It's no surprise to see Franklin Regional and Montour as entries in the WPIAL Class AAA football bracket.
"This is our 10th consecutive year in the playoffs," Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. "This is what the kids and coaches work so hard for: A chance to prove themselves in the playoffs."
Montour is making its seventh consecutive postseason appearance. The Spartans finished fifth in the Parkway Conference and enter the playoffs as a No. 13 seed with a 5-4 record.
"It's good to be back in the playoffs, but we're not as good as we've been in past years," Montour coach Lou Cerro said. "The main reason for that is our youth. We will have eight underclassmen starting on each side of the ball."
Franklin Regional is seeded No. 4 after tying for the Greater Allegheny Conference title with Mars Area. The Panthers boast an 8-1 record, with their only loss coming to Highlands.
"I have a lot of respect for Lou [Cerro]," Botta said. "It's a privilege to play them in the first round. They always have a very physical team and this year is no different. Their 5-4 record is deceiving."
Botta also has "a lot of respect for the Parkway Conference."
"There are a lot of good teams in the Parkway Conference. They beat each other up during the regular season," Botta said. "It's similar to the Greater Allegheny Conference."
Franklin Regional is averaging 33.1 points per game with Charan Singh calling the signals. Singh has been a double-threat as a runner and passer in the Panthers offense. Singh has completed 47 of 89 passes for 600 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for 505 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries.
"Charan is not a great passer, but he has a knack for coming up with the big play when we need it," Botta said. "He's also a threat to run the ball, which makes him more dangerous."
Singh is joined in the backfield by tailback Paul Emanuele and fullback Brett Zanotto. Emanuele has 593 yards and five touchdowns on 111 carries. Zanotto has 448 yards and 10 touchdowns on 59 carries. Tailback Dom Giannangeli has contributed 230 yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries.
"I would use [Zanotto] a lot more if he wasn't so valuable on defense," Botta said. "He's our main linebacker, the reason why we've been so strong on defense. I can't take a chance on him getting hurt."
Singh's favorite targets have been wide receivers Colin Jonov and Casey Colagrande. Jonov has 16 receptions for 285 yards and five touchdowns. Colagrande has 14 receptions, 192 yards, and two touchdowns.
"Greg [Botta] likes to pound the ball with his running game," Cerro said. "They have three different kids who run the ball and a quarterback who is also a threat to run."
Montour is led by quarterback Tynen Greer and fullback Cole Macek. Greer has completed 65 of 139 passes for 1,016 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for 671 yards and 11 touchdowns on 102 carries. Macek has rushed for 602 yards and seven touchdowns on 143 carries. He also has eight catches for 23 yards and a touchdown.
"Greer is the key to Montour's offense," Botta said. "He's a good passer, and also a threat to run."
Greer's favorite targets are receivers D.J. Payne and Tyler Carswell. Payne has 23 receptions for 509 yards and five touchdowns. Carswell has 16 receptions, 231 yards and two touchdowns.
The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Franklin Regional's Panther Stadium in Murrysville.
"It' a huge advantage and convenience for Franklin Regional to be at home," Cerro said. "It's going to take us more than an hour to get there, but we're going to be ready to play. The key for us is to avoid mistakes. We've been committing too many penalties."