Vehicle accident keeping Franklin Regional senior on sidelines

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Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 8:27 PM


Jake Painter was on the sidelines Friday night watching his Franklin Regional teammates defeat Latrobe, 42-21.

Let’s face it; the senior would have rather been playing instead of being a spectator, but he can’t.

The three-year starter at nose guard and right guard was injured in a vehicle accident on June 1 between Export and Murrysville while returning home from work at Keystone Raceway Park in New Alexandria.

“I don’t remember the wreck at all,” Painter said. “I just remember waking up in the hospital.”

Painter said he fractured 93% of the bones in his face. About the only thing he didn’t break was his nose. He also had a gash on his left knee, some broken toes and a laceration above his eye.

Even though his air bags deployed, his face struck the windshield because he wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

“I never wore my seatbelt,” Painter said. “I will now, and I’m an advocate to wear it now. I’d probably be playing if I would have worn it.”

He spent three days in the ICU and three weeks in the hospital. His jaw was wired shut, and he lost more than 70 pounds from his then 6-foot-3, 285-pound body.

“It’s real hard for Jake,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said about missing his senior season. “He started since his sophomore season. He was getting stronger and made it through shoulder surgery.

“Jake is a great kid. It’s tough for him to be out here. We had a long talk on Thursday about days to be here. I told him he’s still part of this season. Wear the uniform and help the linemen out when they come off the field. Be a coach and he’s accepted that responsibility.”

So there he was, watching from the sideline and doing what he could to help his teammates.

“If I pick up some things from the sidelines, I’ll speak up,” Painter said. “I’ll try to help any way I can.

“We have great offensive and defensive lines. On defense, we rotate 12 players in and out. I’m going to miss playing.”

Franklin Regional scored six touchdowns Friday and the offense, which outgained Latrobe, 363-63, and rushed for 297 yards, put together five drives of more than 53 yards.

The Panthers had two players rush for more than 130 yards — Zach Gordon had 146 yards and three touchdowns and Colton Johns rushed for 131 yards and a score.

At times, the Franklin Regional offensive and defensive lines overwhelmed Latrobe, which had trouble sustaining a consistent offense against the Panthers.

Painter said he wasn’t planning on playing football in college, even though with his size some schools would likely be inquiring about him.

He will be attending a trade school to learn a craft.

“I’m happy for him,” Botta said. “It’s difficult thing for him because it’s his senior year and he’s seeing all his buddies play.”

And even though Painter was going to miss football, he said he’s hoping he can play lacrosse in the spring.

He said that would satisfy his thirst for playing football.

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

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