Editors Note: Franklin High School: Somerset, New Jersey, Enrollment 1150 Boys and Girls Group 3. Head coach; Joe Goerge, 5 Years at Franklin 1992-96. Prior to arriving at Franklin he had coached for ten years at Port Richmond High School in Staten Island New York.
By Joe Goerge
At Port Richmond High School in 1986 we had a BFS Clinic put on by Rick Anderson and Stefan Fernholm. We spent time with Rick and Stefan and I have been a friend of Rick's and a BFS proponent ever since. In 1992 following our first season at Franklin (4-5), we had a BFS Clinic at School put on by Rick Anderson. We had been doing the program in New York since 1986 and we were going to continue the program at Franklin. I was able to bring two of my coaches to Franklin from New York, Bob Martin my top assistant and Lee Blum a former player who were aware of the BFS program. We came to Franklin stressing the core lifts; Parallel Squats, Box Squats, Power Cleans, Dead Lifts, Straight Leg Dead Lifts, and we do Bench. However, the "Total Program" concept was the idea we really wanted to sell. Plyos, speed, agility, flexibility, discipline, character, and mental toughness are all parts of the BFS Total Program. It took us a little while to win over the players because there had been success in the past but the Total Program concept was not in place. The results over the last four years speak for themselves, our players have been strong in November and December during playoff time because of the BFS In-season program. We are not physically big but with the BFS Program we have become a physical team. We have had few injuries and the coaches and players believe it is because of the BFS Program.
In 1994 we were not expected to do much according to the so called experts. We put together a 10-1 season and our first state championship at Giants stadium beating 10-0 Neptune H.S. 39-25. It was in 1994 that I could really see our strength program coming through for us at the end of the year. In 1995 we were the pre-season pick as the number one team in the area. It was a year where we lost our QB during our first game. (An ACL that the doctor said would keep him out of the year... He missed 5 games), but the team showed the heart of a champion and we made it to the finals. Again, we had to play a 10-0 Neptune team who had dominated its opponents throughout the season. We lost a hard fought game 21-12. We were all disappointed but as we left Giants Stadium one of our junior players said that we were going to be back. As it turned out his premonition for 1996 was correct.
In 1996 we started our season with "Team First" as our theme. We were hit hard by graduation yet we felt we had some fine underclassmen coming back. We did not have the real "star" returning and if we were going to be successful in 1996 it was going to take a total team effort. We had a real fine group of seniors who we felt could be good leaders. Our coaches, as always were excited and ready to do whatever it took. We go to the Pocono Mountains for a week for our pre-season camp in August. We have the players up at 6:00 a.m. for an hour of conditioning drills we call, "the great adventure". It is the toughest part of the day but it really brings our players together and makes them pull for each other. (It is like the dead lift contest at BFS clinics . . . mind, body and spirit)
We then have three practices (Morning, Afternoon, Evening) and finish with position meetings. The players are in their cabins at 10:00 p.m. and lights are out at 10:30 p.m. It is a tough week but it is an experience the players look forward to each year. On the last night we elect captains and have a pizza party for the seniors. This year for the first time in my 15 years as a head coach the players elected only one captain. As is the case most of the time, the players knew exactly what they were doing. Daryn Plummer, a 6'2, 200 pound L.B. and O.T., had been a 3 year varsity starter and now he was the one and only Franklin Football Captain. As an eighth grader, he sat in the stands and saw Rick Anderson put on our first BFS clinic and here he was 4 years later the captain of the Franklin Football Team. As was his style, he did not have much to say in his acceptance speech, but little did we know then that Daryn would lead us back to Giants Stadium and the 1996 finals.
We were picked pre-season as the #1 team in the area, we won our first game 35-8 and then we lost our second game 20-6 at home. We were winning 6-0 at the half and then we were outplayed 20-0 in the second half. I could tell that the players were a little shook up coming off the field and I spoke to Coach Martin about how we were going to address the team. As it turned out, when we got to the locker room a former player and captain of our 1994 championship team Rob Edmond was addressing the team. He payed particular attention to the seniors when he spoke about leadership, dedication, family and having the heart of a champion. Well, the message hit home so much that there was very little for the coaches to say. The 1996 team had been challenged by a former player and the only question was how would they respond. The first good sign came on Monday morning when a senior, Donnie Sargent, came in with a message he had printed entitled "Heart Check". He asked me if he could put the message on the players lockers and I said yes immediately. We talked about it all week individaully and as a team. We always talk about dealing with adversity to the team and now they knew it was time to stand up and be counted. It certainly seemed to work as we went on to win our last 6 conference games and gained the fourth and last spot in the playoffs. We were 7-1 and the three other teams were 8-0; we would have to go on the road for the first time in three years. However, the players knew that would be the case from the second week on and they were excited about the opportunity of being back in the playoffs.
We played the number one seeded team at their field. They were undefeated and to make matters worse they were coached by a close friend of mine who had come over from New York a couple of years after me. We were losing 7-6 at the half in what would be a classic playoff game. At half-time, our captain, Daryn Plummer came over to me to ask if he could speak to the team. I agreed and Daryn spoke to the team about our theme of "Team First" in 96 and about what it had taken for us to get this far. He reminded the players about the off-season and summer BFS program as well as our week in the Poconos. There was no real discussion of X's and O's. We went ahead 13-7 in the third quarter after Nick Solomon, a junior running back, ran from 20 yards following a forced poor punt. Nick is 5'8" 185 pounds and has a 400 Parallel Squat, a 225-pound Clean, 500-pound Dead Lift and runs a 4.5 forty. He along with Daryn Plummer, Jan Handeland, Chris Harris, Reggie Garrett and the rest of our seniors typify the Upper Limit Athlete. With three minutes left, Sayreville scored to tie the game. Reggie Garrett, a senior wide receiver, had just returned from a three game absence due to injury. He blocked the extra point to keep the game tied. As he came off the field, he was yelling we are not losing this game. After a nice return by senior Deandre Styles, we drove the ball down the field and running back Marc Hamilton (1247 Yards) scored with about a minute to go. On our winning drive, we ran the ball six times in a row. The BFS program was obvious as we were able to move the defense off the ball. Sayreville showed their class as they drove in the last minute but a sack by Jan Handeland ended the game. We were going back to Giants Stadium for the third straight year!!!
In the finals we were playing Hamilton, a school we had beaten in the 1995 semi-finals. They were 10-0 and had defeated the #1 team in the state, Neptune, 31-7 in the semi-finals. Neptune had also been ranked #15 in the nation by USA TODAY. Hamilton was running the wishbone and averaged about 38 points a game, while their defense was giving up less than a touchdown a game. They had a large offensive line led by an All-State 320-pound guard and a defensive line led by a 240-pound middle guard. In 3 years, Coach Keith Hartbauer, had really turned around the program. They were very confident and the revenge factor certainly was there from their perspective. I can still remember our final Monday lift, my group was the linebackers led by Daryn Plummer and Carlton Evans. We had a great workout as the players were breaking records right up to the last game. As we prepared for the week, we thought that our edge might be in experience, since we were making our third trip to the Giants Stadium and for them, it was their first. The second edge we thought we had was in the special teams area. We worked very hard on these areas during the week. In the first quarter, we had a pooch punt that pinned Hamilton inside their own 10 yard line Three plays later, seniors Jonathan Brown and Chris Harris, hooked up on a 16-yard TD pass. A 2-point pass to Reggie Garrett made it 14-0 but we were not finished. Again, on the kick off they fumbled. Our players sensed the opportunity to put the game away. Marcus Hamilton ran in from 12 yards out to make the score at the end of the first period 20-0 in our favor. With Daryn Plummer, Nick Solomon, Jan Handeland, Carlton Evans and Donnie Sargent leading our defense we completely bottled up their offense. After a fumble and a pass interference call, Hamilton had its only chance to score. However, as was the case all year, the defense rose to the occasion and Hamilton kicked a field goal and trailed 20-3 at the half. In the locker room Coach Martin spoke about maintaining defensive pressure and pursuing to the ball. For the final time, Daryn Plummer spoke as the captain. Our seniors had once again showed us the way. We scored once in the second half as Nick Solomon brought forth a 41-yard score on the way to another 100-yard plus game. Our defense was relentless as we recorded a 26-3 win and our second State Championship. This senior group certainly "Rode the High Places" in 1996. Harry Frezza a sports writer for THE COURIER NEWS said "this was truly a special team, special in a lot of ways. As in special teams, as in special memories and as in special people."
Nick Solomon: 5-8, 185 lb RB-CB, 500 lb. Dead Lift, 400 lb. Parallel Squat, 225 lb. Power Clean, First Team All-Area & All-County selection. "We came together as a team. We lost game #2 but we were motivated to do our best, one game at a time. We stayed together as a team, and as a leader I try to provide leadership by my example and my work ethic. Along with the heart to win, we must have the strength to win. During the fourth quarter and during the playoff stretch, BFS gave us the confidence that we could succeed. For me I'm not tall but through BFS I have become powerful and my speed has improved to 4.5 in the forty."
Daryn Plummer: All-State Linebacker. "We had the mind set of a winner and the BFS program gave us the confidence in the weight room that carried over to the field. As captain my role is to provide leadership through example. We must believe in each other and in the team. We didn't have a real star. We depended on everyone contributing. The BFS Program gave us the edge. We were able to see our progress and development and we did get Bigger, Faster and Stronger."
Clinician's Note: "Take it to the Next Level." This was the theme of our 1996 March BFS Clinic at Franklin High School. After their Championship year, Franklin High School, under the excellent direction of Coach Joe Goerge has reset their goals on a national ranking in the 1997 year. Based on the athlete's performance and commitment level, who knows? "Expect a Miracle!"
Franklin's BFS Clinician