The past three years Frankfort looked at the last regular season game against Crawfordsville as the chance to keep from going without a win.
And, the past two years were not kind to the Hot Dogs – no wins in each of those seasons. But, Friday's game against the Athenians had a different meaning in 2020. FHS entered the contest in hopes of accomplishing something that has not been done for 11 years – end the regular season with a winning record.
Despite a first quarter Crawfordsville touchdown, the Dogs bounced back to score three times, hold the Athenians scoreless for the remainder of the game and claim their fifth win of the season, 22-8, for a regular season record of 5-4.
“That was exciting – first regular winning season in like 11 years,” said a jubilant FHS coach James Byers after the senior class had surprised him with a cooler of water poured over his head. “You can’t say enough about this group of seniors. They’re outstanding young men. I’m so happy for all of them. I’m so happy for those two senior classes that came before them that kind of set the stage for this.
“This group has done a tremendous job of battling through adversity – battling when people around didn’t believe in them and they believed in themselves and believed in each other,” Byers added. “They just kept grinding. They just kept working.”
The Hot Dogs defense turned up the pressure after the early score and collected five interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Two of the turnovers led to FHS scores by the Dogs’ offensive unit. And, the special teams unit added a block punt.
“Defensively we are tough,” said coach Byers.
Frankfort got on the board twice in the second quarter both times the result of the defense causing a turnover.
The first score came after Vlad Carreras Lantigua forced a fumble of Athenians quarterback Kaiden Underwood on the 4-yard line. Four plays later and Hot Dogs quarterback Sam Michael scored on a 1-yard run. A two-point conversion pass to Jade Ayers from Michael tied the game at 8-8 with 11:09 left in the second quarter.
The second score came after Brenton Wood intercepted a pass thrown by Underwood on the 40-yard line that allowed the offensive unit to take the field. And like the previous score, Michael scored on a 1-yard run. The two-point try failed – the Dogs up 14-8 with 6:40 left in the first half.
FHS scored the final time in the fourth quarter at 8:39 on a 36-yard run by Michael. Cam Swinford caught the 2-point pass from Michael that moved the score to 22-8.
“We played well on all three phases,” coach Byers said. “Coach Pickrell did a great job of putting together a defensive game plan. Coach Jewell did a great job with the offensive game plan and making in-game adjustments.
“Coach Surber did a great job of putting together the special teams plan. The entire staff, coach Chris Keller, Colt Keller – Dylan Shelley and Noah Dubree both are former players of ours that have come back and are doing a great job with our guys.”
With the regular season complete, Frankfort turns its focus to the post-season playoffs. The Dogs travel Friday to its perennial rival Lebanon (2-4) for the first round of the class 4A sectional 22 action. The two did not meet in the regular season due to COVID-19 protocols with the Lebanon team. In addition to the game canceled with Frankfort due to COVID-19, Lebanon canceled two additional games, Danville and North Montgomery.
“(Lebanon) coach Smock is an outstanding coach. He’s got some really big kids on his line. They’ve got some really terrific athletes,” said coach Byers. “The Harker kid is back (Garret Harker, 5’10”, senior, quarterback). Their wide receiver is back - Reese (J.C. Reese, 6’2”, senior), he’s probably the fastest kid in the conference. And, they are going to be tough defensively.
“We are going to focus in on what we are going to need to do to be competitive with those guys. They kind of came in here last year and steam rolled us (53-0), but we’re a little more confident team this year. We’re a little bit more composed. We’ve been in some kind of tough, close games. So hopefully, we can be a little more competitive with them this year.”
HOT DOGS 22, ATHENIANS 8
1st Qtr (7:20) Crawfordsville. Kaigen Fields 18-yard pass from Kaiden Underwood. Underwood 2-point conversion run good. 0-8.
2nd Qtr (11:09) Frankfort. Sam Michael 1-yard run. Two-point conversion pass good, Jade Ayers pass from Michael. 8-8.
2nd Qtr (6:40) Frankfort. Sam Michael 1-yard run. Two-point conversion failed. 14-8.
4th Qtr (8:39) Frankfort. Sam Michael 36-yard run. Two-point conversion pass good, Cam Swinford pass from Michael. 22-8.