Pleasant Valley's Andrew Romeo didn't exactly have the start to Friday night's football game that he was hoping for.
However, after throwing a bone-crushing block early in the second quarter, Romeo's fire was re-lit and it helped carry him to an impressive night on the gridiron.
Pleasant Valley put four touchdowns on the board in the second quarter and ran away from Pocono Mountain West, 45-10 in Mountain Valley Conference play. Romeo hauled in three of those scores, one of which he made happen all by himself, and helped the Bears stay perfect in conference play.
"I started off slow," admitted Romeo. "I should have started off fast. You always have to start off fast, but at least I finished strong and got it done in the end."
With the Bears clinging to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, Romeo lined up to punt the ball away. The kick ended up going off the side of his foot and out of bounds for six yards. Fortunately, his defense stood up and held West to a field goal.
Then, early in the second, Romeo missed an open-field tackle on the Panthers' Mike McMaster and watched as McMaster scored from 17 yards out. He went to the sideline and stood by himself in solitude.
It was on the very next possession that Romeo made his presence felt again, but this time in a good way. On third-and-ten, Brandon Leap scrambled out of the pocket with a would-be tackler hot on his tail. Romeo came sprinting back and delivered a decleating block to spring Leap for the first down. Leap then linked up with Romeo on the very next play for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Romeo would go on to haul in two more touchdowns in the quarter, one of which he caught short and made tacklers miss, en route to finishing with 109 yards on five catches.
"I felt like I let the team down on that punt and then the missed tackle," said Romeo. "Fortunately I came back and played much better after that.
"I definitely think this was a statement game. No one has been giving us respect in the MVC so we came out and played hard and got the win."
Leap played well for the Bears as well. A week after attempting just one pas in a blowout win over Dieruff, Leap completed 11-of-19 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns. His other touchdown went to tailback Austyn Borre on a swing pass late in the first quarter. Leap flipped the pass out to the left and watched as Borre split his blockers and raced 52 yards for the score.
Borre also picked up a 41-yard touchdown on the ground. It made for his eighth total touchdown of the year. He finished with 109 yards rushing on 15 carries.
"Certainly this year is a lot different than we have been accustomed to," said Terwilliger. "We have been a lot of smoke and mirrors the last couple of years. The heart and soul of this football team is up front. The guys on the outside are playmakers, but we have to play with a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger up front and we have done that so far."
Pleasant Valley's defense, which has been the Achilles heel of the Bears over the last few years, held the Panthers to just ten points and 47 yards on the ground.
"The greatest improvements we can make in this football program is on defense," Terwilliger said. "Coach Pacchioni has done an outstanding job of getting our kids to believe in the idea of swarming to the ball and playing defense as a unit."
With West coming off a one-point loss to East Stroudsburg South last week, many thought this week was a chance for Pleasant Valley to make a statement to the rest of the league.
Terwilliger said he isn't into statements. He just wants to take it one week at a time.
"Pocono Mountain West and us have been an outstanding battle for the last three years," said Terwilliger.
"Coach McCarroll is an unbelievable coach. I got the chance to coach with him in the all-star game and I have a lot of respect for what he does.
"Coming into tonight, statement or no statement, I told the kids that we had to be prepared to play our best football.
"It's been a one-week season since we started and our kids really came to play tonight."