Senior staff writer
Second-year Franklin Central football coach Grant Lewis has his team moving in the right direction.
Lewis, a former strength conditioning coach, took the helm when his predecessor faced disciplinary action after the 2014 season. Lewis lost his first six games last year but closed the regular season with three straight wins.
This year the Flashes went on the road to defeat Decatur Central but then fell to Roncalli on a late-game touchdown at Lucas Oil Stadium, lost at Bloomington South by not converting four-of-five times inside the red zone and were shut out at Columbus North.
Playing at Ray Skillman Stadium, the Flashes responded with a dominating 42-14 Conference Indiana triumph over Perry Meridian after losing their last two games by a combined 71-7.
“We had a lot of excitement playing at home finally after our first four games on the road,” Lewis said. “The kids really, really want to finish. We made mistakes on offense and defense, but we realized how close we are to having a program like Bloomington South and Columbus North.”
The Flashes (2-3, 2-1) struck fast against the Falcons. Jared Miller returned the kickoff 46 yards, and running back Michael Pitz scored on the Flashes’ first play from scrimmage from 36 yards. Pitz and Jaylen Brown each scored later on short runs for a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Sophomore Dylan Bishop then made the best of his first start at quarterback by teaming with Brown and Wilson Huber on a pair of 22-yard touchdown passes in the second quarter for a 35-0 halftime lead.
The Flashes racked up 327 yards on offense and held the Falcons (1-4, 0-3) to 101 yards and only four first downs in the first half. Pitz gained 186 yards in the game, and running mate Brown picked up 84 yards, each on 15 carries.
Seniors Nathan Ruley, 12 tackles, and Kendal Kendrick, eight tackles, led the FC defense.
“Our offense had been in a lull for the last couple of weeks, so we put this on them all week to go out and outwork everybody,” Lewis said. “The offense came out extremely hot after a great kickoff return, and our defense was extremely physical.”
Perry Meridian, under first-year coach Matt Henninger, scored in the second half on T.J. Comer’s TD romps of 68 and 24 yards. Comer ran the offense, mostly from a shotgun formation in the second half, and gave the Falcons a lift with 128 yards on five kick returns.
The Flashes stay at home Friday against Southport, while Perry Meridian is host to Bloomington North at Perry Stadium.
“Football in Franklin Township is back; this program and the culture are changing,” said an enthusiastic coach Lewis. “The fan section is bigger and louder than it has been. The effort is high across the board. We’re hoping to win out the rest of the season and have the first winning season around here in a long time.”