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FHS 1994 Football Champs Reminisce At 25th Anniversary

Members of the 1994 Franklin High School state championship football team gathered Aug. 17 for their 25th reunion.

Members of the Franklin High School 1994 championship football team, and their coaches, huddled at the Twenty/20 tap house Aug. 17 to mark the 25th anniversary of their taking the state trophy home.

Organized by Robert Edmond, one of the team’s three captains, the evening was meant for one-time teammates and now adult friends to catch up with each other since the last formal gathering in 2014.

“We’re a very tight-knit group and we really just wanted to come out and bond another time, we haven’t seen each other in a while,” Edmond said.

The 1994 squad was not expected to do much that season; the last time Franklin won a state football championship was in 1990. But the team jumped off to a 4-0 start, and people started taking notice.

Then Franklin played Somerville, a team the Warriors should have beaten on paper, and were defeated 17-14. That was a wake-up call, Edmond said.

“I don’t know how we lost that game.” he said. “That was the team that knocked us off our pedestal a little bit. We would have loved to have had a perfect season, but that loss was crucial. After that loss, we were relentless. We never lost another game.”

The Warriors never blinked, even when they faced undefeated Neptune Township in the state group final, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.

Before the game, Edmond said, the two teams shared the practice space.

“Neptune came in rowdy and yelling, and I guess trying to intimidate us because we were kind of locked in and quiet, and I remember they were talking a lot of smack and we just looked at them with complete focus, completely steely eyed,” he said. “We didn’t say anything. I knew at that moment that we were ready. I mean, chills went down my spine because we were just standing at attention, looking at them, like they have no idea what’s about to happen to them.”

Neptune quickly found out, as the Warriors returned a first-play-of-the-game fumble for a score.

Franklin went on to win the championship 39-25.

“That was a great team,” 1994 head coach Joe Goerge said. “I think it was a special team. We knew we could be good. We really started to believe early on in our games.”

Coach Goerge at the reunion.

Goerge said he remembered the practice after the Somerville loss, his players came to him “saying that will never happen again.”

“I think it was a special group, great relationships were built,” he said. “We had talent, no doubt, but it wasn’t just the talent that carried us to that kind of a season.”

Goerge was more than just a coach, Edmond said.

“He was a father figure, a mentor,” he said. “He treated us like young men and we responded to that by conducting ourselves like young men,” Edmond said. “His mantra was, you’re a warrior for the rest of your life. Whether you’re on the football field, in the community, in a store, remember that. That’s why you see all these young men go on and be successful.”

Also at the reunion was the team’s assistant coach, Bob Martin.

“It’s always great to see these guys,” he said. “Some are involved in coaching, so we have contact with them, but it’s always great to see them.”

Edmond remembered that Martin would “always get in the dirt with us” during drills.

“How could you not get hyped when you saw your coach on the blocking sled,” he said.

“They were passionate about it and we were passionate about it,” Martin said. “You can’t really ask them to so something that you wouldn’t do yourself. They were a great bunch to coach because they absorbed everything and they wanted to win for each other.”

Goerge helmed the 1996 FHS championship football team, and then went on to win three more state championships as the South Brunswick High School coach.

Martin coaches football and boys basketball at Dayton High School in Springfield.

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