Penn State’s James Franklin to arrive via helicopter to watch Quinton Martin, Belle Vernon play Laurel Highlands

Friday, September 2, 2022 | 3:54 PM

James Franklin will make quite an entrance tonight at Belle Vernon.

The Penn State football coach is expected to arrive by helicopter to watch Laurel Highlands play Belle Vernon — and five-star junior Quinton Martin, the top-rated 2024 prospect in the state — at James Weir Stadium.

Belle Vernon athletic director and football coach Matt Humbert said Franklin will fly in and land on the high school parking lot before watching the game from the sidelines.

“Anything that can bring excitement to the Beach, I’m all for it,” Humbert said.

Penn State opened the season with a 35-31 win Thursday night at Purdue.

The game will mark Belle Vernon’s season and home opener. The Leopards are ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 3A and No. 2 in the state.

Penn State is strongly interested in Martin (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), a running back and defensive back who has 20 Power 5 scholarship offers. Penn State is among them.

Others include Pitt, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Florida State and others.

Laurel Highlands (1-0), of course, features another coveted prospect in senior Rodney Gallagher, who is verbally committed to West Virginia.

Gallagher moved from quarterback to receiver this season. He scored five touchdowns last week against Uniontown.

Franklin along with Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi attended a basketball game last season between Gallagher and Martin at Laurel Highlands.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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