Bethel Park football coach Brian DeLallo and his counterpart at Peters Township, T.J. Plack, like to make a friendly wager before their teams face off.
When the Black Hawks and Indians meet for a key Allegheny Six Conference clash at 7 p.m. Oct. 15, the victorious coach may just leave with his wallet a little more flush with cash and an order from Big Shot Bob’s House of Wings in his future.
Peters Township has won the past three years by a combined score of 110-14 on its way to the conference championship.
“I hope this year, he is buying the chicken wings and not me,” DeLallo said of his friend and coaching rival, Plack.
For his part, Plack downplays factors that contribute extra interest in this Friday’s game.
In addition to the bond he solidified when he coached with DeLallo from 2011-13, Plack is a Bethel Park resident and his son, Thomas, plays football and lacrosse for the youth teams in the community.
Of the battle between the neighboring rivals, Plack said, “It does add intrigue to the game in my household but that is about it.
“Bethel Park is a difficult team to play because they are well coached, they have players that believe in their program from the youth level up,” he added. “Their players are hungry and improving each week.”
The Indians took a step backward two weeks ago when they dropped their conference opener to Upper St. Clair, 31-3. Lone highlights in the loss were a 37-yard field goal by Andrew Massucci, a 119-yard passing effort from Sam Miller and seven-catch, 104-yard receiving performance by Jacob Macosko.
“Too many missed assignments,” Plack said of the loss. “We need to get better at paying attention to detail. We need our guys to make plays on the field.”
PT’s top concerns against Bethel Park are quarterback Max Blanc, running back Troy Volpatti — along with an offensive and defensive line that is ever improving thanks to the additions of Jake Brown and Anthony Celletti.
A sophomore, Brown made his first start in a 26-10 win against West Allegheny. A senior, Celletti made the move from offense to defense and played his first full game at nose tackle against West-A.
“Jake and Anthony played well,” DeLallo said. “They both did nice jobs.”
Against West Allegheny, Volpatti rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown, measuring 62 yards. Blanc sneaked in for a pair of one-yard scores while Jason Spencer and Jack Kirchner also rushed for touchdowns.
Volpatti leads the Black Hawks in rushing and scoring. He ranks second on the team in receiving.
A Youngstown State commit, Blanc ranks seventh among the WPIAL’s leaders with more than 1,000 yards passing.
After defeating West Allegheny, DeLallo said things are coming together for the Black Hawks, who were winless last season.
“It was a great team win and there was lots of credit to go around,” he said. “We made big special teams. We had only two penalties and no turnovers. If we can do that, we are hard to beat.”
In the past three years, the Indians capturing three conference titles and reaches the WPIAL Class 5A championship contest twice.
Although the Indians lost marquee players in Donovan McMillan to Florida and Corban Hondru to Miami of Ohio, they retain linemen that have made them an elite program, DeLallo said.
Nico Pate, a 6-1, 225-pound senior, is tough to block, DeLallo said.
“Peters has been very good up front the past few years. It’s no different this year,” he said. “Defensively, they do a lot of stemming and pre-snap movement that can hurt an offense. They have a unique defensive scheme and they play it well, so they are very difficult to prepare for.
“Offensively,” DeLallo continued. “TJ is a great game planner and playcaller. You have to show multiple looks, because if you just sit in your base defense, their coaching staff will figure it out and find ways to get big plays. As I say most weeks, I think the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. If we minimize penalties and don’t turn it over, we’ll have a chance to win.”
Plack concurred and added that because it is a home game for the Black Hawks, the pressure is on them.
“We will drive down the road, play loose, physical and fast,” Plack said. “We need to take care of the football. In the games we’ve lost, we have been behind in the turnover ratio. That leads to points and momentum going to our opponent.”