Senior Jared Laudenslager waited four years to win a championship, and finally defeated Northeast to do it.
Jared Laudenslager wanted a championship more than anything.
But there was a time when he wasn’t sure if he’d even have a chance at playing for it.
Laudenslager is a senior on the Franklin Towne Charter High School soccer team, and this was his fourth year as a starter on the team. In each of his first three seasons, the Warriors were a contender for the Public League championship, but they couldn’t get over the hump and actually win the championship.
When camp started, he was sure the Warriors had another chance to win the crown, but shortly after the school year started, Franklin Towne coach Patrick Heaney stepped down. The shakeup could have been the end of the season.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” Laudenslager said. “It was really hard. I was a captain so I was trying to keep everyone (positive), but I didn’t know what to say. I was really worried. You can’t lose your coach during the year like that.”
But they did, and luckily for the Warriors, Chris Logan was ready to take over, and with a little help from his team leader, he was quickly brought up to speed with what the Warriors wanted to do.
And then they did it.
The Warriors went on to make the playoffs and defeat three-time defending champion Northeast 2–1 in the Public League championship game. The Warriors then went on to represent the Public League in the District 12 Class 3A championship, where they fell to Catholic League champion Archbishop Wood, but the main goal was accomplished.
Franklin Towne played Lower Dauphin in a first-round state playoff game. The result was unknown when the Times went to press.
“Every other year, no matter how good we were, we couldn’t beat Northeast or Central,” said Laudenslager, who lives in Bridesburg. “We beat Northeast during the regular season and we knew they were good. Beating them felt so good because they’ve been the best team and we couldn’t get them.
“Winning felt so much better. Losing hurts, but winning feels so good. It makes all the hard work worth it.”
Laudenslager did his part on the field.
He was responsible for setting the table, getting everybody in the right position and leading the transition game. But he also took the responsibility of being a team captain seriously, especially after the coaching change.
When Logan needed some advice, he turned to Laudenslager.
“He would ask us a lot about things,” said Laudenslager, who had the best scoring opportunity in the loss to Wood. “He asked what drills we liked to do. He tried to keep everything a lot like it was because that’s what we were used to doing. He made sure we were ready and kept us motivated and he worked us.”
Laudenslager came into Franklin Towne an accomplished soccer player.
He played at Philly Soccer and was a star long before he put on a Warriors jersey. But once he got to high school, everything changed.
Especially the speed of the game.
“When I became a starter, at first it was really hard,” Laudenslager said. “The biggest difference is in high school, you don’t get a lot of chances to catch your breath. The ball is always moving, and you have to move with it.
“The players are stronger, too. That was something I had to get used to. It was hard, especially against the better teams.”
But thanks to his growth, Franklin Towne didn’t become one of the better teams. They became the best team.
“It wasn’t because of me, it was because of all of us,” Laudenslager said. “Everyone helped us win.”
Laudenslager would consider playing college soccer, but he’s not too worried about his future. College is a possibility, but he’s also leaning toward another career path — a career that would put his great soccer conditioning to work.
“I think I’m going to put my name on the list to take the firefighters test,” Laudenslager said. “It’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I like helping people, it’s a good career if you want to help people.”
He’d also be up for helping Franklin Towne win next year.
There’s a chance he’ll be able to help them on the field if he has any free time.
“I think I’d like to coach when I’m older,” Laudenslager said. “I would help them next year if I had time. I’m not sure it will work out.
“They have a lot of talent coming back, they’ll be OK. They have a lot of juniors who are ready to take over.”
And as their former leader can attest to, winning a championship isn’t easy, but it’s worth all the hard work.
“I didn’t want to graduate without winning one,” Laudenslager said. “Winning it means everything. I’m so happy we finally did it.”