George Guido: Franklin Regional hitting the road
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 | 3:48 PM
If you’re a Franklin Regional football fan, you hopefully caught last Friday’s home win over Latrobe.
That’s because the Panthers won’t play another home game for six weeks.
Yes, Franklin Regional is on the road for the next two weeks, then has an open date on the schedule created by the departure of Albert Gallatin from WPIAL football. There will be two more road games before closing the regular season at home against rivals McKeesport and Penn-Trafford.
It means Franklin Regional has just three home games this season. The school is attempting to make the WPIAL playoffs for a 16th consecutive season.
“We tried to get a fourth home game,” coach Greg Botta said. “We talked to a team from Ohio, a team from Philly, but it fell trough.”
What impact does the lack of home games make as the Panthers attempt to extend that streak?
“I feel bad for the seniors,” Botta said. “But they are saying if we can get a home playoff game, that’s a goal.”
Since the Sept. 21 Shaler game is on a Saturday, it would have given the Panthers one less day to prepare for WPIAL contender Gateway.
Added Botta: “Plus, you see in the pros and the colleges, a bye week helps the banged-up players heal.”
Franklin Regional is off to a 2-0 start and is well on its way to a 16th straight winning season — all under Botta’s leadership.
Back in 1965, Oakmont had just three home games — but it didn’t stop the Oaks from winning the WPIAL title.
In fact, coach Chuck Wagner’s team that season played the first four games on the road before getting to play before the home crowd at beautiful Riverside Park.
While Franklin Regional has few home-field outings this year, 3-0 Knoch will travel for the first time this season when it plays at Highlands Friday.
It’s been one of the Alle-Kiski Valley’s top rivalries over the past 35 years from both a geographic and competitive view.
The all-time series is 19-15 in favor of Knoch, and the underdog team has usually done well.
The series began in 1984 when both schools were members of the Greater Allegheny Conference.
This weekend will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Clarion University’s rise to the top of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.
The Golden Eagles will square off against Lock Haven at 1 p.m.
The university’s reunion will include several team members from the Alle-Kiski Valley, among them Rob Erdeljac, a quarterback from the 1965 Oakmont team mentioned earlier in this column.
Also on the Clarion guest list is Bob Oberdorf, currently Leechburg’s baseball coach, and former Kiski Area standout Ron Corcetti.
There’s little doubt that nearby Summit Academy (0-3, 0-1) has one of the tougher WPIAL football schedules.
Thus far, the school for court-adjudicated youth has played 2-1 Western Beaver, 3-0 Apollo-Ridge and 3-0 Washington, the Trib’s No. 1 Class 2A team that also won the school’s 700th game.
Saturday, the Knights play No. 2-ranked Burgettstown (3-0) and will visit East Allegheny (2-1) the following week. East Allegheny defeated defending WPIAL champ Steel Valley.
Then, Summit will play No. 5-ranked Avonworth.
The buzz-saw of a schedule, however, doesn’t faze new Summit coach Joe Marek, who replaced the retired Steve Sherer during the off-season.
“It’s not an easy schedule,” Marek said. “You wouldn’t be called athletes if you didn’t like competition, right? If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best; that’s how you get better.”
To make matters tougher, because of the nature of the school, Summit didn’t have one player from last year’s team returning.