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Bears are on the rise

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

This week's OVERTIME lead will examine another young area coach trying to turn a program around.

A year ago, Tamaqua's Sam Bonner and Panther Valley's Frank Damian both had tremendous success in season two of their regimes.

At Pleasant Valley, rookie coach Jim Terwilliger's team took another step in its rebuilding process by posting a come-from-behind victory against Lehighton in its Mountain Valley Conference opener Friday night.

Terwilliger and the Bears don't have to look far to find examples of first-time head coaches making an immediate impact.

Bonner inherited a program that had just eight wins in the previous three seasons. In just his second year as head coach, he led the Raiders to an Eastern Conference playoff berth. Damian's task was even more daunting. Taking over a program that had just 14 wins in the seven years prior to him being named coach, he led the Panthers to a 7-3 campaign in his second year at the helm.

In addition to examining Terwilliger's game plan for turning the Bears' fortunes around, OVERTIME will also look at offensive explosions by a couple of area teams, a field goal kicking soccer player who played a key role in a victory; a busy Palmerton quarterback, and some other interesting football facts.


Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger told his team there was no quick fix.

After winning a total of just eight games in the previous four seasons, the Bears' program needed to start at ground zero.

"We told our kids that we were going to have to build this program nail-by-nail," said Terwilliger. "It's not going to happen overnight."

One positive sign for Terwilliger and Pleasant Valley took place on Friday when the Bears trailed Lehighton 15-14 at halftime, but came out and dominated after intermission to post a 37-15 victory.

Terwilliger, a standout quarterback at East Stroudsburg University where he won the 2005 Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II football, said he is relying heavily on those ESU roots in building his program at Pleasant Valley.

"I have very close ties with East Stroudsburg University," said Terwilliger. "I spent a lot of time around the program when I was growing up because my dad was the offensive coordinator there. I also played my college ball at ESU. So I think it's natural that I would take a lot from how coach Denny Douds conducts his program."

Terwilliger's East Stroudsburg University connections trickle down to his staff where eight of the nine PV coaches have ties to ESU.

Coaches Kevin Nagle, Greg Bowman, Buck Myers, Matt Triolo, Dave Pacchioni, Vic Golat and Rich Fox all have some sort of ESU connection. Running backs coach Steve Lazicky, who comes from Berwick, rounds out the staff.

"I knew how important it was to surround myself with a great staff," said Terwilliger. "I really think I have done that.

"My goal was to put together a group of guys who love to coach, who work hard, and who I can trust. I've tried to take a little bit from all of these guys and incorporate that into my ideas."

So far, the result have been promising.

"We're seeing progress. I think the kids are buying into what we've been preaching to them," said Terwilliger. "We still have a long way to go, but I'm seeing some positive signs."


FIFTY SOMETHING ... Panther Valley and Tamaqua both had huge offensive explosions in week four, putting up 50 and 55 points respectively.

For the Panthers, who beat Jim Thorpe 50-6, it was the first time they had put 50 or more points on the board since Sept. 19, 1998. That also came against Jim Thorpe when PV rolled to a 55-21victory. The Panthers' 44-point margin of victory was their most since Oct. 8, 1999 when it blanked Bishop Hoben, 47-0.

For the Blue Raiders, who beat Mahanoy Area 55-0, it has been almost 35 years since they have scored that many points in a game. The last time a Tamaqua team scored more points was Oct. 4, 1974 at Mahanoy Area. In that game, Tamaqua rolled to a 57-0 win. That was also the last time a Tamaqua team had a bigger margin of victory than they did Friday night.


BEARS GETTING THEIR KICKS ... One of the reasons for Pleasant Valley's victory over Lehighton was a clutch performance by soccer star turned football placekicker Ryan Habick. With his team trailing 15-14 at halftime, Habick booted field goals on the Bears' first three possessions of the second half to give his team a 23-15 lead. Habick was also a perfect 4-for-4 on PATs in the game.

Since 1998 only two other area kickers have booted three field goals in a game. Northwestern's Chris Horn did it on Sept. 8, 2006 and Jim Thorpe's Tyler O'Shura accomplished the feat on Sept. 30, 2005.

Habick, who had field goals of 40, 36 and 30 yards in the game, also had the first FG of 40-or-more yards by an area kicker since Pleasant Valley's Justin Kashner booted a 41-yarder at Pocono Mountain on Oct. 27, 2000.


BOMBS AWAY ... Palmerton Blue Bomber quarterback Joe Weber threw 35 passes in Friday's win over Saucon Valley.

That's the most pass attempts by a Palmerton quarterback since Sept. 2, 1989 when Brian Morgan went 17-for-39 for 196 yards against Pen Argyl.


TRIPLE DIGIT TIGER ... Northwestern's Garrett Lerner had 115 yards receiving last week against Southern Lehigh.

Since 1989, only two other Tigers have had more receiving yards in a game Jake Bennett (124 on 11/9/07) and Preston Nelson (118 on 9/16/05).


BILLY'S BREAKAWAY ... Lehighton's Billy Angst returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown Friday night against Pleasant Valley.

The last time the Indians had a kickoff return for a TD that was at least that long was Nov. 13, 1992 when Terry Blair went 96 yards for a score against Notre Dame of Green Pond.


FINDING A WAY .... Despite being outgained by a 337-246 margin, Northern Lehigh was still able to beat Palisades, 26-24, Friday night.

It's been nearly 10 years since the Bulldogs won a game where an opponent outgained them by more than 90 yards in total offense. The last time it happened was Oct. 22, 1999 when Northwestern had a 223-120 total yardage advantage, but Nolehi won 6-0 on a Steve Hluschak punt return for a TD.

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