Franklin — Franklin quarterback Lance Baretz and running back Jesse Palok were at it again Saturday.
Four days after both rushed for more than 100 yards with three touchdowns apiece in an opening round playoff win over Whitnall, the pair of seniors led the Sabers to a 36-7 home victory over Brookfield East in the second round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.
Baretz completed 15 of 23 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown and added a pair of 1-yard rushing TDs. Palok compiled 149 rushing yards on 21 carries with two TDs. Palok went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season with his effort.
"It was good when we started getting back to Franklin offense and defense a little bit," Franklin coach Jeff Klemp said. "Our defense brought it pretty well (Saturday). Brookfield East's defense is the second-fastest defense we've seen all year. They fly, their linebackers are really quick, a couple (defensive linemen) are pretty quick. They've got a good defense; I thought our guys played well."
Undefeated Franklin (11-0) got out to a 15-0 first-half lead. Palok snapped a scoreless tie with a 4-yard plunge with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the second quarter. The extra-point made it 7-0.
"Jesse does a lot of great work for us," Klemp said. "You hear about Lance and the receivers, but man, Jesse does a lot of the dirty work for us, getting the five or six yards. Just a great football player."
"He always steps it up in the big games, even last year when he had to step in for Paul (Lincoln)," Baretz added. "He just had great games every time he had a chance. He just knows how to step up when we need him."
On Franklin's next possession, Baretz hooked up with Evan Walton for a 76-yard pass that took the ball down to the 1-yard line where Baretz sneaked it in with 2:09 left. The extra point try was no good, but Franklin recouped two points with a safety when a snap on a Brookfield East punt attempt sailed out of the end zone minutes later.
Franklin opened its lead to 22-0 on a 24-yard TD pass from Baretz to Anthony Meyer over the middle.
"We took our shots when we had them," Klemp said. "They played some cover-two and tried to keep us in front of them, but when we had opportunities (to go downfield) we took them, and did it pretty well."
Though the Spartans (9-2) cut into that lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass from John Lehman to Aaron Thompson with 2:20 left in the third, they were outscored 14-0 the rest of the way.
A somewhat sloppy opening-round win over Whitnall on Oct. 26 "was kind of like a wake up call," said senior linebacker Macon Plewa. "We focused a little bit more on (defending champion) Waunakee and we got hit by Whitnall. We realized we had to focus right away on this team and bought into the game plan."
"When we played Whitnall, we didn't feel like we played a very complete game, just a lot of mishaps, even though it was windy," Baretz said. "We felt we had to come out tonight and make a statement. We still didn't play a perfect game, but we played way better than we did (Tuesday)."
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