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What Was the Best Game You Ever Saw?

I was asked the above question a few months ago by a reporter. It took me a few moments to think of the answer but I had to name three games.

When I was a freshman at Arizona State in 1970 I drove with three friends to Tucson, about 110 miles, to see Mesa Westwood play the best team EVER in Arizona high school history, Tucson High School. Tucson won 39-34. Maybe I will write about that game someday but of course this blog, right now, is about Wisconsin high school football. Another great game was the 2015 D1 championship between Kimberly and Hartland Arrowhead. Kimberly won 49-42. That game will be a future story.

I briefly mentioned the third game in my book but there is so much more to say that I couldn't fit in. In 2006, Franklin played Brookfield Central in the D2 Championship Game. I saw more of Franklin's games that season than any other team in any other season. I had a personal interest in the team. My nephew, Eric Kossoris played for Franklin as an end and linebacker. I saw him play nine times out of the 17 games I attended that year. I was working for Max back then so I was seeing a lot of games each year.

Lee Severson, Brookfield’s star defensive back, kicked off with the ball going to Eric Kossoris on the 10 who returned to the 25. On first down Franklin’s Honorable Mention an All-State quarterback Rob Evans tossed an 11-yard pass to Geoff Stuhr. On the next play Evans dropped back and hit Kossoris for a D2 championship game record tying 65-yard touchdown. Brandon Helt kicked the extra point and Franklin was up 7-0 with 33-seconds gone in the game.

The two teams then traded possessions via interceptions when Brookfield started an 8-play/73-yard scoring drive with Drew Herma rushing from 20-yards out for the touchdown. Severson kicked the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with six minutes left in the first quarter.

Franklin went nowhere on the next possession when Evans was again intercepted by Severson and returned eight yards. With the ball on the Franklin 22. It took Brookfield four plays to score again as Herma again took it over the goal. Severson again kicked the extra point as Brookfield took the lead 14-7. Ryan Lawrence returned the kickoff to the Franklin 21 where they started a 10-play/79-yard drive highlighted by several key Evans passes. The team drove to the one-yard line where Evans took it over for the score. Helt’s kick was good and the game was tied 14-14. The game was moving quickly and there was a big buzz in the crowd.

Less than a minute into the second quarter, first year Franklin coach, Jesse Miller, called for an onside kick and Franklin recovered on the Brookfield 43. The Sabers made a short drive and had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Helt to go up by 3. Severson returned the ensuing kickoff 29-yards to the Brookfield 34. Eight plays later, on a fourth and four play, Brookfield quarterback Mike Bogard was sacked by Kossoris and Franklin took over on the 45. Evans went to work quickly on the next play as he hit Lawrence with a perfect strike for 55-yards and a touchdown. The extra point was blocked but Franklin held the lead 23-14 and it stayed that way as the first half ended.

Franklin kicked off to start the second half and the two teams traded possessions until Franklin started a nine-play/ 80-yard drive keyed by Rob Evans with 24-yard passes to Kossoris and the final 22-yards to Nate Soddy. Evans tried a two-point extra point run but was stopped short. Franklin tried again with an onside kick but this time Brookfield recovered. On a fourth and seven play, Brookfield gained four yards and Franklin took over. Evans took a breather and backup quarterback Jared Ciche came in with two minutes, one second left in the third quarter. Under pressure on first down Ciche's pass was intercepted and the ball was returned 12-yards for a touchdown and Lancers were now down 29-21 after Severson’s extra point kick.

Again after trading possessions several times, Brookfield tied things up with 6:16 left in the fourth quarter on two remarkable plays. On first down Mike Bogard hit tight end Rob Korslin who blew by two defenders, ran down the sidelines, in front of the Franklin crowd, toward the south endzone and scored 81-yards later. It was a new D2 record. Going for the two-point conversion Bogard rolled right and was about to be sacked by the Sabers Mike Norman. Spun around, with his back to the end zone, Bogard tossed the ball over his shoulder and Korslin picked the pass out of a crowd for the two-point conversion and the game was tied. You had to see this amazing turn of events. The toss and catch were simply wild to see. I, as well as the other Franklin fans and the team, were stunned. In the next six minutes Franklin would have the ball three times and Brookfield two times with both failing to score. The Lancers would miss on a 48-yard field goal attempt on their second possession. The game ended in regulation tied 29-29.

Franklin lost the coin toss and Brookfield chose to play defense. With the ball on the Lancers 10-yard line Evans threw an incomplete pass on first and goal. He ran on second down for three yards. With it being third and seven, Evans passed to Geoff Stuhr for the touchdown. Heldt kicked the extra point and Franklin was up 36-29. With the ball in their hands, Brookfield tried a pass on first and goal but it went incomplete. On the next play Herma was given the ball and the Franklin defensive backfield converged on him. Herma was hit hard by defensive back John Zaganczyk. As Herma fumbled, defensive back Joey Cook batted the ball away from him and defensive back D.J. Nogalski recovered for Franklin and the game was over. To say that the Saber fans exploded with loud cheering would be an understatement.

For the game Evans was 17 of 34 with 2 interceptions, 264 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 14 times for 115 yards and 1 score. The 379 total offensive yards were a championship record as were his four touchdown passes. Stuhr caught 6 passes for 57 yards and a score. Lawrence hauled in 4 balls for 65 yards and a touchdown. Nate Soddy caught 3 passes for 41 yards and one touchdown. Kossoris caught 2 passes and gained 89 yards and a touchdown as well as having 8 tackles plus a sack and a tackle for loss. Zaganczyk had 10 tackles and an interception while Cook totaled 9 stops and the forced fumble.

Franklin had a lot of stars and the All-Southeast Conference First Team was full of Sabers:

  • Rob Evans…quarterback…Honorable Mention All-State and Conference Player-of-the-Year

  • Jerad Buck…Offensive Line…Honorable Mention All-State

  • Eric Kossoris…Receiver and Linebacker (The only player to make the first team both ways

  • Jeff Comp…Offensive Line

  • Ryan Lawrence…Running Back

  • Geoff Stuhr…Receiver

  • Andy Cabrel…Defensive Line

  • Matt Pearson…Linebacker

  • D.J.Nogalski…Defensive Back

On the second team:

  • Andrew Maikke…Offensive Line

  • Ryan Smars…Defensive Line

  • Joey Cook…Defensive Back

This was a great team and there is more on them in my book!

Both Franklin and Brookfield played a terrific and exciting game. You had to be there to believe it.

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