Altoona Area High School's loss was Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School's gain last fall, when Michael Pleva transferred from Altoona to BG and provided the Marauders' football team with a formidable presence on both the offensive and defensive lines.
The 6-foot, 265-pound Pleva started both ways for the Marauders at the offensive and defensive tackle positions last year, and will give BG valuable experience at those two spots as he enters his senior season this fall.
But the reasons for the transfer went much deeper than football for Pleva, who has aspirations of someday becoming a Catholic priest.
Pleva felt that attending a small, Catholic high school like BG would give him more of an opportunity to strengthen and learn more about his faith, and help start him on his career road.
"I'm in love with my faith, and being at BG has really been a wonderful change for me,'' said Pleva, who also is a member of BG's baseball program. "I love it at BG. Everybody has welcomed me into the BG family. It's unbelievable how accepting they've been.''
Even as a teenager, Pleva realizes the enormous commitment that becoming a member of the Catholic clergy entails.
"As of right now, I'm leaning more toward attending seminary school and becoming a member of the clergy after graduating from high school,'' Pleva said. "It's not a definite right now. I'm keeping my options open. It's a very, very tough decision. But this is a very, very important issue for me, and a lot of my friends have been supportive of me.''
From both a personal and athletic standpoint, BG coach Justin Wheeler is happy to have Pleva on his roster.
"He's a terrrific kid to be around, an outstanding person, and a great addition to our team,'' Wheeler said. "On the field, I look for him to have a terrific season this year, and to be one of our leaders on both the offensive and defensive lines.''
Pleva works hard the entire year around, lifting weights three days a week to build his strength.
"My size has really helped me on the line,'' he said. "I've been trying to strengthen myself for my senior year, and it's really been paying off.''
Wheeler said that Pleva has made his presence known in the trenches.
"BG has traditionally had problems attracting really big linemen, so his size is really an asset,'' Wheeler said of Pleva. "He's a player who you want to have on the field as much as possible.''