Westmoreland high school football notebook: Franklin Regional gets physical

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Saturday, September 17, 2022 | 5:11 PM


Lance Getsy channeled his inner Greg Botta on Friday night.

Getsy, the Franklin Regional coach who replaced Botta, the longtime leader of the Panthers, drew up a Botta-like gameplan to pull off the upset of the night in the WPIAL, a 16-7 stunner over No. 1 Gateway in the Class 5A Big East Conference opener in Murrysville.

The plan: be punishing on both sides of the ball, play physically and don’t fear the opponent.

The words “Gateway Who?” looked back at the team on a dry-erase board in the locker room.

The Panthers hadn’t beaten Gateway since 2016.

“I used to be on (Botta’s) staff then,” Getsy said. “I always believe anything can happen. The kids are starting to think that way, too.

“This is the top game for me since I’ve been here. The kids hit and executed. Hard work paid off.”

Botta reached out to Getsy after the win.

“He is so proud of the team and excited about the program.”

Franklin Regional dominated the Gators, rushing for 268 yards on 58 carries — running back Zach Bewszka, a Mount Union commit, ran for 142 yards on 30 carries, and quarterback Roman Sarnic gained 126 yards on 29 rushes — while the defense forced four turnovers and blocked a pooch punt.

An unheralded safety net: Joey Bayne nailed field goals of 27, 34 and 22 yards in the victory.

“Sarnic was a man on the field, and Zach was a workhorse for us,” Getsy said. “Our line played well, and Ayden Hudock moved into a blocking role and was a big key to our running game.”

As for Bayne, Getsy said: “Huge. Gave us a two-score lead and allowed us to focus on the run and burn some clock. He has a bright future.”

The Panthers play Shaler next Saturday afternoon before returning to conference play.

“We want to keep winning and keep moving,” lineman Max Leven said. “My dad always talks about not letting the highs get too high or the lows get too low.”

Brown reunion

Hempfield second-year coach Mike Brown will go against his alma mater next Friday when the unbeaten Spartans welcome Penn-Trafford for a much-anticipated Class 5A Big East Conference opener.

It will be one of the most talked-about matchups in Westmoreland County in some time, and it means more because it’s a conference game.

Brown, a 2009 graduate, was a running back and quarterback at P-T under then-coach Art Tragesser.

The Spartans are 4-0 for the first time since 1971 after another one-sided win over Shaler, 48-7.

Top performers

• Raidon Kuroda moved back to quarterback for Yough and went 15 of 22 for 176 yards and an 87-yard TD pass to Antonio Marra in a 13-10 win over Derry. Yough has not won two games in a row since 2018.

• Tyvaughn Kershaw ran for three touchdowns, and Daevon Burke had a 68-yard punt return for Monessen in a 42-9 win over Bentworth.

• Adam LaCarte made 17 tackles for Belle Vernon in a 14-13 loss to Penn-Trafford.

Beached

Belle Vernon does not lose at home very often. Penn-Trafford’s 14-13 win Friday marked the Leopards’ first home loss since Sept. 7, 2018, a 36-14 setback against Thomas Jefferson.

The loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak.

Buc-ing the trend

Throw the football? Burrell will take a hard pass.

OK, a hard run. Lots of them.

The Buccaneers are running a “Slot-T” offense, an old-school formation predicated on line play.

The Bucs have rushed the ball more than 95% of the time and are averaging 278 yards on the ground.

Burrell’s traditional “Big I” is present in the playbook, with three backs directly behind the quarterback.

Heading into Friday’s game at Serra Catholic, the Bucs ran for 834 yards on 144 attempts. They completed 2 of 5 passes for 38 yards.

“It’s tough to stop, and it works for our kids,” said coach Shawn Liotta, who has published a book on the spread offense but is using a throwback offense that works against all of the spread’s principals.

In the Slot-T, two linemen usually line up to one side of the center, with three to the opposite side, including the tight end and split end.

Misdirection and deception are keys to the offense.

In the season opener against Jeannette, Burrell ran 50 times and passed once.

Liotta was named the Pittsburgh Steelers Youth Football Coach of the Week.

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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