Franklin, ICCP tackle Marengo
One of IC Catholic Prep's press box personnel probably said it best.
Tackling Knights sophomore running back Kyle Franklin is like trying to tackle a moving fire hydrant. Only with sprinter's speed and vision.
Despite Marengo coach Paul Forsythe's stated goal to stop the run entering Saturday's Class 4A quarterfinal in Elmhurst, Franklin ran the football 31 times for a personal-best 310 yards and 6 touchdowns. Franklin's touchdown runs of 14, 15, 4, 56, 16 and 19 yards blew open a close contest to give No. 1 seed IC Catholic a 49-27 win over No. 5 Marengo.
The Knights advanced to host next week's 4A semifinal against No. 3 seed Richmond-Burton, a 17-14 winner over No. 2 Coal City.
The last time Franklin ran for 6 touchdowns?
"Today," said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound ball of muscle, whose unofficial 310 yards rushing ranked second to Jordan Rowell's 311 against Mater Dei on Sept. 6, 2014, since Bill Krefft started coaching the Knights in 2012.
"I wasn't really going for a record, just doing my job, just running hard, following right behind my lineman (Michael Johnson, Declan Barney, Ryan Kenneally, David Vargas, Ricky Mysliwiec), watching those open holes," Franklin said.
Before IC Catholic (12-0) outscored the Indians 20-7 in the second half, Marengo (9-3) gave the Knights the test Krefft had anticipated since the IHSA success adjustment bumped the two-time defending Class 3A champions to 4A.
ICCP led 15-0 on Franklin's first touchdown and Khalil Saunders' 34-yard pass to Jacob Lytton. Marengo struck right back on Travis Knaak's 76-yard pass to running back Finn Schirmer and then a shocker, Willy Arriola's blocked punt recovered by Blake Heinberg in the Knights end zone for a Marengo touchdown.
Marengo pulled within 22-20 at 2:52 of the second quarter when after a 27-yard screen pass to Schirmer, Knaak delayed, then ran 3 yards for a touchdown.
Franklin's 4-yard touchdown run off right tackle Mysliwiec and Tom Sloan's kick gave ICCP a 29-20 halftime lead. A little too close for comfort.
"We knew we wanted to come out strong in the second half and put them away because they got the ball first. We wanted to set the tone for the rest of the game to go," said Knights linebacker Kevin Cooke.
Voila, ICCP's defense forced a quick three-and-out and the offense moved even quicker. Franklin's 56-yard touchdown run, the only score in the third quarter, seemed to slow all Marengo momentum. So too did Khalil Saunders' fourth-quarter interception.
Franklin scored twice more before Schirmer's 4-yard touchdown run with 5:31 to play. The 195-pound junior ran for 168 yards and caught 2 passes for 103 yards.
"They're a good team and their defense is what probably is the best part of them," Schirmer said. "They really can shut teams down."
Krefft credited Knights offensive coordinator Tony Navigato for putting the players into "good situations" and his players for running the inside zone read more crisply. He credited the defense for getting back to basics.
"The adjustment on defense," Krefft said, "was to go from being pretty and doing what our game plan was to playing our base defense and moving on or not."