SHORT GAP - While reflecting on Frankfort's impressive and dominating 58-12 playoff victory over visiting Nicholas County, senior quarterback and leader Jansen Knotts stated, “I felt like it was our best performance overall as a team all year. We came out fired up and played a complete game.”
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - While reflecting on Frankfort’s impressive and dominating 58-12 playoff victory over visiting Nicholas County, senior quarterback and leader Jansen Knotts stated, “I felt like it was our best performance overall as a team all year. We came out fired up and played a complete game.”
Knotts’ words ring true as indeed it may have been Frankfort’s best overall performance of the season, and it came at the right time, in week 11 and in the first round of the playoffs. In fact, the Falcons’ 46 point margin of victory over Nicholas County is second only to Frankfort’s 48-0 playoff victory over Berkeley Springs in 2002 in Frankfort’s post-season history.
It was a win that had an extra-special feel for Frankfort’s seniors, knowing it was most assuredly their last home game at Falcon Stadium. For Knotts, “Wow, it was amazing. The atmosphere the last four years at home has been amazing and something I’ll never forget the feeling of. It sucks we won’t play any more games at home, but I won’t forget a minute of it and how fun it is.”
This sentiment was echoed by Knotts’ senior teammates. JJ Blank stated, “It was amazing, I just wish we had one more home game. I am going to miss playing here. I’m so glad we got the win at my last home game ever.”
According to senior running back Nick Marley, “Winning a home playoff game for my last game at Frankfort High School meant everything to me. From going 2-8 to where we are now has been a heck of a ride. To go out in front of our home crowd like that was awesome.”
“It meant everything to us. Coming off a bad loss to Keyser we wanted to bounce back, and show the state that we are here to win,” senior Connor Parish explained.
Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman was extremely happy about his team’s performance, and expressed great satisfaction in what the win meant, especially for the seniors, “It was an exciting night, and the crowd seemed like they were into the game. I’m really happy for the seniors and all the kids on the team.”
According to Whiteman, “That was a good performance, I’m proud of the kids. Early on we made some mistakes that we shouldn’t be making at this time of the year, but, it was a good effort, a good first round win. Now we get to get ready to move on.”
Whiteman expressed his appreciation for the large crowd assembled on both sides, and particularly for the enthusiasm and energy of the home crowd, “I’m glad that both sides had a crowd. I was excited when I heard that they were bringing a pep bus and their band, so it was a fun night.”
It was a game the Falcons dominated, almost from start to finish. Frankfort compiled 489 total offensive yards, 439 on the ground and 50 through the air. At the same time, the Falcons’ defense yielded only 148 total yards to the Grizzlies.
Frankfort got two touchdowns each by JJ Blank and Nick Marley, and the dynamic duo rushed for 125 and 129 yards respectively. Additional touchdowns were made by Jansen Knotts, Jansen Moreland, Peyton Shanholtz and Cole Hiett, along with a field goal from Brady Aldridge.
In fact, Brady Aldridge opened the scoring with a 25-yard Frankfort field goal. The kick was set up by quarterback Jansen Knotts’ 54-yard scamper to the 13-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. Nicholas County’s Justin Hill responded by returning the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a Grizzlies’ touchdown. With 9:44 left on the first quarter clock, Nicholas County grabbed a 6-3 lead.
Three plays later, Frankfort’s Nick Marley would respond with a big play of his own, racing 59 yards to the end zone to put the Falcons back on top 9-6 as the extra point was missed. From that point, it was really off to the races for Frankfort as with Marley’s touchdown, the Falcons would outscore the Grizzlies 55-6 for the remainder of the game.
Frankfort’s next score would be a 30-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jansen Knotts that, along with Brady Aldridge’s kick, gave Frankfort a 16-6 advantage with 8:08 remaining in the first quarter. Knotts’ touchdown was set up by a big 27-yard run by JJ Blank who took the ball from the Frankfort 43 yard line to the Grizzlies’ 30 yard line. The entire scoring drive was made possible by JJ Blank’s interception of Nicholas County quarterback Tim Baker.
Along with Blank’s interception, Frankfort set the tone defensively when they thwarted a Nicholas County scoring drive that saw the Grizzlies reach the Falcon one yard line. Stout defensive play by the Falcons, and a pair of penalties by the Grizzlies, would culminate with Frankfort snuffing out Nicholas County’s attempt at a score by stopping a Grizzlies’ receiver at the one yard line on fourth down.
After a pair of defensive stands by both teams, Frankfort would next get on the board on a 62-yard touchdown run by the electric JJ Blank with 6:34 remaining on the second quarter clock. Aldridge’s kick put the Falcons up 23-6.
Senior Greg McCoy would come up with a huge fumble recovery for the Falcons on Nicholas County’s next possession at the Grizzlies’ 45-yard line. Three plays later, after key runs by Peyton Shanholtz and Jansen Knotts, JJ Blank scored his second touchdown of the game on a 32-yard scoring run. With the Aldridge kick, Frankfort extended their lead to 30-6.
On Nicholas County’s next possession, the Falcons game defense forced a Nicholas County punt. A botched exchange between the snapper and the punter caused the Grizzlies to move back 13 yards on the play, setting Frankfort up nicely at Nicholas County’s 42 yard line. Peyton Shanholtz came up big on the ensuing drive with a big run that would move the chains and then ultimately culminate with his one-yard touchdown plunge that along with Aldridge’s kick, gave Frankfort a decided 37-6 halftime advantage.
“The offense played a complete game. I could never do anything I did without my great line and the other running backs blocking,” JJ Blank stated.
Nick Marley echoed Blank’s sentiments, “I couldn’t have had the game I had without my line blocking for me. We had a good week of practice practicing what we were going to run, and in the game we executed our plays and I was able to capitalize on the big holes and open space.”
Leading by 31 points at halftime, Jansen Moreland would extend the Frankfort lead to 38 points (44-6) with a one-yard dive, followed up by Aldridge kick at the 8:06 mark of the third quarter. Nicholas County would respond with their second score of the game, a 28-yard scoring scamper by the Grizzlies’ Zach O’Dell. With the two-point conversion play unsuccessful, the Falcon lead stood at 44-12.
Frankfort’s final 14 points to close out all scoring came on a Nick Marley 13-yard score with just under 2:00 to go in the third, and a Cole Hiett 32-yard scoring run off a scooped up fumble with under 1:00 to go in the contest. Aldridge’s extra points brought the final tally to 58-12 in favor of the Falcons.
Frankfort was led defensively by Connor Parish with eight tackles. “I think the key to our defense is coming out ready to knock someone’s head off every play, and everyone doing their job perfectly, and unselfishly,” Parish explained.
“It’s awesome, I didn’t want it to end tonight. You never want it to end because it’s sad when it does. I’m excited for them and I’m happy for them because they work hard and they’re good boys, and they deserve this,” Whiteman explained.
The Falcons do indeed advance to the quarterfinals and will travel to top-ranked Fairmont Senior Friday night at 7:30. Frankfort’s thrilling complete game performance in front of the large and enthusiastic home crowd assembled is a night that will long be remembered for the Frankfort community.
According to Whiteman, “The kids last year, when the season ended, they said next year we’re going to work harder, we want to make the playoffs and advance when we get there, and we’re doing that.” Mission accomplished, but with work still to be done.