Franklin Regional regrouping after tough loss
One game into the season, Franklin Regional finds itself doing something it hasn't had to do since October 2010 — bounce back from a loss.
Franklin Regional was beaten by Mars in its first game of the season, 21-17, in a battle of ranked Greater Allegheny Conference teams, and that puts the Panthers in the unfamiliar position of looking up from the bottom of the standings.
The last time Franklin Regional lost a regular-season or conference game was Oct. 22, 2010, when it dropped a 24-13 decision to Ringgold. Last week's win moved Mars (1-0, 1-0) from sixth to fifth in the Tribune-Review's Class AAA rankings, while Franklin Regional (0-1, 0-1), the preseason No. 2 team, fell to No. 6.
But rankings aren't what matters to the Panthers, who know there is a long season ahead. They hope to get back on track against Indiana (0-1, 0-1) at home Friday at 7 p.m. Indiana lost its opening game, 45-21, at home against Hampton.
“We're going to go into the film room and correct mistakes,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said.
“We're going to work on character. This is a character-building time. There's a lot of pressure on this team and a lot of expectations, but we didn't do anything, yet. We haven't earned anything.”
Botta said his long-term goals are still to make a push for a conference title, and most importantly, have his team prepared for the playoffs.
To do that, there are a number of things that need to be corrected, including solidifying a run defense that allowed 164 yards to Mars running back Josh Schultheis. That total is more than FR gave up to any single back in 2011 except one, WPIAL career rushing record holder Rushel Shell of Hopewell.
The Panthers also need to be more consistent in the passing game, as FR completed only one pass in the game, albeit a 52-yard scoring strike from Nico Lodovico to Colin Jonov.
But there also were positives to be taken from the loss to Mars. Franklin Regional finished with 266 rushing yards, including 178 by Dane Brown and 53 by Nick Vento, who provided an excellent second option as the Planets' defense tried to focus on Brown.
“I'm happy with our offensive line. I thought they did real well, and we ran the ball well,” Botta said. “Defensively, we did things well at times, but we just weren't consistent with what we did. We just have to be more consistent in all three aspects of the game if we're going to be contenders in this conference.”
Franklin Regional dug itself a hole against Mars by falling behind in the second quarter, 14-0. Alex Smith caught a 38-yard scoring pass from Owen Nearhoof to put the Planets on the board on their first drive, and Schultheis scored on a 1-yard run to extend the lead.
Schultheis nearly had a touchdown in the first quarter, as well, but Charan Singh stripped the ball from him at the 3-yard line, and Ryan Furr recovered for Franklin Regional. It was one of three turnovers Singh was involved in for the Panthers' defense, as he also caught a pair of interceptions on balls tipped by teammates.
FR got on the board with a 2-yard run by Brown with 29 seconds left in the first half, and the Panthers tied the game on their lone completion.
Brent Velasquez, making his kicking debut for the Panthers, knocked home a 26-yard field goal with 8:56 left in the game for a 17-14 lead, but Mars took the lead for good after a long kickoff return by Smith set up Schultheis for a 2-yard score with 5:44 to play.
“We had to try and stop the things (Mars) does well, and we did at times,” Botta said. “But we gave up some big plays, where usually we don't give them up.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or email@example.com.
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.
- Firefighters extinguish fire that damages 6 cabs at Yellow Cab Co.
- Police identify driver in North Side crash that killed pregnant woman
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Rare surgery helps woman beat paralysis
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Starkey: Rutherford will add when timing’s right
- Defying the odds makes this Thanksgiving particularly poignant
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches 800 career points
- Boyce Park to open ski season Friday
- Turkey Trot runners turn out to burn calories despite chilly Pittsburgh temps
- Media websites hacked by Syrian Electronic Army