Stat machine Joshua Franklin leads Crete-Monee into state playoffs

Joshua Franklin and coach John Konecki were too caught up in the moment to realize what had just happened when Crete-Monee played Thornwood on Sept. 17.

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Crete-Monee’s Joshua Franklin (7) returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Kankakee.

Crete-Monee’s Joshua Franklin (7) returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Kankakee.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Joshua Franklin and coach John Konecki were too caught up in the moment to realize what had just happened when Crete-Monee played Thornwood on Sept. 17.

“I didn’t know at all,” said Franklin, the Warriors’ junior quarterback.

But his mother did.

“My mom had asked me to ask the stat keeper,” Franklin said. “He told me, and I was amazed.”

Who wouldn’t be? Franklin put up video-game numbers in Crete’s 78-18 victory: He had 469 total yards and accounted for eight touchdowns — 340 passing yards and six touchdown passes, 129 rushing yards and two touchdown runs.

Konecki said he was just focused on the next play all night long.

“[The game] was back and forth, and we just exploded,” he said. “I got the stat sheet, and I was like, ‘Oh. OK.’ . . . It was one of those deals where somebody was in that state of flow.”

Usually, Franklin is flowing from one sport to the next. When the 6-foot, 167-pounder was younger, he was involved in five of them: football, baseball, basketball, track and wrestling.

Even in high school, he still participates in four, splitting his time in the winter between football and wrestling.

“I have to talk to both of my coaches to work around the schedule,” said Franklin, who doesn’t want to give up either one. “I’ve been doing both since I was little.”

Franklin got his start in football with the University Park Lions. 

“He came in as a freshman, played a little on varsity, and we were able to see a little bit of that athleticism,” Konecki said. “Then COVID hit.”

But even a pandemic didn’t slow down Franklin. He worked out at home and did some seven-on-seven events on a team with some friends from his youth football days.

Konecki marvels at Franklin’s motor.

“He’s go, go, go — he’s been that way forever,” Konecki said. “I tell him, ‘It’s OK sometimes to stay on the couch.’ ”

Crete-Monee’s Joshua Franklin (7) gets ready for a kickoff after scoring his third touchdown against Kankakee last season.

Crete-Monee’s Joshua Franklin (7) gets ready for a kickoff after scoring his third touchdown against Kankakee last season.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

But sport is life for Franklin. He was a state medalist in the triple jump during the spring track season and is starting to get Big Ten and Mid-American Conference interest in football.

Konecki has coached some elite athletes at Crete. Two reached the NFL — Laquon Treadwell and Lance Lenoir — and two more — Trayvon Rudolph and Clint Ratkovich — are playing for Northern Illinois.

“[Franklin] reminds me of those guys when they were younger,” Konecki said.

Can Franklin reach similar heights? Konecki isn’t betting against it.

“He’s a great leader, a tremendous kid to be around,” Konecki said.

The scary thing for opponents is Franklin is still getting used to playing quarterback after coming to high school as a wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner (he’s still doing the latter two).

“I had some games where I had some mistakes,” he said. “I’m still learning the position, but I’ve got a great quarterback coach [Quincy Woods].”

And as the numbers showed that night in September, he’s getting the hang of it.

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