Thumbs up for Walling
It's hard to figure out what was more impressive about Derrik Walling's performance last Friday night.
Was it the fact that the Pleasant Valley junior quarterback was returning to his position four weeks after breaking a thumb on his throwing hand? Or was it the effort he gave in leading his Bears to an exciting victory over rival Pocono Mountain East?
While the two could be debated, there's no questioning that the combination of both was worthy of the most recent TIMES NEWS Football Player of the Week award.
Walling, who was hurt in Week 5 against Wyoming Valley West, had a career game against the Cardinals. The lefty completed 18-of-29 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns as PV rallied for a 24-19 win.
"It's not fun to sit on the sidelines and watch your team play when you know you should be out there," said Walling. "One of our coaches is a physical therapist so I was with him every morning before I came into school trying to get better to get back for the end of the season.
"That was my first game back at quarterback. It definitely feels better now."
Walling actually had his cast cut off the week before and his head coach was hoping he could return that night.
Unfortunately for the Bears, he couldn't.
"He got his cast taken off the morning of the (ES) South game and I was licking my chops thinking we could get him back a week earlier than I thought," said Pleasant Valley mentor Jim Terwilliger. "His grip just wasn't there yet.
"(That injury) does a lot on a young man's psyche. You talk about a quarterback with a break on your throwing hand ... it must have been a huge mental case for Derrik to overcome that. To be honest, he worked his tail off to get back as soon as possible. He was doing everything to get himself back in a position to play."
And play he did.
Despite his just returning to the lineup, the Bears relied heavily on their passing game.
"We had a great overall team effort against East," said Walling, who now has 1,032 yards passing this season. "That was the plan - to throw. Coach told me if I keep completing them we'll keep throwing them. I prefer to do that. I'd rather throw than run."
Ironically all three TD passes went to Anthony Bumbulsky, the teammate who took his place at QB and earned a Player of the Week Award in a win against East Stroudsburg North.
"Me and Anthony got pretty close this year," said Walling. "That has worked out best for the team. I know every time I try to get him the ball he'll come down with it."
Bumbulsky will be graduating after this season, but Walling returns in 2010 which is something that pleases Coach Terwilliger.
"I've actually had very little time to work with him," said Terwilliger. "I didn't even know he was a quarterback until three-quarters through the summer. He's a tremendous baseball player. From the time we've had he's done a good job developing, learning our offense and becoming a quarterback.
"He's getting better as the weeks go on. What impresses me most about him is that he's very fiery, his grasp of passing concepts, and his leadership ability in crucial situations. He's done a nice job learning the system, adapting to his strengths and weaknesses, and leading us. And that's why he's our quarterback."