All-Star football game helps Franklin Regional move on in wake of school stabbings
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If Greg Botta could have been at Franklin Regional on Sunday to witness a football practice, he likely would have been there early and stayed late.
Botta, Franklin Regional's longtime football coach, loves the Murrysville community — and like others, he's ramped up his appreciation for it after the April 9 stabbings at the school.
“You've got to move forward,” Botta said.
One of his young players, linebacker Nate Moore, was among those injured that morning, when sophomore Alex Hribal allegedly slashed and stabbed 21 people in a hallway.
“Nate was on the field last night,” Botta said, referring to an informal team workout last week. “He came up to me and said, ‘Coach, this is the only place I want to be.' ”
It is yet another sign of solidarity in a community trying to move on.
Moore, who will be a junior at Franklin Regional next season, wasn't selected to play in the 13th annual Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association East/West All-Star Game on Sunday at that same field, but two of his senior teammates — quarterback Charan Singh and wide receiver Colin Jonov — are on the West roster.
You can bet, too, that it's the only place Botta wants to be, right alongside guys like Moore, preparing for the start of another Franklin Regional football season.
But Botta, the PSFCA game manager, couldn't be there Sunday for the West team's practice because he was in Harrisburg as an assistant coach for a Pennsylvania team workout in advance of the annual Big 33 Football Classic against a Maryland team June 14 in Hershey.
Yet Botta said his home field and the community he loves never left his mind.
Welcome to Franklin Regional
Imagine living hundreds of miles from the site of the stabbings at Franklin Regional. Then, imagine reading about the tragic accounts from afar.
And then, just imagine going to Franklin Regional and preparing to play in an all-star football game there.
That is the way it is for many of those who were selected to participate in the PSFCA event. Even the players from nearby schools come with questions. Even if they had played a game in the past at Franklin Regional, in their minds now, it isn't the same setting.
Imagine the players on the East team who are from schools hours and hours away. The East team was practicing at Downingtown West in Chester County and won't go to Franklin Regional until this weekend.
“There will be intrigue, no question,” Botta said. “But it didn't take us long as a school to know that we were going to move forward with the game. There was no hesitation on anybody's mind.”
There shouldn't be any tentativeness for the visitors either, he said.
Singh, who is committed to Massachusetts as a cornerback but will play quarterback in the PSFCA game, hopes Franklin Regional will be a comfortable draw for some of the state's top football players.
“Of course, the other players look at the situation here as weird,” Singh said, “but I know that I am just going to welcome those guys in here, and we'll all be looking to play a good game.”
The signs of solidarity are everywhere at Franklin Regional, “a very prideful school and community,” said West coach Pat Monroe, who coaches at South Allegheny.
“They're going through an awful lot here,” Monroe said. “They want to have this game without forgetting what happened, but they want to move in a positive direction. This is a demonstration of that, bringing some of the greatest players in the state together to set a positive example of what they have achieved and how they want to represent their own schools.”
It is, indeed, yet another way of getting in step with the Franklin Regional community, where hundreds of people have come together to pray and rally for solidarity in recent weeks.
“Everything that we do now, we want to show not only Murrysville, but the WPIAL and the state, that you've got to move forward,” Botta said.
Monroe, a Pennsylvania team assistant coach at the 2007 Big 33 Classic, can't wait to take his team into the PSFCA East/West All-Star Game.
“It's exciting to get together with a group of accomplished young men with a genuine focus of wanting to win the football game,” Monroe said. “They want to represent the western side of the state with pride. The competition on that field is the key to this thing. We're trying to get some cohesiveness here in a short period of time.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
- Clairton captures 12th WPIAL football championship
- WPIAL Class AAA notes: Title games draw 16,500 to Heinz Field
- WPIAL Class A notes: Return sparks Clairton for 2nd straight week
- WPIAL Class AAAA notes: P-T unable to snap playoff skid vs. Central Catholic
- WPIAL Class AAA final preview: Big-play passing attack paying off for defending WPIAL champion Central Valley
- WPIAL Class AA notes: South Fayette’s Saxton sets WPIAL finals record
- Clairton among greatest WPIAL dynasties; Aliquippa, South Fayette close
- Karns City tops Bedford in state football playoffs