FRANKLIN, Ohio -- Ryan Montgomery enjoys the unique handshakes. Noah Kremer says his teammates make him smile and laugh.
This is the type of undefeated season the Franklin High School football team has experienced this fall.
Don’t get the wrong impression: The Wildcats are required to be focused. But when you’re 9-0 entering the final week of the regular season, there are plenty of enjoyable moments.
Franklin is projected to be the No. 1 seed in the Division III, Region 12 rankings, according to projections analyst Steve Shuck. Franklin plays at Brookville at 7 p.m. Friday.
“They pick each other up,” Franklin coach Brad Childers said. “This group is focused on the big picture.”
Childers has been at Franklin for 22 years, including the past three years as head coach. He honestly believes the Wildcats can win every game on their schedule.
But there’s something about this season. Franklin is 9-0 for the first time since the 1989 season -- well before any of the current players were born.
“It’s been really cool,” said Franklin athletic director and boys’ basketball coach Brian Bales, who was in middle school in 1989. “It’s just another neat thing for our community, alumni, staff and students to be really proud of.”
Franklin has scored a Southwestern Buckeye League-best 411 points. The Wildcats have speed and strength. They also have a willingness to play together.
“Our kids have bought into what we’re trying to install,” Childers said. “That is being held accountable and learning life skills.”
Learning such skills and building a strong sense of camaraderie started in May when the senior attended a one-day retreat at Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg.
The players participated in paint ball and enjoyed each other’s company.
“That really set the foundation of this group,” said Kremer, a senior wide receiver and defensive back.
Childers liked the bonding so much he brought the entire team back to camp in June. The team experienced a zip line and built a miniature road course.
Those aspects of building chemistry have the Wildcats on the brink of hosting a first-round game. The excitement around the community is noticeable too.
Franklin routinely travels well on road games. There has been standing room only during the six home games (seating capacity is estimated at 3,500 to 4,000).
Students and parents have been involved. The community support has made an impression on the players at home or away games.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Montgomery, a junior quarterback/running back who has 1,348 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns.
Franklin shined with red jerseys for the Oct. 14 game vs. Monroe. There has been plenty of alumni involvement and support from area businesses. Kremer, a standout wide receiver and defensive back, says the school starts to discuss the next game on Monday.
Everyone at Franklin wants the fun to continue.
“It’s been a fun ride,” Bales said. “We’ve had great crowds and turnout. I think the future is bright.”