A year ago at this time, the Pleasant Valley football program was coming off of a 1-9 season and looking for a fresh start with new head coach Jim Terwilliger.
Twelve months later the Bears aren't looking for another fresh start. They are looking to keep the momentum going.
Pleasant Valley improved to 5-5 last season, winning as many games in 2009 as the program did in the previous three years combined. A lot has changed in that short period of time, including the offense strategy as well as the overall outlook of the program in general. Still, while those things have changed, Terwillger's philosophy for improvement will not.
"Last year we just wanted to get better every practice, every game, every day," said Terwilliger. "And that's our plan again this year. We still have a lot of room for improvement. By no means are we content with where we are at.
"Aside from wins and losses, we just want to work on getting better every day. We need to continue to improve. If we focus on that then everything else will take care of itself."
Prior to Terwilliger arriving at Pleasant Valley, the Bears' focus on offense was to run the ball. From 2006 to 2008, the Bears averaged 1,383 rushing yards a season while passing for just 682. That all changed in 2009.
Thanks to Derrik Walling and Terwilliger's new scheme, Pleasant Valley went from one of the worst offenses in the TIMES NEWS area to fifth in terms of yards-per-game (263.7). In fact, the Bears had the most passing yards in the area with 1,610.
Furthermore, Walling had the second most attempts in the area with 185. He connected on 99 of those throws for 1,311 yards and __ touchdowns.
"It's definitely a good thing when you have your quarterback returning for another year," said Terwilliger on his senior signal caller. "However, he will have to manipulate the defenses better this year because we lost our big-play man in (Anthony) Bumbulsky.
"We want to control the ball more and dictate the tempo to the defense. We probably aren't going to have as many big plays on offense, so he will have to take care of the ball even more-so than last year."
Bumbulsky hauled in 30 balls (fourth in area) and eight touchdowns last season (most at PV in 20 years). His 562 receiving yards were good for third in the area, while his 78 points ranked him fourth.
FinDing a replacement for Bumbulsky will be imperative for the Bears. However, they feel they already have one in senior Richie Irving. Irving caught 31 balls for 340 yards in '09. Junior tailback Rob Getz will also be a threat out of the backfield. Along with rushing for 465 yards, Getz also caught __ passes for __ yards.
While the offense really came together last year, the defense did not. Pleasant Valley allowed 27.1 points-per-game and gave up nearly 349 yards-per-game - second worst in the area. The Bears were mainly gashed on the ground, as they surrendered an area-worse 2,565 yards.
"The scheme and the players are there for us to succeed," said Terwilliger. "We just need to come together and play as a group. I think it helps that they get to go against an offense like ours every day in practice. Good competition breeds success and we have definitely had that in practice as of late."
In just one season the expectations have risen greatly for the Pleasant Valley football program. While Terwilliger won't get too far ahead of himself and his team, he does believe that they have a shot at competing for the MVC crown.
"I think it is going to be an interesting year," said Terwilliger. "Everyone has a year in the system under their belt and they know what is expected of them.
"I think we can compete for the MVC title. I don't think there is one favorite this year. Every team is trying to see where they are right now and is trying to prepare themselves. Still, we would like to put our hat in the circle of teams that can compete for the conference championship."