Seneca Valley High School offensive coordinator Bob Plante nearly quit coaching this year so he could watch his son, Brandon, play football for Urbana High School. But Brandon, knowing how much Bob loves to coach, convinced his father to stay on the job.
“I don’t think either one of us during that conversation,” Bob said, “ever thought we’d be here.”
Here is the 3A West Region championship game with Seneca Valley hosting Urbana at 7 p.m. Friday. Not only are the Plantes facing off, Seneca Valley coach Fred Kim also has a son on Urbana.
“Only, really, in our own nightmares and in jokes had we thought this would ever happen,” Kim said.
Kim is having a bit easier time reconciling the dilemma, because his son, J.P., is a sophomore call-up from junior varsity for the playoffs and not expected to play much. But Brandon is a starting cornerback and key member of the defense Bob is game-planning against.
“It’s unnatural,” Bob said. “Every son should be with his father, every father with his son.”
On the other hand, Brandon — nicknamed “Bumpy” — is looking forward to the matchup. He said it would be like their table tennis rivalry, a “competitive game” that he said he wins over his father more often than not.
“Did he really say that?” Bob said. “Bumpy, OK. Let me tell you about Bumpy. His dad has been letting him win since he was a baby. Otherwise, he’d quit the game.
“Bumpy has never beaten me. If he told you differently, he’s cheating you. Tell him I’ve got the edge all the time. I’m dad. I always win.”
There will be no letting the other side win Friday.
Kim said he spoke with Urbana coach Ryan Hines to clear the air, but Kim joked that when his coaches met at his house Sunday — offense in basement and defense in the family room — J.P. would be “all the way upstairs to his sister’s room on the fourth level.”
For the Plantes, separating their gameplans won’t be so easy. As an infant, Brandon used to sit on Bob’s lap while he watched film, and they’ve reviewed video together ever since, including this season.
“I know Bumpy, and because I know Bumpy, I’m probably pretty sure not to throw the ball over there,” Bob said.
Every week, Bob went to Seneca Valley’s game prepared to drive to Urbana’s game, which began 30 minutes later, if he could catch part of it. Bob even heard his players use that as motivation to earn a running clock as soon as possible. After Urbana losses — which haven’t come lately for a team that has won five straight — Bob drove quickly to Frederick County regardless of whether he could watch the game, so he could console his son.
Brandon will have plenty of support this week, too. His mother, Pam, and older brother, Bo, plan to root for him — though Pam joked with Bob that she might hide behind the bleachers until the game ends. And Bob said, win or lose, the night will end with him hugging Brandon and telling him he loves him.
“He’s my dad,” Brandon said. “It’s not a player-coach type of relationship. He’s my dad. I’m his son. I don’t think that’s going to change at all.”