Coming into the 2010 season, head coach Jim Terwilliger said that the only thing his Pleasant Valley football team was lacking was some big-game experience and a big-time victory.
A mere three games later, Terwilliger and his Bears finally received both.
Pleasant Valley used good field position to engineer four scoring drives and up-set Wyoming Valley West, 27-20 in non-conference play. The win puts an end to the Spartans' nine-game winning streak over the Bears.
"When I said this was a statement week, it was to figure out who we are a little bit," said Terwilliger. "We opened up with a shot in the mouth, but we were able to come back in week two. We had to see what kind of football team we had.
"The kids prepared. The kids were focused and they played their hearts out. I am proud of every single one of them because they really made the statement that we are a program that is building and working hard to get to where we have to be."
Having faced Wyoming Valley West last year, Terwilliger was able to put together a great game-plan. The coaching staff knew what defensive set the Spartans were going to come out with and what would be available. Then, once the defense adjusted to what they were doing, the Bears knew what would work next.
"They gave us a lot of the underneath stuff last year so we knew we were going to get that look again," said quarterback Derrik Walling. "Once we were completing the short stuff, we knew they were going to go to a four-deep look. When they did that we were able to run the ball. And that proved to be right. Coach Terwilliger was right yet again."
Walling started off with an interception four plays into the game, but didn't let it get to him. The senior went on to complete 18-of-23 passes - most of which were quick hitters. Only seven of Walling's passes went for longer than ten years, with four of those going for 10 or 11 yards.
Once Wyoming Valley West dropped into coverage, Pleasant Valley started to pound the ball. Dekimbe Smith ran for only 36 yards on 16 carries, but ran tough up the middle and had two one-yard scoring runs. Rob Getz added 48 yards, including a nice 36-yard touchdown run late in the third to all but seal the win. Walling chipped in with 58 yards and a nine-yard touchdown of his own.
Then the key defensively for the Bears was stopping the Spartans' do-everything man in Eugene Lewis. Lewis, who is listed at 6-2, 185, is a Division I caliber athlete who lined up at quarterback, running back and receiver. Pleasant Valley made him look mortal Friday night. Lewis tallied just 50 yards on 16 carries, completed only 6-of-13 throws and was held without a catch.
"First of all, the young man in a tremendous athlete," said Terwilliger. "No matter where they put him, he is going to make a lot of plays. The key for us was stopping him and the kids took an ownership in that.
"The kids worked their tails off all week to execute a game-plan. And when you execute good things happen."
Pleasant Valley now stands at 2-1 (0-0 MVC) and will enter conference play next week against Lehighton. Terwilliger believes Friday night's 'statement victory' will help his team tremendously as it moves along in the season.
"Coming into this season, I said that our team needs a win that we weren't supposed to win." Terwilliger said. "Obviously, winning tonight does that. We were heavily under-dogged. It helps belief. It helps our program take a step.
"We will embrace it tonight and enjoy it, but learn that the reason why this happened was because we were focused and we prepared."