There's officially a new dog in town, and it goes by the name of Franklin Wildcats.
In an exceptional display of balance, poise, execution and smothering defense, the visiting No. 2 Wildcats defeated No. 1 Elk Grove 17-7 in a Delta Valley Conference showdown Friday night that really amounts to a title game, and a new measure of bragging rights in town.
Elk Grove has played football on its "new" campus since 1964 and has educated students for decades before that.
Franklin is in its 10th varsity season, rejoicing in its greatest regular-season victory, added momentum and knowing it stalled the Thundering Herd's 17-game regular-season winning streak.
"Elk Grove's the big dog, definitely the big dog in this town for a long, long time," Franklin coach Mike Johnson said. "In reality, it's a two-dog town with Pleasant Grove, too, and both have won section titles. To be the best, we've got to beat the best."
And Franklin beat the best Friday as Elk Grove came in ranked No. 1 in the Sac-Joaquin Section and second in Northern California by MaxPreps, with Franklin at No. 2 and 3 in those rankings, respectively.
Franklin prevailed because its complete team was a bit better than Elk Grove (7-1, 2-1), which was without two-year starting quarterback Tommy Arnold, who was suspended for a locker-room fight while trying to retrieve his stolen cellphone.
The defense of the Wildcats (8-0, 3-0) bunched up the box with nine men, daring the Herd to throw with backup Guy Hall, who completed one pass for three yards off a deflection.
Still, even with Arnold at linebacker, his other position, Elk Grove would not have slowed Franklin. The Wildcats outgained the Herd 331-130 in total offense.
Christian Fonbuena rushed for 81 yards and Kyran Harris had 65, including the icing 27-yard touchdown run for the final score early in the fourth quarter.
Tre Lampley scored on a seven-yard run for Franklin and had 65 receiving yards. Quarterback Trent Spallas passed for 148 yards, connecting with Dionte Young for 97 of them.
Led by Joey Banks and William Vi, Franklin has had a strong defense all season, too, a championship unit that allowed the hard-charging Robert Frazier to fight for 83 yards, but they came on 25 carries. Wadus Parker cut Franklin's lead to 10-7 on a nine-yard touchdown run.
"My kids were very serious this week in practice, most serious they've been," Johnson said. "We even had Fonbuena and Harris take over on scout team and say, 'No, no, no. Frazier doesn't run like that for Elk Grove. He's much better. We'll show you.' "
Elk Grove aims to finish the regular season 9-1 and target a Division II section title after winning five in D-I. Franklin won its first playoff game last season, at Nevada Union, and now wants much more, such as a D-I title.
The baseball team won the D-I North title, and the good vibes of athletic success continue. Franklin packed the visitor's side at Elk Grove with boosters, parents, alumni and students.
"Things are going great right now," Spallas said.