Sometimes it gets bold, but never does it get old.
"Most exciting week in the house," said Chris Perretta, wife of Brentwood football coach Steve Perretta and mother to three sons, all of whom have now played against their father. "There's a little trash talking but there's always a lot of fun."
The Perrettas live in the Longwood school district, meaning that brothers Steve Jr., Joe and Kevin - plus their cheerleading sister Lauren - attended a rival Division I school that plays Brentwood every football season. It has made for some pretty interesting dinnertime chatter over the years. "We don't talk strategy. I'd never do that to my kids," Steve Perretta said before Saturday's game against Longwood in which Kevin, a sophomore reserve lineman, became the third son to oppose his dad.
Did the kids try to wangle a secret out of their father? "They know that's not happening," Perretta said. "We always keep it light. We're a football family, but you've got to make it fun for everybody."
Perretta was an assistant when Brentwood beat Longwood two of the three years Steve Jr. was there (1996-98). Joe played against his father in 2003, winning a tight game. "He was the first one across the field to see me," the senior Perretta recalled with a laugh. " 'Ha! We beat ya!' That's what he said. My kids all want to beat me. I guess I raised them to be competitors. Kevin just told me, 'You can't retire. I want to beat you when I'm a starter.' "
In fact, whenever Longwood plays Brentwood and it's Perretta against Perretta, coach Steve is outnumbered. "On those days, I'm pulling for my boys," Chris Perretta said, just moments before she greeted her husband with a kiss after Saturday's 29-28 overtime victory for Brentwood.
Steve Sr. did have a family ally on Saturday. "I hope my little brother gets a shot and does well, but I'm pulling for my dad," said Joe, who paced the Brentwood sideline throughout the game in which Kevin saw limited action. "I got to watch my older brother play my dad and I saw how much fun it was. Now I get to watch my kid brother do it. It's a great experience."
How about those family dinners the week before the game? "No secrets. No tension. Just a little teasing and a lot of fun," said Joe, who was quick to point out that Steve Jr. had put pressure on the quarterback during one play and thought his brother was held, but no flag was thrown. Moments later, he cheered when his father's team scored.
There was one serious moment before Saturday's game. Steve Perretta asked Longwood coach Chris Meyer if it was OK to talk to his son during warm-ups. Meyer agreed. "I gave him a big hug," Perretta said, choking up a little at the retelling.
It may be father against son, but in truth, they're all on the same side.