It is amazing how much things can change in four years.
If someone would have told Jim Terwilliger in 2007 that he would be leading a 6-1 Pleasant Valley football team into battle with East Stroudsburg South this weekend for the inside track to the Mountain Valley Conference championship, he wouldn't have believed it. In fact, he might have told you to see a doctor.
However, due to a string of events, that is exactly what will happen this Friday in Brodheadsville.
"I probably would have said they were crazy," said Terwilliger. "You look at the way things have gone and the different roads that you can take. Certainly when you look at where I am at now and where this team is at, it is probably a different road than most people would have expected.
"I have always been a believer that when you get to the cross-roads – you go right through them. So we are going to take that approach Friday."
The Bears (6-1, 3-0) will host the Cavaliers (5-2, 4-0) in a match-up with many underlying stories. Terwilliger played high school football under South coach Ed Christian and later became a part of his coaching staff. Now, four years later in just his second season as Pleasant Valley's head coach, his Bears football team will go up against his alma mater in a game that may ultimately decide this year's conference champion.
"When you play East Stroudsburg South and you both come in with undefeated records in the conference, you put yourself in a good position," said Terwilliger. "This is certainly the biggest game that we have played in.
"It's not too hard to motivate young men when they know it's a big-time game. So far they have come out with a tremendous attitude. The key to this week will be how well we prepare in these five days before the game. As of right now, we have had a good week so far."
The Cavaliers come into this week's game having scored 35 or more points in each of their last four games. In those four games they have defeated their opponents by an average of 28 points.
South's quarterback, Michael Carmella, had his hand in five touchdowns last week in a win over Pocono Mountain East.
The first-year starter threw for 132 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 109 yards and two more scores. On the year he has 1,683 total yards (1,257 passing) and 22 total touchdowns (17 passing) – making him a dual threat.
The Cavaliers also possess a number of skill-position players that can make an impact. Running backs Collin Hegarty, Kyshoen Jarrett and Marquis Harp all ran for touchdowns last week. Wide receiver Matt Walters caught a touchdown, while Hegarty and Jarrett also had receptions out of the backfield.
"They have players," said Terwilliger. "You look down the board. Carmella at quarterback. Jarrett, Hegarty, Walters and James Coscia. These are all big-time players in our league. They are statistical leaders as well as big-time playmakers. We will have our hands full defending those guys, but at the same time I think we match up well with different athletes."
Although they have yet to face an offense as talented as the Cavaliers, the Bears' defense has been solid. Since its first-week loss to Nazareth in which it gave up 38 points, Pleasant Valley has surrendered just 71 points in six games. For the year they are giving up 15.6 points-per-game.
Pleasant Valley's offense has been running on all cylinders as well. The Bears have scored over 40 points in four of their six wins and are averaging 33.2 points-per-game despite being shut out on opening night.
Quarterback Derrik Walling has practically matched Carmella's play thus far, as he has thrown for 1,123 yards and 16 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 62 percent.
Tailback Rob Getz leads Pleasant Valley with 10 touchdowns, while receiver Rich Irving and back Dekimbe Smith have each scored seven.
Though Terwilliger and Christian are very familiar with one another, Terwilliger said his team will not vary its game-plan as it tries to gain a head-start on its first MVC crown since 2004.
"We know exactly what we need to do," Terwilliger said. "We're not straying away from what has got us here.
"We want to prepare the way we have prepared for other games, but with a little bit extra enthusiasm and motivation."