The Johnstown-Monroe High School football team readied for its coach's leap, and he didn't disappoint.
After all Mike Carter has been through the past several months, a teeth-clenching 38-29 win over host Granville on Friday, Aug. 26, in the season opener for both teams was the least the Johnnies could provide.
Coming off a 2,000-yard season, Ross Franklin rushed for 327 yards and all six of Johnstown's touchdowns on 31 carries. His last score, a 16-yarder with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left, gave the Johnnies a bit of breathing room in a game they'd led 32-14 in the closing seconds of the first half but almost squandered against the slightly undermanned Blue Aces.
"I said coming over on the bus if I had the ball after we won, it was going to coach Carter and the staff for everything they've done," Franklin said of Carter, who was awarded the game ball. He was removed as Johnstown's athletics director this past summer but allowed to stay on as football coach.
"(The coaching staff has) stuck with us and we've stuck with them," Franklin said.
After a first half in which the Johnnies scored on all five possessions -- Franklin runs of 5, 46, 20, 34 and 1 yard they ended up having to stick together in the second half just to survive.
Granville quarterback Isaac Maurer, a sophomore who started in place of David Fraley, who was sidelined with strep throat, almost singlehandedly brought the Blue Aces back.
Zach Lilly's 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the first half ended gave Granville life and brought them within 32-21. Maurer, who earlier threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Joey Comisford late in the second quarter, then ran for a 34-yard score with 9:57 left to close the gap to 32-29, but the Blue Aces couldn't muster serious threats on their final two drives.
Franklin ripped off a 40-yard run on the Johnnies' final possession to seal the victory.
"It's a pleasure blocking for him," offensive lineman Brandon Hollis said. "We make him look good, he makes all of us look good."
Franklin was slightly more modest.
"We just said we had to stick to our bread and butter," Franklin said. "We did all day."
Maurer opened the scoring with a 1-yard run on Granville's first possession. He finished 11-of-30 passing for 145 yards and rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries.
The only downside for Johnstown was 17 penalties, five of which came in a span of eight snaps on Granville's first drive. But by halftime, Johnstown had amassed 333 total yards to Granville's 124.
JOHNSTOWN 12 20 0 6 -- 38
GRANVILLE 7 14 0 8 -- 29
G--Maurer 4 run (Burkholder kick)
J--Franklin 5 run (kick failed)
J--Franklin 46 run (run failed)
J--Franklin 20 run (kick failed)
J--Franklin 34 run (Smith run)
G--Comisford 47 pass from Maurer (Burkholder kick)
J--Franklin 1 run (run failed)
G--Lilly 86 kickoff return (Burkholder kick)
G--Maurer 34 run (Maurer run)
J--Franklin 16 run (run failed)