The Pleasant Valley football team was probably suffering from a case of déjà vu five minutes into its district quarterfinal contest with East Stroudsburg South Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Bears, this time there would be no dramatic come-from-behind victory.
Much like it did in its earlier season last match-up with Pleasant Valley, East Stroudsburg South jumped out to a two-touchdown lead before the Bears even know what hit them. Instead of letting Pleasant Valley respond, the Cavaliers kept the pedal to the metal and hit on big play after big play en route to opening up a 35-0 halftime lead.
Still, Pleasant Valley refused to quit and scored three times in the second half. However, the mercy rule would be their downfall as the Bears simply ran out of time. In the end it would be the Cavs moving on to face Easton in the district semi-finals, 35-21.
"It's tough," said Pleasant Valley head coach Jim Terwilliger. "You play a team like East Stroudsburg South and you have to give credit where credit is due. They came out and played. And that's the bottom line of the whole thing.
"They made plays. We didn't make plays. And the team that makes the most plays usually wins. We came out pillow-fighting in the first half. If you come out pillow-fighting in a football game, you probably aren't going to be very successful."
East Stroudsburg struck quickly and often in the first quarter. Kyshoen Jarrett, the Cavs' star running back, broke loose down the far sideline for a 77-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. He added another 43-yard score minutes before halftime and had 160 yards at the break. He finished with 169 yards on the night.
After the Bears went three-and-out on their first possession, South's Collin Hegarty got in on the action. The senior took a handoff straight up the gut and rumbled 42 yards for the score. He did the exact same thing on the Cavs' next possession. Again, on the fifth play of the drive, Hegarty took the handoff up the middle and went 42 yards for a touchdown. Three possessions for the Cavs. Three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Pleasant Valley's offense was nowhere to be found. The Bears managed a meager 18 yards in the first quarter (to South's 245) and had more first-half punts (five) than first downs (four).
"You start off with a first half like that and the only way to approach it is to know that you aren't going to score 35 points in one play," said Terwilliger. "We had to come out and play in the second half. We ran out of a lot of time and when you put yourself in that deep of a hole its make it tough to come back.
"I tip my hat to my kids though. They didn't quit when it would have been easy to quit. I hope the younger guys learn from this game and take an ownership in it. We have to take a step forward from here because that is the only way we can go."
Pleasant Valley came out on its first second-half possession and went 67 yards in nine plays for its first score of the night. Rob Getz capped the drive by punching it in from three yards out.
Following a South punt, the Bears put together another impressive drive. This time they went 89 yards in 15 plays. Quarterback Derrik Walling hit Albert Linares for a four-yard score on fourth down. Unfortunately for Pleasant Valley, the drive took nearly 12 minutes since the mercy rule kept the clock running.
The Bears would score again with 39 seconds remaining. Walling snuck it in from one-yard out to make the score respectable at 35-21. Pleasant Valley tried an onside kick, but failed to recover to the ball. From there the Cavs ran out the clock on the game and the Bears' season.
"I'm just so proud of them," Terwilliger said. "I know it is tough for them right now. I was an athlete and finished most of my playoff games with a loss. You either win it all or you end your season with a loss. That's the price you pay when you play.
"I just gave them the message of appreciation from the coaching staff. It's been a heck of a year and a heck of ride. We've been through a lot of ups and downs. I hope with what we have taught them, along with the season that they have had, that they can leave here a better person. That's my goal at the end of the day."
Since Terwilliger took over two years ago, Pleasant Valley has gone from the laughing stock of the high school football world (1-9) to a very respectable team (8-3). While the Bears did improve by leaps and bounds from a season ago, Terwilliger knows there is still work to be done.
"We have to improve," said Terwilliger. "Making it to districts is one thing. Doing something is another thing. We have to get better and that's the bottom line.
"The senior class has been heroic in the efforts that they have made. To go 1-9 their sophomore year to a respectable 8-3 and a district playoff birth is amazing. You have to tip you hat to a group of guys that worked."