In the other week seven TIMES NEWS Game of the Week, Pleasant Valley will travel to East Stroudsburg South for what is shaping to be the biggest game of the Mountain Valley Conference regular season.
The Cavaliers, coming off a 35-7 rout of a much-improved Dieruff team this past Friday, are 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the MVC, while the Bears have won five straight since an opening night loss to Nazareth. Pleasant Valley held on for a 28-22 in over rival Pocono Mountain East this past Friday in the annual Old Oaken Bucket Game.
Besides competing for the league title, the Cavaliers and the Bears have also solidified their place in the District 11 Class AAAA rankings, as ES South sits at number one while PV is currently sixth.
"We're not approaching this week any differently than we have the previous six games. We're excited to play in a big game," said Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger. "One thing our kids are excited about is being able to travel on the road and play in a big game against East Stroudsburg South.
"It's a great matchup. East Stroudsburg South is who they are, and that's 6-0. They live up to the billing and they have some really good players all over the field. But we haven't changed our approach at all. What we're going to try to do is play our best game offensively, defensively, and on the special forces to give us a chance to win it in the fourth quarter."
Pleasant Valley, known for its high-powered offense, has been on a tear since the week one setback to the Blue Eagles. During their five-game winning streak, the Bears have averaged 38.2 points per game, led by record-setting quarterback Brandon Leap, tailback Austyn Borre and wide receivers Kevin Cruz and Nyiem Nevarez.
While those numbers are certainly impressive, it will be difficult to sustain that success against a Cavaliers' defense that has allowed just over 9.0 points per game this season.
"I think we've gained leaps and bounds each and every week," Terwilliger said. "We started off in week one with 17 new starters offensively and defensively, but each and every week that these guys have played they've gotten a little bit better; they've understood the game a little bit more.
"We're starting to get more of an identity of who we are and it's neat to see that we're improving day-in and day-out. And that's kind of been the message around here for the last six weeks: Get better everyday."
Pleasant Valley was able to overcome three first half turnovers and a 10-7 halftime deficit against Pocono Mountain East last week on the strength of Leap's 154 yards passing and 128 yards rushing while Borre added another 91 yards on the ground.
East Stroudsburg South features a balanced offensive attack that will give Pleasant Valley little room for error on offense or defense if the Bears suffer another slow start. Tailback Niko Petrone ran for 174 yards and two scores while quarterback Jake Cirillo added 69 yards on 12 carries and a score in last week's win over Dieruff.
While the challenge against the Cavaliers is undeniable, the prospect of knowing the Bears could be in the driver's seat in the MVC and District 11 rankings is something Terwilliger feels his team is ready for.
"Allowing 55 points on defense in six games is playing," Terwilliger said of the Cavaliers. "And offensively, that's going to be a challenge for us to be able to handle that situation.
"But I think the guys understand what's on the table and we look forward to that challenge."