Westmoreland County high school notebook: Colleges courting Franklin Regional midfielder

Sunday, August 2, 2020 | 11:04 PM

Zach Lorenz is on the path to a Division I soccer career, but he likely will have to score a scholarship with limited highlights and contact with coaches.

Covid-19 crossed out most of the annual cup season, so Lorenz, an incoming senior midfielder at Franklin Regional, was not able to go the traditional route of playing in front of top-tier scouts around the country.

The NCAA “dead” period, when coaches cannot have in-person contact with recruits, was stretched to Aug. 31.

Instead, Lorenz has resorted to web meetings or calls and has hoped his video highlights from previous years could give coaches a closer look at his talents.

So far, so good.

Despite the nontraditional methods, his recruiting is starting to heat up.

He has been in contact with schools from the ACC, Ivy League, American East, Atlantic 10, Northeast, Colonial and Patriot conferences.

“It’s been a goal ever since I entered high school to play Division I soccer,” Lorenz said. “I have had a lot of great coaches and mentors help me get to where I am now, and I just plan on getting better and proving myself more and more until the day I commit to a school.

“It would mean everything to me to make it to that next level, as it would be the first step of my real end-goal of playing beyond college soccer.”

Lorenz played with the varsity as a freshman and sophomore and became a starter last season as the Panthers won their second straight WPIAL Class 3A championship and finished 21-1-1. He had 10 goals and 16 assists

“He is one of the more technical players you’re going to see,” Franklin Regional coach Rand Hudson said. “He’s just really sound. The ball does what he wants. Every shot he takes is on target.”

New QB at Hempfield

Hempfield’s football team has the dubious task of not only replacing stat-producing running back Nate Roby, but the Spartans also need to find a new quarterback with 1,600-yard passer Blake Remaley off to college.

It appears the competition for the latter position will come down to two candidates. Senior Christian Zilli, a talented baseball player, is out for football again, while sophomore Jake Phillips is a rising talent.

Zilli played as a freshman but focused on baseball and basketball the last two years.

“We have only had a football in our hands a short time so far (this summer),” Spartans coach Rich Bowen said. “But Christian has looked good so far. He’s a very intelligent quarterback and has the skills to be a playmaker. Phillips has unlimited potential. We like both of them, so we’ll see if there will be a competition.”

As for Roby’s replacement, Bowen expects senior Mario Perkins, who battled an injury last season, to take over most of the carries.

Colbert moving to OC

Longtime Saint Vincent football coach Bob Colbert, now on his son Bret’s staff at Greensburg Central Catholic, will be the Centurions’ offensive coordinator this season. The younger Colbert was his father’s OC at Saint Vincent for three years.

The pair have been virtually inseparable on the gridiron for years.

“I learned calling games from him,” Bret said. “He was OC at James Madison, UMass, my old high school for a year and at Bridgewater and Saint Vincent. The goals for each game that he established have a direct correlation to winning games. He has my 100 percent confidence and 100 percent of the wheel.

“And now, I don’t have to hear him sigh on the headset when he doesn’t like my play call.”

Cox coaching

Former Jeannette standout Demetrious Cox, who starred at Michigan State and had a brief stint in the NFL, is an assistant coach with West Mifflin.

Cox most recently played in the rebooted XFL with the New York Guardians before the league suspended operations in April.

Sasko Tournament changed

Officials decided to make the annual Paul Sasko Kickoff Classic soccer tournament at Belle Vernon a varsity-only event.

But the classic could be in jeopardy with the WPIAL setting the opening games for soccer to Sept. 17.

The tournament, initially set for Sept. 5-6 at James Weir Stadium, features the Belle Vernon, Monessen, Allderdice, Brashear and Gateway boys, and the Belle Vernon, Hempfield, Ringgold and Baldwin girls teams.


Norwin baseball player Zach Potthoff will continue his playing career at Division III Swarthmore Delaware County. Potthoff is a pitcher and second baseman and plays for Team All-American in the summer.

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

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