Coach (season, record): Dave Smith (8th season, 30-40)
2010 overall record: 3-7
2010 region record (place): 1-5 (sixth)
2010 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Nick Turk, Jesse Depietro, Brandon Laing, Randell Wilson
Top returning players: Nolan Hall, Colin Bittner, Nick Fiorentino, Jake Docherty
Assistant coaches: Fred Blackhurst, Bill Schwabenbauer, Ray Beers, Matt Siembida, Bill Heber, Dave Frawley, Dick McIntyre, Gary Henry, Bay Lawrence
Outlook: After taking a step back with a one-win season in 2009, Franklin looks to keep its program on the upswing after winning three games last year. The Knights relied heavily on their passing attack in recent history, but the strength of this year’s team will be the rushing attack. Franklin has a solid offensive line and talented running backs behind it. Nolan Hall, Colin Bittner and Nick Fiorentino all return on the line but the Knights will have replace all-region lineman Nick Turk, who was a captain last year and voted team Most Valuable Player. Franklin also lost defensive MVP Jesse Depietro, top rusher Randell Wilson and top receiver Brandon Laing.
The Knights used a bevy of running backs last season and will have plenty to turn to this fall. Romeo Cooley ran for 334 yards on 48 carries and four touchdowns last season, while Adie Dahl returns after running for 139 yards and one TD. Quarterback Nick Billingsley had a solid junior year with 998 passing yards and 12 touchdowns and provides plenty of leadership to the young Knights. Franklin will have to develop a few targets for Billingsley in camp. Laing and Jim Waters were the Knights’ top receivers last year, but both have graduated. Dillon King and Steven Marshall each had decent seasons and could step into heavier roles.
The biggest key for Franklin this season could be the defense. The Knights allowed 474 points in 10 games last season, including 91 and 77 points in individual games. If Franklin can limit what other teams can do on offense, the Knights could continue to improve. There won’t be any easy games in September for Franklin, including road games at Central Tech, Slippery Rock and DuBois along with a brutal home opener against Grove City and a rivalry showdown with Oil City.
3 at Central Tech 7
9 at Slippery Rock* 7
16 Grove City* 7
23 at DuBois* 7
30 Oil City* 7
7 Warren 7
14 Corry* 7
21 Titusville 7
28 at Meadville* 7
4 at General McLane 7
Monday: General McLane
– Tom Reisenweber