Rival teams rally behind Franklin Regional after attack

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Two days after a mass stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School that left 20 people injured earlier this month, members of the FR boys lacrosse team traveled to the Columbus, Ohio, area for a pair of games against teams in their Midwest league.

The Panthers were greeted with a banner signed by students at Dublin Jerome High School that expressed the school's support for Franklin Regional.

Monday night, Franklin Regional played a game at Mt. Lebanon, and the Blue Devils honored the Panthers with helmet stickers, an “FR Strong” banner hanging in the stadium and a pregame announcement expressing Mt. Lebanon support for Franklin Regional.

“The support that we've received within the lacrosse community has just been exceptional,” Franklin Regional coach Dave Alexander said.

Franklin Regional teams in various sports are receiving the same kind of support as they continue their spring schedule. Whether through banners, prayer or other means, other high school teams are standing behind the Panthers.

“It's been nice to know that teams you battle on the field and go 100 percent against, when something like this happens you have the support and other teams wishing you a speedy recovery and wishing you well,” Alexander said. “It's nice.”

The various Franklin Regional teams all resumed their schedule either the weekend after the stabbing or last week. In the Franklin Regional softball team's first game back, a section game against Kiski, the Cavaliers' players wore “FR Proud” T-shirts that are being sold throughout the community. Franklin Regional softball coach Jim Armstrong said the Hempfield, Norwin and Penn-Trafford teams were all wearing ribbons in support.

“What's amazing is the support from all the teams we play,” Armstrong said. “It just makes the girls feel really good. I think that's a big part of what we are as a team this year.”

Pittsburgh Central Catholic baseball players kneeled with Franklin Regional players for a prayer at a game last week, and the Plum baseball team hung a support banner in the Franklin Regional dugout before a game against the Panthers Monday afternoon.

“It goes beyond baseball and sports,” Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. “There are close relationships between the two teams. Everyone feels for what happened there. It has had an impact on everyone. Our guys have been very sensitive to the situation. Several players have been in contact because a lot of them are good friends.”

Several Franklin Regional athletes were injured in the stabbing, with most of them out of the hospital. Alexander said sophomore player Jeff LaSalle, injured in the attack, visited with the boys lacrosse team before a game last week at Peters Township. Other teams also sent LaSalle gifts and well-wishes.

“I think that inspired (the team),” Alexander said of seeing LaSalle. The Panthers beat Peters Township, 10-6, that night, beginning a winning streak.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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