GRAND ISLAND – Caleb Francl scored two touchdowns — one on a third-quarter pick-six — to help Grand Island snap a two-game losing skid with a 24-3 victory over Lincoln East at Memorial Stadium.
However, the bigger news following the regular-season finale might have been the knee injury he suffered in the fourth quarter.
“It’s too early to tell (the severity) on Caleb,” said Islanders coach Jeff Tomlin. “We’ll let our trainers look at him and see."
For most of the game, the 6-foot, 170-pound junior linebacker was the best player on the field. He spearheaded a defense that was more physical than East. And he turned in the play of the game with his interception return that sparked the No. 10 Islanders to the victory.
“Caleb’s pick was a big play in the game," Tomlin said. "He has a knack for being in the right spot."
Nursing a 10-3 lead, Francl stepped in front of a Devin Beckner pass and scooted 15-yards for the TD. The interception came two plays after Beckner connected with Luke Spethman on a key third-down conversion for East.
Grand Island (7-2) iced the game on its ensuing drive. Francl scored from 4-yards out after catching a swing pass from quarterback Cole Evans.
Evans returned on senior night after missing most of the Islanders’ last two games — both losses — with a sprained ankle.
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“Cole’s a great leader and it was a big boost for our kids having him back out there,” Tomlin said.
Another boost was provided by a swarming GI defense.
The Islanders bottled up East all game, allowing just 154 total yards. The Spartans (5-4) mustered just two plays of more than 15 yards, while Beckner was sacked five times.
“They’re physical,” East coach John Gingery said. “They were more physical than us. They’re a good team and will be tough for whoever they play next week.”
Despite the loss, East will advance to next week’s Class A playoffs. However, the Spartans may be without standout linebacker Braden Sellon who left Friday’s game in the first half with an injury.
“We lost a couple kids (to injury) tonight,” Gingery said. “Braden’s a stud in the middle for us and we’ll have to move some kids around. But it’s not the same without him.”