Like many of his untested and underclass teammates, Northmont running back Michael Franklin was anxious to take his best shot at this high school football season.
“It’s unreal. It really is,” said the Thunderbolts junior, who came up big again in a 21-6 regular season-ending Week 10 win at Miamisburg this past Friday night. “To go from nothing to something is great. I played one game last year. It’s zero to one hundred.”
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Scoreless at halftime, Franklin ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns as Northmont clinched its second straight outright Greater Western Ohio Conference National West title. It was Northmont’s (9-1, 3-0) fifth consecutive win, which also secured a Division I, Region 3 first-round home game.
Northmont improved to No. 2 in the region, and likely will host Hilliard Darby (8-2) in the first round next Friday.
Northmont unofficially was one of four GWOC teams to qualify for the D-I, Region 3 playoffs. That doesn’t include Miamisburg (7-3, 1-2), which lost two of its last three regular-season games. Ironically, Miamisburg likely will finish No. 9 in the region with Wayne No. 8. Miamisburg defeated Wayne in the regular season.
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Only the top eight teams in each region advance to the postseason. The Ohio High School Athletic Association will announce first-round pairings on Sunday.
Other GWOC teams advancing in D-I, Region 3 were Springfield (8-2) and Fairmont (7-3), which probably will have a rematch of their Week 10 game that Fairmont won, 14-7.
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Northmont joined Troy (GWOC American North), Xenia (GWOC American South) and co-champs Springfield and Wayne (GWOC National East) as the final divisional winners of the 20-team mega conference. All but Trotwood in the American Conference will split away next season to form a revised 10-team Miami Valley League.
“I told the boys all week, I don’t look ahead at (the playoffs),” Northmont coach Tony Broering said. “I know who’s in our region. I’m happy for Northmont because we get to host. The people who came out (Friday) and have supported us all year, I’m very excited to give them that home game.”
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Trailing 6-0, Northmont tallied 21 unanswered second-half points to earn its second straight playoff appearance and 11th overall. Justin Golson raced 80 yards with a screen pass from Thunderbolts quarterback Miles Johnson to put Northmont up 7-6.
Franklin, who had a game-high 124 yards rushing, followed with scoring runs of 49 and 7 yards less than four minutes apart to dash the Vikings’ GWOC title and postseason hopes. Franklin ended the regular season with 953 yards rushing and 13 TDs. He set a program record with 280 yards rushing and scored four times in a Week 3 defeat of Tippecanoe.
Johnson completed 12 of 21 passes for 177 yards in a constant rain. He finished No. 1 in GWOC passing (2,214 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions).
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Zion Lewis scored on a 2-yard run for Miamisburg late in the third quarter to open the scoring. Northmont went ahead on its next offensive play following Golson’s catch and run.
“They’re a really good football team,” Miamisburg coach Steve Channell said. “They’re going to end up first, second or third in our region and our region is really loaded. We were so close for so much of our season to being really, really good. It just didn’t happen. If you play and coach long enough those things happen.”
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