FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL
THE HEART OF A CHAMPION
By Joe Goerge
Published: Summer 1997
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. T