Penn-Trafford, Franklin Regional set for border battle

Thursday, October 22, 2020 | 5:47 PM

It doesn’t matter what the records are. When Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional meet on the football field, expect a great game.

The teams have met the last four years with Penn-Trafford winning the past three contests, including a 21-0 victory in 2019.

“Both teams get excited to play,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “It’s a border war.”

No. 4 Penn-Trafford (4-1, 3-0) travels to Murrysville to face Franklin Regional (4-2, 2-2) in a Class 5A Big East Conference contest. Penn-Trafford is almost assured a playoff spot, but if Franklin Regional pulls off the upset, it too has a case to be considered for a wild-card berth.

It won’t be easy for the Panthers. They might not have the services of two starters: running back Brandon Zanotto and tight end/linebacker Luke Reppermund. Both were injured in the Panthers’ win against Latrobe, and Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta is unsure of their status.

The teams started playing in 1972, the first year that Penn Joint and Trafford became one. The Warriors won the first meeting, 37-14. In fact, they won the first three matchups.

“We’re still fighting for a playoff spot,” Botta said. “We’ll be ready for a battle. It’s always a tough, physical contest.”

Penn-Trafford sure didn’t play Penn-Trafford defensive football the first half of last Friday’s game against Connellsville.

Falcons’ running back Ky’Ron Craggette ran at will, rushing for 219 yards and four touchdowns, as Connellsville forged a 28-28 tie at halftime.

But Ruane and his staff made a few adjustments and things were back to normal in the second half. The Warriors scored 36 consecutive points en route to a 64-28 victory. Craggette only picked up another 21 yards.

“They are very good,” Botta said. “You saw what they did to Connellsville in the second half. It was no contest.”

Quarterback Ethan Carr passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns, two going to Brad Ford. He also rushed for two scores and intercepted a pass.

“We made the necessary adjustments at halftime and the players responded,” Ruane said. “Credit Connellsville. They came ready to play.

“This is a big game for us. We need to win and hopefully the WPIAL football committee will give us a home game. Franklin Regional throws the ball well and has some playmakers.”

Franklin Regional has skill players to match anyone, according to Botta. Leading the way is quarterback Trevor Brncic and wide receivers Mario Sarnic and Jeffrey Downs, who has four touchdown catches in the last two games.

What hurts the Panthers is their youth on the offensive and defensive lines. They had a starting tackle move to Texas with his family after the Connellsville game three weeks ago.

It’s just been one of those years for the Panthers.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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