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CoGo's Feature Matchup: Indiana at Franklin Regional

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On the heels of two straight wins, the Franklin Regional Panthers are looking to improve to 3-1 Friday night as welcome the Indiana Little Indians (2-1) to Panther Stadium.

The Panthers are following up on a very successful 2013 season in which they earned a share of the section championship and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals before falling to eventual champion West Allegheny. 

Head coach Greg Botta has been very happy with his team’s success so far this season, after losing a majority of the starters to graduation, including quarterback Charan Singh and wide receiver Colin Jonov.

“I am very proud and pleased with where they are at,” said Botta. “I was very apprehensive going into the season because of the number of seniors we lost and the fact that we are in such a strong conference. But I am very proud of the kids and their fight.”

The Panthers only loss came in the opener against a strong Knoch team. Running back/linebacker Brett Zanotto was forced the Knoch game due to a shoulder injury, but since then the Panthers have victories over both Hollidaysburg and Mars.

Zanotto, a Maryland recruit, has returned to the lineup and has been coming up big for the Panthers. He recorded 63 rushing yards in a hard-fought 21-15 win over Mars last week and put together an all-star effort two weeks ago against Hollidaysburg. Zanotto had a team-best 156 yards on 16 carries and touchdown runs of 44, 17, and 3 yards in addition to being name offensive player of the game as the Panthers won handily, 33-7.

Friday’s game looms large for both teams as they are fighting each other for the second spot in the Greater Allegheny Conference, behind current front-runner Hampton (3-0).

Botta has been particularly concerned with preparing the Panthers defense for Indiana’s explosive offense. 

“They always have been a one dimensional team running the ball, but now they can throw the ball as well,” said Botta.  

Indiana junior quarterback Jacob Zilinskas has experience and size at the wide receiver position. Six-foot-five Riley Stapleton caught 55 passes for 702 yards as a junior and poses a big threat to the Panthers, according to Botta.

“We are preparing differently because of their type of offense,” Botta explained. “We know they will try and exploit our small corners.”

As the season progresses, each game becomes increasingly more important. That’s life in the Greater Allegheny Conference.

“Every game in this conference is a fight for a playoff spot,” Botta said.

The Panthers are hoping to boost their playoff chances against the Little Indians at 7 p.m.Franklin Regional Football
Aug. 29 Quaker Valley 25 - Keystone Oaks 19
Sept. 5 Knoch 19 - Greensburg Salem 14
Sept. 12 Chartiers-Houston 21 - Western Beaver 14
Sept. 19 Indiana at Franklin Regional
Sept. 26 Mount Pleasant at Washington
Oct. 3 Gateway at Mars
Oct. 10 Carlynton at South Park
Oct. 17 Plum at Penn Trafford
Oct. 24 Bethel Park at Baldwin

Tonight’s game is the Pittsburgh Sports Report and CoGo's Feature Matchup. Students and fans, be sure to take plenty of pictures and Tweet them to @PghSportsReport #HSFootball. The best photos will appear online after the game!

Click here for full season coverage of the CoGo's Feature Matchup.

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