Experienced roster has Franklin Regional boys golf excited for season
A core of returning players has Franklin Regional boys golf head coach Jeff Traphagan optimistic about the Panthers' fortunes in individual and team matches and tournaments this fall.
Sophomore Palmer Jackson, seniors Ben Peticca and Cameron Huffman and junior Clayton Skoff all advanced to the WPIAL AAA individual semifinals last year with Jackson advancing all the way to the state tournament in his first varsity season.
“We have a nice core back, and they all played a lot in the offseason,” Traphagan said.
The team began official preseason practices early Monday at Meadowink, and the lineup has taken shape over the past several days in advance of Thursday's nonsection season opener against Greensburg-Salem at 3:30 p.m. at Hannastown Golf Club.
“It will be a good experience for some of the younger players who are still getting used to playing high school golf with the rules and etiquette they need to follow above simply playing the game,” Traphagan said.
The Panthers will take part in the annual Gary Garrison Invitational on Monday at 11 a.m. at Latrobe Country Club, and Jackson is the defending champion.
Pittsburgh Central Catholic is a newcomer to Section 4-AAA this fall, and FR will host the Vikings to open section play next Tuesday at 2:25 p.m. at Meadowink.
Jackson, who placed fifth at the WPIAL AAA championships, third at the Western Regional tournament and runner-up at states as the top WPIAL representative, had a busy and successful summer on the courses.
He competed last week at the 41st Junior PGA Championship in Rhode Island after winning the Tri-State Junior PGA tournament in early July.
Jackson also placed seventh at the Westmoreland County Amateur Open on July 24.
“Palmer put in a lot of work on a lot of different parts of his game,” Traphagan said. “I was on the course with him this summer, and we talked about the little things. He has picked apart small parts of his game. He's always working on the physical and mental aspects of his game.
“He has a chance to do big things in the WPIAL and PIAA again. He saw a lot of the top guys in the WPIAL over the summer. The more rounds he gets in, the better he will be. He showed that last year.”
The other returning guys, Traphagan said, played a lot of golf over the summer on their own and in tournaments and should be improved.
Skoff shot a 74 to tie Fox Chapel's Anthony Cordaro for last year's Section 4-AAA qualifier championship.
Traphagan said they are performing well along with returning players such as junior Ethan Yohe and senior Jamie Mauro.
Franklin Regional and Fox Chapel captured the top two spots in the section last year, and both competed at the WPIAL team semifinals.
The Foxes advanced to the finals and finished runner-up to Peters Township.
Central Catholic made the WPIAL team finals and placed fourth overall.
Also in Section 4 this season are Gateway, Plum, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills.
While Central Catholic and Plum are new to the section, Kiski and Armstrong have move out.
“With the core of players we have back, we have a decent shot at getting one of the two spots in the section to make the WPIAL playoffs,” Traphagan said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.