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WPIAL Class AAA semifinal preview: West Allegheny vs. Franklin Regional

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 10:06 p.m.

Class AAA Semifinals

No. 1 West Allegheny (11-0) vs. No. 4 Franklin Regional (10-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at North Allegheny

West Allegheny coach Bob Palko has a different opinion of the Greater Allegheny Conference than some.

As he prepares his team for a third consecutive WPIAL Class AAA playoff game against a team from the Greater Allegheny conference — a semifinal-round battle against conference co-champion Franklin Regional — Palko said the conference is a lot stronger than people think.

“People say the Parkway Conference is pretty strong and I agree, but the Greater Allegheny Conference has a lot of tough teams,” Palko said. “Franklin Regional is good, very good.

“They have a lot of talented, skilled players, and their defense is physical and sound. They're hitting on all cylinders.”

But so is West Allegheny, according to Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta.

“They're a very fundamentally sound football team,” Botta said. “They execute better than any team we've faced. They're close to flawless.”

Both teams are similar in their approach to the game. Both run the wildcat, different running backs and play aggressive defense.

Last week against West Mifflin, Franklin Regional's defense allowed Jimmy Wheeler to rush for 226 yards. But when the Panthers needed a stop, the defense, led by linebackers Kevin Slezak, Nate Fleck and Brett Zanotto, made the stops.

“They run 61 different formations,” Botta said. “But they run only six or seven plays, and they do it well.”

— Paul Schofield

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