It's not too often that a high school football team gets a second chance at something.
Considering the high school schedule is just ten games long, and three of the four District 11 classes only select four schools for the playoffs, there is a high probability that two teams will not get to play each other a second time – let alone in consecutive weeks.
However, whether it be destiny or coincidence, that is exactly what the Pleasant Valley Bears will get this weekend.
A second chance.
A week after suffering a heart-breaking loss to Stroudsburg in what was essentially the Mountain Valley Conference championship game, Pleasant Valley has been given a rematch this Saturday. The Bears (No. 7, 7-3) will travel to the Mounties' (No. 2, 9-1) field for a second straight week to square off in the first round of District 11 AAAA play.
"This is a great opportunity," said Pleasant Valley head coach Jim Terwilliger. "We are not here because of faith or luck. We qualified for the district playoffs because I believe we have a good football team.
"We get a second chance. We get a second crack at the champs, so we couldn't be more excited to be where we are at."
Last week Pleasant Valley quickly went down 21-0 early in the second quarter before battling back to tie the game at halftime. Stroudsburg then took a 27-21 lead in the third and once again put the Bears in catch-up mode. The locals had the ball three times in the fourth quarter, including twice inside the Mounties' 20-yard-line, but turned it over on downs every time. The Bears' hail-mary attempt fell incomplete as time expired.
When one takes into account the week's events leading up to last Friday night, the way the game played out, how it ended, along with it's emotional and motivational affects, drawing Stroudsburg in the first round just might be the best thing for Pleasant Valley.
"When you get to this time of the year, you are going to be playing good football teams," said Terwilliger. "Stroudsburg is obviously a good football team. They were six points better than us Friday night. Now our guys know who they are going to go against and have an understanding of what the game is going to be like.
"We had an adverse week last week. We were very bare-bones of what we could do with the short week of practice. (Stroudsburg) was the same way too, so I expect a different ball game since both teams have a lot more time to prepare. With that said I do think it benefits us to play these guys again."
Pleasant Valley knew that it had to try and contain Stroudsburg's combo of Altarique Mosley and Donovan McDonald last week, but didn't do a very good job of it.
Mosley rushed for 194 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries (6.26 YPC). The senior tailback had just 79 yards at half before exploding for 115 in the second.
McDonald showed his quicks on the outside, as two of his three catches went for touchdowns. He got behind the defense for a 36-yard score late in the first quarter and did so again with a 9-yard score in the third.
The second touchdown turned out to be the game-winner.
Limiting these two Mounties will once again be the key for the Bears.
"I think our guys have a fair respect now for what type of speed they have," Terwilliger said. "If you give both of those two cats a crease they are out. You can only simulate that speed to a certain degree in practice.
"Now we saw it. I think we will change up some techniques in terms of what we need to do in order to stop those two guys."
Pleasant Valley's offense wasn't at the top if its game early on, but turned it on in the second quarter. The Bears racked up 159 yards and three touchdowns in just nine minutes and 57 seconds.
Then again, they were also down 21-0 and were forced to speed things up. Because of that, quarterback Brandon Leap set a TIMES NEWS record for completions in a game with 27. Terwilliger hopes that doesn't repeat itself.
"We have to manufacture some run yardage," said Terwilliger. "Going down 21-0 it the first quarter doesn't really allow you to work on a lot of running schemes. Brandon did a nice job, but there are a lot of areas he can improve on in this game.
"Our game-plan is going to be multiple. We definitely can't turn the ball over because that changes the game-plan when you have to play catch-up."
Terwilliger said he never really has to motivate his team because they are always ready to go.
This week should be even easier for him. He shouldn't have to say a word.
"To be honest, I never had to motivate this team," Terwilliger said. "Even the first time we played. The kids know what they are in for. We get a second crack at the champs and it will be a lot of fun Saturday night."