After a week of worry for North Putnam fans following last week's injury to starting quarterback Griffen Dahlstrom, there turned out to be no cause for stress.
Francies led the Cougars on three straight touchdown drives en route to a 41-6 win over the Tiger Cubs.
"The week was almost as interesting as our night," said Cougar coach Dave Pasch. "We knew we had some guys getting healthy. On offense you have a little continuity, and timing, and there are some issues that injuries create."
With the issues of four injuries in last week's game at Park Tudor, the Cougars had to have a different week of preparation, including being prepared for Francies, who normally plays wide receiver, to play quarterback.
But Dahlstrom led the Cougars out of the gate, taking the Cougars to 14 first half points.
The first scoring drive came on the Cougars' opening possession. North took 10 plays to go 69 yards for the score. Senior Kyle Rooker ripped off a 37-yard scamper on the third play to really put North in business. Dahlstrom picked up the final 10 yards, nine in the air on a pass to Francies, and the final yard on a plunge. After a Rob Ford kick, the Cougars led 7-0.
However, the half was marked largely by the Tiger Cubs' defensive effort in holding a potent Cougar offense to just two scores.
"We just lined up, and we got our kids to play," Greencastle coach Mike Meyer said. "We think we're a good team if our guys play."
Unfortunately for the Cubs, their offense could not get anything going, totaling just 39 yards of total offense in the opening half.
North Putnam's second score came on a five-play second quarter drive. Rooker and Adam Vondersaar shared the load with Vondersaar making runs of 12 and 14 yards. Rooker carried it in for the touchdown from seven yards out. After the kick, it was 14-0 North Putnam.
The half closed with the two teams trading punts the rest of the way.
Although the Cougars led 14-0, it was obvious their normally explosive offense had yet to find itself. Pasch credited the opposition.
"Coach Meyer did a tremendous job. I thought they had an outstanding game plan," Pasch said. "It took us a while to make adjustments, and their scheme also created some issues for us. I think we lacked at times in execution on offense."
The second half opened much the same, with each team punting once before Pasch brought Francies in for Dahlstrom.
Although Francies' first drive was a three-and-out, the move paid big on the second drive.
"J.T. had a little more speed at quarterback," Pasch said. "We just thought that with the kind of adjustments we wanted to make, we wanted a little more of a run threat from that position, and in our scheme that's important to us."
Francies' speed showed immediately, as he took the snap and raced right up the middle for nine yards. After Vondersaar got the first down on the next play, it was all Francies. The senior rushed six times for 77 yards on the drive. After his 43-yard run set the Cougars up first-and-goal from the four, Francies took it the rest of the way on the next carry.
After a missed extra point, the Cougars led 20-0.
As the Tiger Cub offense continued to flounder, the Cougars took off.
On the next North Putnam drive, Rooker ran a sweep to the right 68 yards for the score on only the drive's second play.
The extra point made it 27-0.
On the next possession, Francies closed his evening with his only throw of the night -- a 59-yard connection with Jerrett Ban for a touchdown.
The Cougars led 34-0.
On Greencastle's ensuing possession, quarterback Graham Shuee completed his first pass to Drew Evens for a nine-yard gain. Unfortunately, the next pass ended up in the hands of North Putnam's Justin Ensor.
After a Tiger Cub penalty on the next play, North Putnam's Darr Boruff ran 35 yards for the Cougars' final score, making it 41-0.
The Tiger Cubs offense finally began finding itself on the next drive, as they rushed seven times for 69 yards. Evens and Kendall Faust traded carries, with Evens breaking free for a 36-yard touchdown.
The Buzz Deer kick closed the night's scoring at 41-7.
Meyer and his team came away with their heads up, knowing they had lost to a very good team.
"Our kids played hard. They played four quarters," Meyer said. "That's a very, very good football team. To me, the big difference is their team speed. They are fast, and they played hard, played four quarters, and we came out on the short end."
For Pasch, the victory seemed to be a relief as much as anything. Not only had his starting quarterback come back from injury, his backup had proven himself more than capable.
"Whereas last week when we were tested, we lost our composure at times, this week we grew up a lot, and did it with a lot of different kids playing with minimal experience at the varsity level," Pasch said.
The Cougars host WCC rival Monrovia at 7 p.m. next Friday. The Tiger Cubs are also at home, hosting Putnam County and WCC rival Cloverdale at 7 p.m.
North Putnam 7 7 13 14 -- 41
Greencastle 0 0 0 7 -- 7
NP -- Dahlstrom 1 run (Ford kick good) 8:41
NP -- Rooker 7 run (Ford kick good) 8:33
NP -- Francies 4 run (kick failed) 2:31
NP -- Rooker 68 run (Ford kick good) 0:16
NP -- Ban 59 pass from Francies (Ford kick good) 9:39
NP -- Boruff 35 run (Ford kick good) 8:13
GHS -- Evens 36 run (Deer kick good) 4:45
First Downs -- NP 16, GHS 4
Fumbles-Lost -- NP 3-0, GHS 0-0
Penalties-Yards -- NP 4-35, GHS 3-25
North Putnam (6-0, 3-0 WCC):
Rushing -- (43 carries, 340 yards) -- Rooker 15-141, Francies 9-94, Vondersaar 8-40, Dahlstrom 4-(-9), Boruff 2-47, Adams 2-6, Diebold 1-9, Mancell 1-3, Jones 1-(-4)
Passing -- (6-10-1-0, 136 yards) -- Dahlstrom 5-9-0-0, 84 yds., Francies 1-1-1-0, 59 yards
Receiving -- (6 receptions, 143 yards) -- Francies 2-32, Ban 2-106, Rooker 1-5
Greencastle (1-5, 0-4 WCC):
Rushing -- (27 carries, 96 yards) -- Evens 15-68, Faust 8-19, Shuee 5-(-1)
Passing -- (7-14-0-1, 28 yards) -- Shuee 7-14-0-1, 38 yds.
Receiving -- (7 receptions, 38 yards) -- Evens 3-14, Birt 2-9, Walkosak 1-10, Nobles 1-5
Next game -- North Putnam hosts Monrovia at 7 p.m. next Friday. Greencastle hosts Cloverdale at 7 p.m. next Friday.