This Week 3 matchup pits two neighboring school districts, and rivals in most other sports, against one another. And this time Peters Township thinks it has a legitimate chance of winning the game -- for good reason, too, given the Indians' 2-0 start and program-building that has gone on under second-year coach Rich Piccinini.
While the top spot in the Class AAAA Southeastern Conference will be at stake, this one intrigued me for another reason: Piccinini was an assistant at Upper St. Clair for two seasons prior to getting the Peters Township job. He knows Panthers coach Jim Render well and talks frequently not only with Render but with much of the Upper St. Clair coaching staff.
Not a bad program -- five WPIAL and two PIAA titles -- to model your own after, eh?
Another interesting link here is that Piccinini coached Upper St. Clair quarterback Pete Coughlin while the latter was a defensive back, before he came out of nowhere to fill in for an injured Dakota Conwell, lead the Panthers to an upset of nationally ranked Central Catholic in the WPIAL semifinals and a near-win in the championship game at Heinz Field.
Piccinini makes no bones about how impressed he is with Coughlin, who ran for three touchdowns in Week 1, then threw for three last week. Overall, he has completed 13 of 18 passes for 145 yards while adding 19 carries for 78 yards.
"I coached Pete as a defensive back, and I know what a super athlete he is," Piccinini said. "Pete makes their offense go. He has a great offensive line. He’s a very heady player. He’s a tough kid."
I talked to Peters Township linebacker Matt Loether earlier this week, and he echoed Piccinini's comments, that essentially this will come down to how much the Indians can keep Coughlin contained.
"The main thing is making sure we shut down the quarterback," Loether said. "Not give him any lanes or give up any long runs and keeping him guessing on what we’re doing on defense with our blitzes and everything."