After suffering their first loss of the season one week prior, the Franklin Wildcats’ varsity football team responded in a big way with a 35-21 victory over visiting River Valley this past Friday at Cosumnes Oaks High School.

The Wildcats (2-1) were able to bounce back with a well-rounded effort coming from both sides of the ball, knocking off a visiting Falcons (2-1) team that entered the contest without a blemish on their record after the first two weeks of play. Getting back on track, particularly against a quality opponent, was encouraging to Franklin head coach Evan Boylan.

“It felt good to beat a team that is as physical and well-coached as they are,” Boylan said of River Valley. “It did not go well for us last year when we played those guys (a 35-0 loss last season), so it was a fun night.”

Boylan also said he was very proud of the way his team was able to shake off the game the week prior and take care of business the very next week.

“It’s just the kind of team we have this year,” he said. “It’s the kind of leaders we have this year. This group comes back harder and works after a setback like that.”

Leading the way for Franklin against River Valley was senior tailback Reagan Fonbuena, who carried the ball 21 times for a staggering 129 yards and two touchdowns on offense. Defensively, the 6-foot, 205 pound Fonbuena led his team in tackles with 12 combined. Through three games this season, he has already amassed 80 carries for 483 yards and five rushing scores, along with 27 total tackles and a sack defensively as the catalyst for the Wildcats’ quick start to the year.

“He’s the leader for us right now on both sides of the ball,” Boylan said. “He’s just a really smart kid who we can count on to get everyone else out there where they are supposed to be. He’s the quarterback of our defense in that way. Offensively he’s a workhorse.”

Another big contributor on the night was senior wide receiver Michael Hardey, who provided his best game of the season as he reeled in four receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns. His effort was noticed by his coach, who couldn’t help but gush about what he saw from the youngster against the Falcons.

“He’s a baller,” Boylan said. “He’s a fun kid to watch play, and he’s just one of those kids that has a knack for getting open. He’s a great kid and a leader for us.”

Franklin travels to Grant this Friday to take on a Pacers’ team that has started its season 0-3 after losses to top quality opponents in Davis, Central (Fresno, CA), and Eastside Catholic (Washington), respectively. Boylan knows that Grant coach Mike Alberghini will have his team ready to play, and that the Pacers’ 0-3 start is not indicative of the talented team they will be facing.

“They’re 0-3 but their schedule has been brutal,” he said. “It’s not like they’re losing to any slouches here. They’re still Grant. They’re big, athletic, and fast. Mike (Alberghini) does a great job over there getting kids ready. It’s always a challenge going over to Grant. It’s a great environment to play in. We don’t think their record shows what kind of a football team they are, at all.”

Friday’s contest at Grant High School is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.