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For sports teams, history can be made with special groups like the Franklin football program had last year with all the talent and expectation that talent brings.

That group made the state semifinals and were a play away from the state finals.

Or they can be made with groups like the Sabers have this year — not as talented, not as large, not as ladled with expectation.

Franklin won its program-record fourth straight Southeast Conference with that latter group on the back of a clinching 41-6 rout of Racine Park on homecoming Oct. 7. Coupled with Kenosha Indian Trail's loss to Racine Horlick that same night, the Sabers own the outright crown.

It was a very special night for coach Louis Brown and the Sabers.

"One thing that has been very different this year is the amount of pressure we faced this year," Brown said. "Last year was an awfully special group with an awful lot of pressure on it. This year, not so much. I think if I had any hair left on my head, I don't think I would have lost much at all.

"I really think we're approaching the maximum ability with this team. We were worried about leadership coming into the season, but the kids have really developed that way. We're very humbled and gratified by all this."

The win improved the Sabers to 6-0 in Southeast play (7-1 overall), and it was their 20th straight victory in league play. They will finish the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at Kenosha Tremper with a two-game lead in league play. Brown said he wants the team to finish well. The WIAA will construct eight-team playoff groups later that evening with seeding meetings to be held Saturday, Oct. 15. Brown expects the Southeast Conference qualifiers to be bunched in with several others. A win over Tremper would give Franklin status as an unbeaten conference champion and improve their seeding.

He said all this is very gratifying for the senior class.

"There are only about 16 of them right now as compared to the 28 we had last year," he said, "and not all of them are starters, and some are just special teams guys, but they all found their niche. Classes like this can be successful, too. They see what's done by the other groups, and then they can use that to help bring along the younger kids, too."

Franklin brought itself along in fine fashion, not letting a struggling Park team in the game.

It was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter on the strength of a Brad Tobin 37-yard TD return, a 1-yard Max Alba to Jacob Baumgardt pass and a 28-yard interception return from Aaron Simmons. It was 35-0 at the break, as Alba ran it in from 3 yards out, and then he hit Kyle Lewis on a 5-yard pass.

The starters scarcely touched the field in the second half as Derrick Jones finished Franklin's scoring with a 4-yard run in the third quarter.

"We had two major goals in this game," said Brown. "Keep everyone healthy and get everyone to play. You want to reward everyone who puts in the work (in practice) with playing time because these are kids who had to grow up quickly. I'm really happy for them."

Alba was nine of 13 passing for 92 yards and two TDs, while the Sabers rushed for 151 yards behind Jones with 56 yards on 10 tries and Tanner Dykstra with 46 on five efforts.

"It's nice to get the sole conference championship," Brown said. "For a group like this, this is something they can talk about for a long time. We've got a great thing here. We want to keep it going."

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