Franklin County is young but hungry
The Franklin County Wildcats football team will look to rebound from a down year after going 3-7 a season ago, when a one-point loss to Indian Creek ended the Cats season. They will look to improve on three wins a season ago. The Cats won two EIAC matchups over Rushville and Greensburg, and they finished the regular season with a tough road game win over Beech Grove. The 2022 Cats were a young team, and a good core of that team returns for this season.
The Cats will be sporting a new turf field for the 2023 season. The field is in the processes of being renovated right now. Coach Wes Gillman is excited about the new field coming in. Gillman stated “We have played at least most of our games on turf, so it will be an advantage to be able to practice on a safer surface where the mood will be much improved, and we’ll be able to get a lot more things done. I just hope it gets completed by our first home game.” The field is in nearing the final stages and should be ready within a few weeks.
Franklin County’s offense lost their top two running backs to graduation, but they will return junior quarterback Quinn Gillman. Gillman was one of the top rushing quarterbacks in the EIAC last season, running for over 800 yards, and going over the 100-yard rushing mark in four games as a sophomore. Despite the run heavy offense Gillman also threw for 763 yards and seven touchdowns. He also picked up 40 tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Protecting Gillman will be ALL-EIAC lineman Ben Becker. Becker is a two-way player who also had six hurries and 1.5 sacks a season ago for FC’s defense. The Cats will return wideouts Blake Stephenson and Braylon Kruthaupt as the top targets for Gillman, both players saw time at wideout last season. Senior Jack Seals will also step in this season as a receiver for FC.
Coach Gillman had this say about his offense, “Running back is a big question mark for us right now. We have a few kids who we’re waiting to take that spot and separate themselves from the others, but right now it’s by committee. Senior Jared Moore, sophomores Wyatt Bowling, and Carter Dozier could all get reps. Gillman is going to have to rely on his feet quite a bit this year running the football from the quarterback position.” Gillman went on to say “Our three biggest losses from last year are without a doubt Bryce Hodapp, Peyton McCreary, and Brady Morehead. We’re going to have to rely on Becker, Breck Bohman, Jack Dirkhising, Seals, and a few first-year varsity players are going to have to step up and fill voids. In a lot of ways, we’re going to be young again this year. That’s good for the future but for this year we’re going to have to rely on some Sophomores to play big time minutes.”
The Wildcats defense will see Dirkhising take the reins at the middle linebacker spot along with Seals, and Stephenson at outside linebackers. Becker will man the line with Bohman, and Kruthaupt is back for his junior campaign with a year of experience as a cover corner. Gillman will also be patrolling the back field at safety. The number of returning players with experience on defense should help to keep opponents out of the endzone more than a season ago and lower the 26 points per game allowed. A 54-point blowout loss to State Champion East Central inflated that number.
The Cats will start the season with two road contests, Facing New Castle, and then Connersville in back-to-back weeks, before they host Rushville on Sept. 1 for their first home game. The regular season will end with the Cats hosting Beech Grove on October 13, when FC will look to make it three wins in a row against the Indianapolis school.