s more, with three INTs in 2023, Buckley was no slouch in the secondary either.

Turk was excited at the start of his fourth season as coach to have 15 seniors on his roster, and made came through by season’s end, including Dreyden Payne, who picked off five passes – returning one for a near school record 102 yards – and replacing Buckley at wide receiver when Buckley returned to quarterback.

Alex “Big Al” Wible, a 250-pounder and another All-Region performer,, played tight end and was feared as a running back. When junior Toby Sanchez went down after running for 105 yards in the opener, Bryson Watson took his place and ran for 559 yards on the season.

Gabe Wright was solid at linebacker and Turk was promoting offensive tackle Landon Perry for the all-region team --which he did as a on both lines.

Just about every senior contributed: Caiden Beatty, Chase Garin, Darrius Graham, Landon Eagan, Riley Toledo, Trystin Boocks, Kaiden Hughes and Dallas Ross.

Wright, Graham and Boocks were also named to the All-Region squad.

Looking Ahead

Carey and Sanchez presumably will return and two more juniors, Jeremy Cunningham and Sam Wimer will probably anchor the offensive line in 2024. One of the standout freshmen Franklin has, Kaden Kiselka (5-8, 240), started the second half of the season at center and nose tackle.

 

Three more linemen, junior Avery Shelter (6-0, 230), sophomore Jacob Riddle (6-2, 280) and freshman Aaron Moore (6-3, 290), look good on paper.

Carey threw for 491 yards before his injury and has 642 yards passing in his career. Another junior, 6-3 Landon Lynch, was pushing Carey at quarterback when practice began in the fall.

But the pride and joy at Franklin is the freshman class, which includes Landon Knight, Freddie Blackhurst and Caden Mincer. All saw limited action in 2023, but all showed promise.

So...a decent nucleus is there for 2024.

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Cole Buckley gives an attaboy pat to Bryson Watson as senior lineman Riley Toledo trots off the field with them.

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