For the second time in the past three seasons, Franklin Regional advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals with few, if any, team members playing a larger role in that run than Zanotto. The two-way threat made his largest impact on the defensive end, helping lead a unit that allowed only 10.3 points per game, the third-best mark of any Class AAA school. In the Panthers' final five regular season games, they held their opponents to a combined 19 points. He also had 649 rushing yards, averaged 6.8 yards per carry and led the team with 11 touchdowns.
Zanotto committed to Maryland in June. Before ultimately choosing the Terrapins, he held offers from Boston College, Syracuse, Temple and Toledo, among other schools.
Are you feeling good about what you all can do on defense this season? I think our defense will do very well again this season. We have about six starters returning and the rest are a bunch of very talented guys. I believe our defense is our strong point.
After what happened with the stabbing at the school in April, was it nice to get back to football and a sense of normalcy? Yes, it's very nice to get back to football after something terrible like that. The way our community, the staff at Franklin Regional and the EMS handled the whole situation was amazing. Our community is so much stronger and closer together through this tragedy. We will definitely be playing hard for our school and community this year.
Does an incident like that put life into perspective? Through the whole incident, I think what I learned the most was to not take things for granted. I am very blessed to be at a great school and to have the opportunities that I have.
Why did you choose Maryland? Overall, it was the best fit for me. They have a beautiful campus and a great marketing program. The coaching staff was very nice and enthusiastic, and the distance from Murrysville is only 31/2 hours. Everything just fit right for my family and me at Maryland.
Do you still plan on playing both ways this season? Yes, I still do. Any way I can help out my team on the offense or defense I am willing to do.
You all lost your leading passer and rusher in Charan Singh. What can we expect on offense with him having graduated? Our offense isn't as experienced as our defense this year. We have a great group of running backs and receivers. Our offensive line is very young this year, but I believe they will come together and do a very good job. I think we will be just as good as we were last year on the offensive side of the ball.
How do you think the addition of Gateway's going to impact the landscape of your conference? I think it's great for Gateway to be joining the Greater Allegheny Conference. They are always a good team and it is only going to make the conference better.
What's something people would be surprised to know about you? I can't watch scary movies. If I am at a friend's house and all of my friends decide to watch a scary movie, I will leave.
If you could have dinner with three people -- dead or alive, famous or not -- who would they be? I'd go with Will Ferrell, John Wayne and Rob Dyrdek.