Some would call it luck. Others would label it grit.
Nearly anyone associated with the Franklin-Simpson football program – whether it be the players, coaches, administrators, or fans – would say that the Wildcats are still playing this week because of grit, not luck.
Those Wildcats – the defending Class 4A state champions – nearly lost to Madisonville-North Hopkins last Friday in the Region 1 title game at Shadetree Stadium. They were held scoreless in the first half and trailed 10-0 at halftime, and it seemed that their season would be coming to an end earlier than expected.
That didn’t happen. Instead, Franklin-Simpson – a team full of grit – grinded out a 12-10, come-from-behind win to remain alive in the postseason.
“This one felt so special – especially being able to come back and win after being down 10 points at halftime,” Franklin-Simpson coach Doug Preston said following the win. “The kids fought for each other. There were a lot of tough moments in that game that required the kids to fight.”
That same squad returns to action Friday as it travels to Taylor County for the semifinals of the 2018 KHSAA Class 4A Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT, with the game being broadcast on WFKN 1220 AM in Franklin and network1sports.com.
Franklin-Simpson (12-1) – which has won 10 straight dating back to a 36-14 loss to South Warren on Aug. 31 – hits the road to Campbellsville for its first away game since Oct. 19. The Wildcats played their regular-season finale at home and hosted the past three weeks of the playoffs.
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Led by a dominant offensive unit, the Wildcats are averaging 42.6 points and 403.1 yards per game. Explosive running backs Tre Bass (1,803 yards, 28 touchdowns) and Carlos McKinney (1,517, 20) have combined for 3,320 yards and 48 touchdowns, while fellow back Tedric Partinger has rushed for 436 yards and six TDs.
Rounding out the offense, quarterback Luke Richardson has completed 33-of-61 passes for 635 yards and eight TDs with five interceptions.
Taylor County, also 12-1 on the season, defeated Moore 22-17 last week in the quarterfinals. Quarterback Grant McQueary threw for 158 yards and a TD, while running backs Tre Goodin (63 yards, TD) and Wes Oliver (41, TD) combined for 104 yards and a pair of scores in the victory.
Through 13 games, Oliver has recorded 1,588 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, while Oliver has rushed for 1,128 yards and 14 TDs and Goodin has ran for 641 yards and 14 scores.
Friday’s meeting will mark the first between Franklin-Simpson and Taylor County dating back to a 40-34 Wildcats’ win in the playoffs on Nov. 6, 1998.
As for the winner of the tilt, it’ll advance to next Saturday’s Class 4A state championship for a match-up with the Johnson Central-Knox Center victor. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CT at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington.