EAST STROUDSBURG - East Stroudsburg South's Niko Patrone might not be the most imposing running back in the Mountain Valley Conference, but he's certainly one of the most impressive.
The Cavaliers 5'6" dynamo gashed the Pleasant Valley defense from start to finish, racking up over 230 yards on the ground and four scores in ES South's convincing 30-14 win over the Bears.
"Niko is the type of kid that, because of his quickness and his ability to see what's in front of him and make unbelievable cuts, does things most kids can't do," said ES South coach Ed Christian. "It's just a matter of giving him the ball enough times and something is going to happen; something good is going to happen."
What was good for Petrone on this night was also good for the Cavaliers, who moved to 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the MVC and now control their own destiny.
"The kids have played their hearts out," Christian said. "I thought tonight, we were very physical and that's one of the things we work on."
ES South's physicality on offense was apparent throughout the game, as the Cavaliers attempted only five passes in the contest and relied on the legs of Patrone to move the chains and put points on the board.
The Bears (5-2, 4-1) were able to keep it close early, as Austyn Borre tied the game 7-7 with a four yard score in the second quarter.
But Patrone and the Cavaliers would answer just three plays into their very next possession, as the senior slipped through the defense for a 72-yard score that also put him over 1,000 yards this season.
A 14-7 lead at the intermission was certainly no sure thing for the Cavaliers, especially with Pleasant Valley's explosive offense on the other sideline.
But ES South got the ball to start the second half and kept momentum on its side, returning the kick to the Pleasant Valley 35 yard line.
It took only four plays for Patrone to find the end zone once again, this time from three yards out to give the Cavaliers a 20-7 advantage.
Pleasant Valley moved the ball into ES South territory on its next drive, but failed to convert on fourth down and handed the ball back to the Cavaliers, who wasted no time cashing in.
Patrone took the handoff on the very first play of the next possession and sprinted 56 yards for his fourth and final touchdown of the night.
The performance further cemented Patrone's status as one of the most explosive players in the MVC, something that hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Niko Patrone is a tough back to stop," said Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger. "I don't' care who you are. That young man has not been stopped yet this year and we certainly gave him his yardage (tonight).
"There's not one reason why; he's a great player. We didn't do the job that we needed to do to contain him to be able to keep ourselves in that ballgame."
Pleasant Valley's offense, led by Brandon Leap's 215 yards passing and 36 yards rushing, was able to hang with the Cavaliers in the stat column.
But the Bears struggled to finish drives, which was made even more difficult by three costly fumbles.
"They had big plays on offense and defense," said Terwilliger. "We had three turnovers and they capitalized on almost every single one of them.
"That hurts you in big games like this. To be successful against a great coach like Ed Christian and his football program, we have to play consistently for long periods of time."
While the loss stings, Terwilliger sees it as a chance for his team to grow.
"I really believe that in losing you build character and you find out a little bit about people," the coach said. "This is certainly going to be a test for our guys."