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Plum, Bethel Park ready to clash

| Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 9:10 p.m.

The Plum varsity football team opened the past two seasons against rival Franklin Regional.

The Panthers and Mustangs kicked things off six times in nonconference fashion between 2004 and 2011.

But when the WPIAL changed the alignment in Quad-A and reduced the conferences from four to three, the conferences got bigger and things changed as far as who Plum could schedule for week one.

As a result, Franklin Regional exited Plum's schedule in week one in favor of Bethel Park, and the two members of the new Quad Central Conference will do battle Friday at 7 p.m. at Plum Mustangs Stadium.

“It's a little strange not having a couple of nonconference games at the start of the season,” Plum head coach Frank Sacco said.

“Usually, those games were good to get kids into situations and see how they would do. Now, with the new conference format, you have to come out with guns loaded. But we've made good progress in the practices and scrimmages, and the kids are excited for Friday.”

Plum is 6-6 in season openers since 2000.

The Mustangs will try to get this campaign off to a better start than last season when Franklin Regional came to Plum and handed the Mustangs a 55-0 defeat.

Two years ago, Plum scored an emotional 27-21 road victory over the Panthers, and that kicked off a season which ended with a 6-4 record and a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.

Plum gave Franklin Regional a battle in the 2005 opener before falling, 21-12.

The Panthers went on to complete a 15-0 season and capture WPIAL and PIAA titles.

Bethel Park enters Friday's game with new starters at key skill positions, as the Blackhawks' leading passer, running back and receiver graduated.

One of the bigger offensive tackle tandems in the WPIAL resides in Bethel Park in the form of 6-foot-7, 315-pound junior Mike Grimm and 6-4, 315-pound junior right tackle Casey Schreiner.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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