Young Franklin Regional boys golf team shows depth with key victories

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Saturday, September 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM


How deep is the Franklin Regional boys golf team’s lineup?

Good enough for coach Jeff Traphagen to take his second team to a tri-match Aug. 30, and earn wins over Gateway, 200-227, and Woodland Hills, 200-310.

With the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament set for the following day, and coming off the team’s huge victory against Central Catholic, 188-192, on Aug. 28, Traphagen decided to keep his top golfers home to practice for the country tournament.

After a 7-5 season in 2022 and with the graduation of Nolan Shilling, Traphagen said he liked what was returning to the lineup.

He starts two juniors — Liam Copeland and Luke Anderchak — and three sophomores — Jose Balza, Colin Holt and Dylan Mauser. Holt reached the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals a year ago.

“I don’t have a No. 1,” Traphagen said. “All five are capable of going low. In the win against Central Catholic, we throw out a 39 and that was Holt. I actually threw out a Palmer Jackson score one time.”

Jackson is attending Notre Dame for a fifth season and thinking about turning pro.

The others vying for the sixth spot in the lineup are juniors Nolan Savinda, Ethan Raver and Mitchell Murray.

Franklin Regional is 6-0 in Section 4 and 6-1 overall. It dropped a close nonsection match to Mars.

“Coming into the season I though Central Catholic, Plum and Kiski Area would be the teams to beat in the section,” Traphagen said. “In the WPIAL it was Peters Township, Fox Chapel and Central Catholic.

“Defeating Central Catholic showed the players what they are capable of. I just want them to continue to grow because it will set us up for next season. We just need to be consistent.”

Traphagen added a new junior varsity coach a year ago in Troy Williams, who runs Hot Shot Golf Academy in the South Hills.

Adding him has helped the program grow, Traphagen said.

“We have to stay focused, not get into trouble and make putts,” Traphagen said. “If we continue to do that, we’ll be tough to beat. We still have a lot of big matches ahead of us.”

After the county tournament, the Panthers still have tough road matches at Plum, Kiski Area and Central Catholic.

“I’d like to qualify for the playoffs,” Traphagen said, “but we still have a challenge ahead of us.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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