High school football: A look at Granite Bay-Franklin

By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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About Franklin: Having earned the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, the Wildcats (12-0) are the consensus No. 1 team in the greater Sacramento area, too.

“Everyone left is legit,” Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper said, summing up the semifinals as a whole.

After scoring the first playoff win in the school’s short history last season (this is Franklin’s seventh senior class), the Wildcats are bucking for much more this fall and roll into the semifinals after belting Nevada Union 35-14 and Stockton-Lincoln 42-6. Those are common opponents with Granite Bay (9-3), which pounded Lincoln 42-14 on Sept. 28 and Nevada Union 38-7 on Nov. 2.

Franklin is a running team, averaging 41 carries and 254 yards per game, and 52 of its 60 touchdowns have come via the ground attack. Kyran Harris has 944 yards and 17 touchdowns, Christian Fonbuena has 884 yards and 11 scores, and Steven Rogers has 652 yards and eight touchdowns. All are seniors.

On the other side of the ball, Granite Bay has shut down some tough runners this season. Lincoln’s USC-bound Justin Davis had minus-four yards against the Grizzlies, and Downey’s Juan Vaa-Ayala had 15 yards in eight carries Friday night, leaving him 28 yards shy of 1,000.

In short, something has to give.

Franklin is no slouch on defense, either. The Wildcats have held eight opponents to fewer than 10 points, including a shutout of Tracy. On the other side of the Wildcats, Granite Bay’s offense was in full precision mode at Downey. Powering behind linemen Braulio Gonzalez, Justin Ramirez, Kevin Blank, Austin Smith, Parker Doyle and tight end Steven Graber — average size 6 foot 2, 226 pounds — senior Johnny Cooley charged and plowed for 152 yards, a season high, and two touchdowns; senior fullback Taft Partridge ran straight ahead for 98 yards, also a season high, in 11 carries and a 37-yard touchdown on a pitchout that caught Downey by surprise; and junior flyback Tony Ellison had 101 yards rushing and receiving and caught one of Grant Caraway’s four touchdown passes. Speaking of, Caraway is a combined 20 of 25 passing with eight touchdowns in two playoff games.

Ellison’s amazing season now sits at 1,950 total yards with 810 rushing, 471 receiving and 669 in kickoff and punt return yards. He has scored 17 touchdowns. Cooley has 1,178 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Partridge, who also caught a scoring pass from Caraway on Friday night, has 428 yards rushing.