Bass sets records as Wildcats roll to third straight state final
CAMPBELLSVILLE – Franklin-Simpson is headed back to Lexington.
Behind dominant nights from the running back duo of Tre Bass and Carlos McKinney, the Wildcats rolled to a 33-0 shutout win Friday over Taylor County in the semifinals of the KHSAA Class 4A Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl at Thomas Porter Stadium to book its third consecutive trip to the state finals.
“Man, what can you say about these kids? It’s a year-round effort to try and do what we’re doing now,” Franklin-Simpson coach Doug Preston said. “We’ve gotta give credit to the kids for being committed to it.”
Rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown, Bass – a senior – broke both the school’s single-season rushing yards (1,872) and rushing touchdowns (29) records. Bass passed Bear Stanley to claim the yardage record, while he passed Darius Wickware for the TD mark.
Along with Bass’ performance, McKinney finished with 113 rushing yards and a TD, while quarterback Luke Richardson completed 2-of-4 passes for 54 yards and a score. In addition to that trio, Malik Carter (2) and Leandre Stutzman each scored TDs to round out of the Wildcats’ offense.
“I really wasn’t thinking about it, though,” Bass said of setting the records he did. “I wasn’t playing for myself tonight. I was playing for the fans and our team. I really don’t have words for it, literally. Just blessed to be able to do it.”
Franklin-Simpson – now 13-1 on the season – led 7-0 after the opening quarter and held a 21-0 advantage at halftime. The Wildcats added 12 more points to their side of the scoreboard in the second half and never allowed Taylor County (12-2) to string together any momentum.
The Wildcats will face Johnson Central (13-1) next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CT) at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field for the state championship. It’ll mark the third straight meeting between the Wildcats and Golden Eagles in the state finals.
“We’re ready for ‘em,” Stutzman said of Johnson Central. “We’re about to come out prepared for ‘em.”
It was all Franklin-Simpson in the opening half.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Wildcats put together an eight-play, 87-yard drive that knocked 3:18 off the clock – capped by a 23-yard touchdown run from Bass, which gave him the single-season rushing TD record. Bass (39 yards) and McKinney (48) combined for all 87 yards on the series and helped give Franklin-Simpson a 7-0 lead at the 8:35 mark.
Although the Wildcats punted on their second drive, they made up for it by doubling their advantage near the midway point of the second quarter. Using another 8-play series, McKinney scored on a two-yard run to make it 14-0 with 7:55 remaining in the half.
Bass rushed for 23 yards on the drive to earn the single-season rushing yards record.
Just before the break, Franklin-Simpson found the end zone once again. Following an interception by Stutzman, who picked off Taylor County quarterback Grant McQueary and returned it into the Cardinals’ territory, Richardson fired a 28-yard TD pass to Stutzman to send the Wildcats into the locker room up 21-0.
“It just felt good,” Stutzman said. “Being able to get a pick and then after that score, it just felt good.”
Franklin didn’t score again until there were just 11.8 seconds left in the third quarter, but a one-yard touchdown run from Carter had the Wildcats leading 27-0 entering the fourth. Carter then tallied another one-yard score with 4:59 left to push it to 33-0.
Holding a five-score advantage, Franklin-Simpson was able to coast through the final five minutes and turn its attention to Johnson Central.
“I just know they’re really, really good,” said Preston. “I’ve heard they’re better than last year, so it’ll be tough.”
Franklin-Simpson 33, Taylor County 0
Franklin-Simpson – 7 14 6 6
Taylor County – 0 0 0 0
F-S – Bass 23 run (Hollingsworth kick), 8:35
F-S – McKinney 2 run (Hollingsworth kick), 7:55
F-S – Richardson 28 pass to Stutzman (Hollingsworth kick), 1:08
F-S – Carter 1 run (2-point fails), :11.8
F-S – Carter 1 run (PAT no good), 4:59