Prep football: Franklin favored to repeat in SWBL Southwestern

Franklin’s Ryan Montgomery gets past Jackson Harris (57) of St. Marys Memorial during a Division III, Region 12 semifinal Nov. 12, 2016, at Wayne’s Heidkamp Stadium. The season came to an end for Montgomery’s Wildcats by a 55-31 score. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Franklin’s Ryan Montgomery gets past Jackson Harris (57) of St. Marys Memorial during a Division III, Region 12 semifinal Nov. 12, 2016, at Wayne’s Heidkamp Stadium. The season came to an end for Montgomery’s Wildcats by a 55-31 score. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The spotlight is on Franklin High School’s football team this season in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division, and that’s OK with the Wildcats.

Franklin earned the Southwestern championship last year and is favored to do it again in 2017.

“We wouldn’t want it any other way,” Wildcats coach Brad Childers said of his squad being voted No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll. “We’re excited about being predicted No. 1, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go do it. This is just another reason to get dressed up tomorrow and go out and get better on the practice field.”

Valley View was second in the poll, followed (in order) by Brookville, Bellbrook, Oakwood, Eaton and Monroe.

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Senior halfback Ryan Montgomery and senior quarterback Braden White head a high-powered offense for Franklin, which averaged 44 points per game while going 11-1 last year.

Childers said the Wildcats looked strong last Saturday in a scrimmage against Minster, Northmont and New Richmond.

“I really felt like the defense picked up their play,” said Childers, who will take Franklin to Fenwick for its last scrimmage Friday at 7 p.m. “We were very physical and showed a lot of speed on defense.”

Monroe went 3-7 in 2016 and didn’t get much love in this year’s voting. When Hornets coach Bill Leach was informed that his team was picked to finish last, he chuckled.

“I think it’s great for us,” Leach said. “I’m loving it because I think it’s going to be a great tool for us to use. Our kids take a lot of pride in what they’re doing, we’ve had a really good preseason, and I think we’re going to surprise some people.

“I like being the underdog. This will give us exactly what we need if we want to walk in with a chip on our shoulder.”

Franklin, Valley View, Oakwood and Eaton all received first-place votes.

“I’m old school with Franklin. They won the league and wear the crown until somebody takes it from them,” Leach said. “After that, I think it’s a tossup. I think just about everybody’s got their top running back returning. It may be one of those years where we may be knocking each other off below Franklin and they just cruise on through.”

No team has repeated since Franklin won titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Bellbrook was the Southwestern champion in 2014 and Brookville took the top spot in 2015.

The last title for Valley View, which was a strong second in the coaches poll, came in 2005.


SWBL Southwestern: The Vote

Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division football poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):

1. Franklin (4) 46

2. Valley View (1) 41

3. Brookville 29

4. Bellbrook 26

5. Oakwood (1) 25

6. Eaton (1) 15

7. Monroe 14

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