By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — LAPEL — Brady Cherry was supposed to be in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday for a college visit. All things considered, the Frankton football team probably prefers he had kept the commitment.
Lapel's junior quarterback finished the first varsity win of his career Saturday afternoon, completing 18 of 28 passes for 388 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-34 rivalry game victory against the Eagles.
The reigning Herald Bulletin hitter of the year originally was scheduled to visit the University of Michigan on a baseball recruiting trip and attend the Wolverines' football game against Central Michigan. But it didn't take him long at all to decide to postpone the visit and stay home with his teammates.
"I was going to come play football," Cherry said. "I knew I could reschedule that."
Cherry threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns in the first half Friday night as the Bulldogs built a 38-20 lead. Lightning strikes postponed the contest with about nine minutes remaining in the third quarter after what would have been Cherry's fifth touchdown pass was called back on a holding penalty.
When play resumed Saturday at noon, further penalties stalled the Lapel drive and forced a punt.
The rivals were scoreless until the 11:30 mark of the fourth quarter when Cherry threw a screen pass to Joe Hart that the junior wide receiver turned into a 24-yard touchdown. Hart finished with seven catches for 156 yards and three scores.
He was one of three Lapel receivers to top the 100-yard mark. Junior Austin Schilke caught seven balls for 120 yards and one touchdown, and senior Bailey Partington had four grabs for 109 yards and two scores.
"I have trust in every single one of them," Cherry said of his receiving corps. "It doesn't matter who is open, I'm going to get them the ball."
Frankton answered with a power running game led by junior Nik Clark. He rushed 28 times for 139 yards and two scores. The Eagles finished with 198 yards rushing overall, and senior James Pace capped the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Frankton quarterback Brayden Ginder went 9-of-16 for 174 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Lapel coach Tim Miller said his young defense still is learning on the job.
"Defensively, we have some inexperience," he said. "We're playing some new guys in the secondary, and there are some things you just can not replicate in practice."
Offensively, there are fewer concerns.
Clark scored on a 2-yard run and added a two-point conversion to pull Frankton within 45-28 with 6:54 remaining. But it took Cherry just 39 seconds to answer with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Partington and put the contest back out of reach.
Already a star for the Bulldogs' basketball and baseball teams, this is Cherry's first season on the gridiron. And he erased any doubts about his commitment by rescheduling the Michigan trip.
"He's all in," Miller said. "He obviously can play the game on the field, and he's the ultimate team guy. He's a competitor. He hates to lose more than he likes to win, and that's a very good thing."
Frankton (1-1) travels to Mississinewa on Friday. Lapel (1-1) plays Broad Ripple at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech.
The Bulldogs finished just 2-9 last season, but an influx of 46 new players this year has expectations on the rise. With Cherry under center, and the offensive line doing a fine job of giving him time to make plays, those hopes could be well-founded.
"He controls the offense about as well as you could ask anybody," Miller said of Cherry. "He's one of the best QBs in the state. There's no doubt about that."