St. Francis can't slow ICCP running game

  • IC Catholic Prep's Kyle Franklin throws off St. Francis' Clay Gorski with a stiff arm while Ben Radel wraps him up Friday in Elmhurst.

      IC Catholic Prep's Kyle Franklin throws off St. Francis' Clay Gorski with a stiff arm while Ben Radel wraps him up Friday in Elmhurst. John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Scott Schmid
Daily Herald Correspondent

Meeting on the field for the first time since 2011, IC Catholic Prep and St. Francis had a little extra on the line Friday night in Elmhurst.

But the host Knights quickly took away most of the intrigue in the Metro Suburban Blue battle for first place, posting three early scores on their way to a 54-20 victory.

ICCP improved to 8-0 on the fall, running its overall winning streak to 20 contests, while clinching at least a share of the league title, the program's fourth in a row. St. Francis fell to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the MSC.

"They are just an amazing team," said St. Francis coach Bob McMillen, a graduate of ICCP. "They are well-coached and they have phenomenal athletes."

One of those athletes is sophomore running back Kyle Franklin, who rushed for 278 yards and 4 touchdowns and went over the 1,000-yard plateau for the season in the process.

He scored on runs of 3, 5 and 7 yards as the Knights built a 34-7 lead by halftime. Franklin brought on the running clock with a 69-yard scamper less than five minutes into the third quarter.

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"The offensive line was great," Franklin said. "I trust them with everything. It's a brotherhood and we work hard in practice to build that unity.

"Reaching 1,000 yards as a sophomore is amazing. I really have thank my family and my teammates for pushing me to work hard every day."

The defense also got into the act, forcing three turnovers in the first half and five overall. Included in that was a 40-yard interception return for a score by Khali Saunders, who earlier hauled in a 46-yard TD from brother Khalil to open the scoring less than two minutes in.

"Our defense is ruthless and versatile," said ICCP senior Michael Johnson, who had 2 sacks and also forced a fumble, "and dominant on top of that. It starts with our D-line, they are always causing havoc with the run game and pressure in the pass game. And after that it's the linebackers and the defensive backs. They are always doing their jobs and that makes it easier on everyone."

Khalil Saunders added a 43-yard touchdown run while fellow QB Tommy Ryan found paydirt from 1-yard out.

The Spartans first scored on a 9-yard pass from Tommy Rittenhouse to Joseph Lang. Then late in the fourth, the visitors cashed in twice more, on a 33-yard run by backup quarterback Mike Baffa and a 35-yard pass from Baffa to Ryan Siurek.

"We started up 8-0 really quick and that gave us energy," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "We knew they were a talented team with a great coaching staff. Looking on film, that was one of the best teams we've seen. That's a really good football team, they are a 5A playoff team."

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