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The Franchise gets it done in title tilt

fran chise (fran chiz') n. Players of great talent … considered vitally important to a team's success
by: JAIME VALDEZ, THE FRANCHISE — Jesuit’s line, AKA “The Franchise,” included (left to right) Nick Lewis, Mike Remmers, Sean Williams, Mike Lamb, fullback Owen Marecic, Adam Kleffner, Aaron Campbell and Ryan Heffernan helped their team average 338 yards rushing per game in the 2006 season.

EUGENE - As much as you've heard about Jesuit senior tailback Paul Weatheroy, you should also have heard about 'The Franchise.'

As much as you've seen of the Crusaders' offensive exploits, you should also have taken note of 'The Franchise.'

As amazing as Jesuit's offensive numbers this year have been, equally amazing has been 'The Franchise.'

'The Franchise,' Jesuit terminology for its powerful offensive line and fullback Owen Marecic, didn't make the headlines this year, but they made the holes and paved the way for one of Oregon's best-ever rushing and offensive attacks.

With seniors Adam Kleffner at center, Nick Lewis and Mike Remmers at tackle, Aaron Campbell and Michael Lamb at guard, Sean Williams at tight end and Marecic setting the tone, Jesuit ran around, ran past and ran over every one of its 13 victims this year.

Jesuit scored 48.8 points per game this year, notched 64 of its 88 touchdowns on the ground and averaged more than 338 rushing yards per contest along the way. And The Franchise played a big, big part in all that success.

'There's no individuals,' explained Kleffner. 'There's guys who got their names in the paper but hey, we come out together. It's a team aspect every time. We just take pride in the fact that we come out every day and play hard.'

'We don't always get the credit, but we know that whatever Paul does, it reflects on us,' Lamb said. 'So we just do our thing and have a good time.'

The Franchise probably had the time of its life on Saturday, pummeling Southridge for 354 rushing yards in Jesuit's 56-7 rout in the first-ever Class 6A state title game at Autzen Stadium. As has been the case all season long, Weatheroy (who finished his season with a school-record 2615 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns) was the main beneficiary of The Franchise's efforts up front - he ran for 292 yards on 30 carries and added four more touchdowns to his incredible playoff success.

'It's pretty neat. I'm so proud of them,' Weatheroy said. 'They've done a great job all season, and on top of that, today they came out and made some great holes for (Raphiel Lambert) and I to run through.'

It's that sort of mutual appreciation - of Jesuit's backs for their line and vice versa - that has been a hallmark of the Crusaders' offensive unit all season long. That, and an unending stretch of hard work that started seemingly the moment that last year's state championship game was over.

'We've been working hard all year, trying to get better every day in practice and it ends like this and it's great,' Marecic said. 'It feels great.'

'We worked out together in the offseason, right after the season stopped, … running stairs and lifting weights,' Lewis said. 'We were bigger, stronger and faster this year and more dominant.'

'These guys are my brothers. They'd do anything for me and I'd do anything for them.'