Franklin Regional athletes have unprecedented run of success in fall season

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Saturday, November 28, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Franklin Regional decided the best way to navigate a pandemic during a sports season was to keep playing — and keep winning.

The fall sports season, which lived in the shadow of covid-19, turned out to be one for the mantle at Franklin Regional.

A number of teams celebrated lengthy playoff runs, some that were historic in scope.

While 2020 will be viewed as sinister in so many ways, Franklin Regional might wax nostalgic about the fun it had in the fall.

“It was an amazing season that we thought wasn’t going to happen,” said Panthers volleyball coach Mike Feorene, whose team won its first WPIAL championship and finished as the runner-up in the state in Class 3A. “This team overcame the odds and took this program to a new level. This year was tough on these kids, but the memories they made this season will erase many of negatives they had to endure.”

The boys golf team also made the best of its first trip to the WPIAL finals, capturing a district title and advancing to the PIAA tournament for the first time.

The boys soccer team continued its run of success, reaching the WPIAL championship for the third straight year while producing 12 shutouts. Only WPIAL champions made the PIAA playoffs, which left many wondering what the Panthers might have done in a traditional state tournament.

Junior Anthony DiFalco was named the WPIAL Class 3A Player of the Year and garnered all-state honors. He joined senior teammates Blake Cooper, Cole Kaforey, Luke Kimmich and Zach Lorenz as All-WPIAL selections.

In addition, the girls soccer and girls golf teams made the WPIAL playoffs.

Girls soccer players Sydney Lindeman, Sydney Caldwell and Syndey Kranick made the All-WPIAL team.

“We’re just so very pleased to be able to play this year and in a season,” boys golf coach Jeff Traphagen said. “Just so happy that all of the work these boys put in paid dividends in individual and team hardware.”

Senior golfer Chuck Tragesser finished second at the PIAA Class AAA individual championship.

Like all schools in the state, Franklin Regional had safety protocols in place and teams followed them, allowing for a mostly smooth season. There were no shutdowns of sports programs like other schools in Westmoreland County had, and teams stretched into the postseason.

The cooperation of coaches, players and administrators allowed for the season to reach its finish line.

“Being a teacher, coach and parent at the school, it was so great to have a season for so many of our students … to give some reality to goals that they have worked so hard to achieve,” Traphagen said. “It was a great season to be a Panther.”

Feorene had two players, senior middle blocker Aly Kindelberger (first team) and senior libero Alexa Feorene (second team) make the WPIAL Class 3A all-stars.

“It goes without saying that all the teams at Franklin Regional should be proud of all their accomplishments in the fall,” Feorene said. “If any year showed the importance of being part of a team and how a group of coaches found the true potential of all their players, this was it.”

Franklin Regional athletic director Zach Kessler said getting through the fall was no easy task, and it was only made bearable and viable through constant communication and cooperation.

“When we met to begin planning for fall sports, we truly had no idea what we were getting into,” Kessler said. “We definitely had those moments where we looked at each and said, ‘How are we going to pull this off?’ We certainly made our long-range plans but since things changed so often, our priority was to focus on each day as it came.

“I am fortunate to be surrounded with a wonderful group of people that are making these athletic seasons possible. Our sports medicine staff, school nurses, district administration and school physician have been invaluable throughout. Also, our coaches, student-athletes and parents really deserve a great deal of credit.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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