The week four TIMES NEWS Game of the Week features two local Mountain Valley Conference teams in Lehighton and Pleasant Valley.
This one matches up Lehighton's physical and so far impressive defensive unit against the always exciting and fast moving Pleasant Valley offense. It's a definite clash of styles in week four and should serve up to be an entertaining early season MVC contest.
As mentioned, the Lehighton defense is coming into their game with the Bears with a fierce reputation. It may be early in the season, but the Indians have proven they can fly to the football and that they are pretty good at creating turnovers as well. Against an athletic Pocono Mountain East team last week, Lehighton was able to generate seven Cardinal turnovers. No matter what the circumstances may be, if you can get a team to turn the ball over seven times, you're a doing a great job defensively.
Lehighton statistically has the best defense in the TIMES NEWS area giving up just 205 yards per game, while holding opponents to an average of 11.3 points per game.
With Pleasant Valley coming to town it's always good to have your defensive unit playing well because one thing's for sure, they'll be tested come game time. Ironically, the Bears have the highest scoring offense in the TN area, averaging 31.7 points per contest.
"We certainly have our hands full with Pleasant Valley," said Lehighton coach Tom McCarroll. "Athletically, I would put them in that same category as a team like Stroudsburg that we lost a tough game to in the second week. They have talent everywhere and even though they lost 17-18 starters from last year's team they've seemed to have reloaded. I told our guys we need to play our absolute best football on Friday night."
For, Pleasant Valley it's been all about trying to improve on a week by week by basis. Things did not go the way coach Jim Terwilliger wanted them to go against Nazareth in the Bears 31-9 week one loss to the Blue Eagles. Since then, the Bears have reeled of two straight victories with improvements all over the board. After scoring just nine points against Nazareth the Bears have averaged 43 points over their last two games.
"Our offense has a lot of moving parts and I don't think the cohesiveness was there in week one," said Terwilliger. "We've just gotten better at practice everyday and our guys are doing everything to the best of their ability. We've been doing a lot of good things and the guys have been working their tales off to get better. We still have a lot to improve on, but our ability to score on offense has definitely improved from week one."
A big reason for that improvement has been because of the Bears' quarterback Brandon Leap. The senior threw for six touchdowns and ran for one against Dieruff in week two and threw for two more touchdowns last week against Pocono Mountain West. Leap will certainly be marked red on the Tribe's defensive priority list for Friday night.
It's no doubt that Lehighton's defense is good and that Pleasant Valley's offense is solid as well, but what about the Indian's offense and the Bears defense?
Actually, both units have been average this season, with Lehighton's "O" ranked sixth out of nine teams in the TN area, while Pleasant Valley's "D" is ranked sixth as well.
Lehighton coach Tom McCarroll expressed earlier in the week that the Tribe's offense has to be able put some points on the board and sustain clock controlling drives. He also mentioned that it's important for the Indians to finish drives.
"We really want to come out and control the clock with our offense," said McCarroll. "We want those 8-10 play drives and then it's important for us to finish those drives by putting points on the board."
Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger mentioned sort of the same dynamic as McCarroll, expressing that it's important for his guys to execute at all times and in all facets of the game against Lehighton.
"We've got some young guys, but they're talented guys," said Terwilliger. "We just need to make sure we execute against a Lehighton team that we think very highly of. They're a well coached team and they're a team that I think can compete for the league title this year."
With the TIMES NEWS area's top defensive squad and top offensive scoring team squaring off, it's evident that something will have to give. Whether it's the Indians offense that steps up or maybe it's the Bears defense that plays better than they have been. One of these teams will have to dig deep to pull out the victory and it will surely be fun for area football fans to watch come Friday night.