It may be hard to imagine a friendlier rivalry then when Peters Township and Bethel Park meet on the gridiron.
For starters, Black Hawks head coach Brian DeLallo and Indians head coach T.J. Plack coached together from 2011 to 2013 at Bethel Park.
“T.J. is one of my best friends in the coaching community,” said DeLallo, who is in his second season at the helm at BP. “He’s a great coach and a great guy.”
Plack lives in Bethel Park about a mile away from the stadium in which his Indians will play at 7 p.m. Oct. 16.
Plack’s son, Thomas, plays in the Bethel Park junior football program.
Plack attends his son’s football practices every night after his varsity practices at Peters Township and cheers for the Black Hawks.
DeLallo said this leads to some “funny interactions” between the two coaches.
“Sometimes (junior football) practices on our fields right after we finish our workouts,” DeLallo said. “So when T.J. would show up, I would jokingly yell at him to get the heck off our field.”
Yet, there is a mutual respect between programs.
“I think highly of their staff as I have first-hand knowledge of their ability when I was with them at Bethel Park,” said Plack.
Additionally Plack’s daughter, Marissa, is taught math by Mike Milliken, who is BP’s defensive line coach.
There is also a family connection between the two programs.
Logan Pfeuffer is PT’s quarterback. Pfeuffer’s mother, MaryAnn, teaches in the Bethel Park School District. His brother, RJ, played football and basketball for the Black Hawks, and is now an assistant coach at Peters after having serving on DeLallo’s staff.
“RJ was a favorite of mine,” said DeLallo, who urged the coaching staff at John Carroll University to recruit RJ. “He ended up graduating from my alma mater and coming back to coach against us.”
“So there are a lot of connection between our two programs, which makes it fun,” he added. “Of course the kids have been playing against each other since they were first allowed to put pads on. That should all make for an intense rivalry game.”
“Bethel Park is definitely a rivalry for us,” he said. “It’s exciting to play an opponent so close and that we cross over most in our other athletic teams.”
The Indians have recently dominated the battle. They won the last two match-ups by 30-7 and 35-0 scores.
“They have taken it to us pretty good,” said DeLallo. “They have great talent and tough, competitive kids. Names like (Donovan) McMillon, (Corban) Hondru and Pfeuffer stand out, but they have other great players.”
One such player, Michael Peyton, will not compete as he suffered an injury Oct. 1 after rushing for 112 yards and one score in PT’s 28-21 win over Upper St. Clair. It is uncertain if Peyton, a senior, will return this season which has been shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is definitely devastating for him at this time,” Plack said of Peyton who lost last season to a similar setback.
Both coaches predict “brighter days” ahead for Peyton.
“It’s a shame Michael got hurt because he’s a tough runner,” DeLallo said.
“I hope he rehabs and gets to continue his career in college.”
Plack said he expects Peyton to respond well to the challenge of returning to football.
“He will have our entire program, his friends and family behind him,” he said.
The Black Hawks will be looking to rebound from a 17-7 to West Allegheny. Max Blanc threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Moul for BP’s lone score.