Pleasant Valley steps up its defense
This week's OVERTIME column will highlight how Pleasant Valley has stepped up its defensive play the last couple of weeks. OVERTIME will also feature a long streak that came to an end at Northern Lehigh, a couple of rare offensive feats by Jim Thorpe, some noteable achievements by a pair of Pleasant Valley players, and a few other interesting items.
It hasn't quite reached the point where Pleasant Valley's Jim Terwilliger needs to find a part-time job or take out a loan, but "Taco Monday" definitely has had Tewilliger digging deep into his pockets the last few weeks.
The Bears' head coach came up with an idea he called "Tacos for Turnovers" and the Pleasant Valley defense has been making him pay.
The PV coaching staff came up with a "Taco Board" where they put the names of any player who forces or comes up with a turnover. Then on Mondays, Terwilliger and the Bears visit the Taco Bell Restuarant located across the highway from the high school and he buys tacos for everyone whose name is on the board.
"We came up with the idea to provide a little extra motivation for our defense and our kids have definitely taken advantage of it. The last few weeks have been pretty costly for me," Terwilliger said with a laugh.
While Terwillger joked about how much the turnovers have cost him, the way the Bears have forced turnovers the last few weeks has been no laughing matter to their opponents.
In week two against Dieruff, Pleasant Valley forced four turnovers. The Bears followed that up by forcing two more turnovers against Pocono Mountain West in week three. They then added four interceptions in a victory over Lehighton last weekend. That's 10 takeaways in three weeks and 12 on the season second to only Palmerton among TIMES NEWS area teams.
But the Bears' defense hasn't only been good at forcing turnovers. After a slow start, Pleasant Valley has allowed a total of just six points in its last two games, shutting out Pocono Mountain West, 35-0, and then beating Lehighton, 28-6. That's in contrast to the first two weeks of the season when the Bears surrendered over 30 points to both Nazareth and Dieruff.
"We've grown by leaps and bounds defensively the last two weeks," said Terwiller about a unit that returned just three fulltime starters from a year ago. "We always expect to play great defense, but at the same time, we knew there might be some growing pains with all the new kids we had on the field.
"That doesn't mean we lowered the bar. We knew we had some talented players on defense, it was just a matter of getting the 11 guys to funtion as one cohesive unit. We've started to do that the last couple of weeks."
Terwillger gave a lot of credit for the Bears' defensive improvment to his coaching staff, especially defensive coordinator Dave Pacchioni.
"My coaching staff does a great job with our defense. We do a lot of reps on the field and spend a lot of time in the classroom as well," said Terwilliger. "The kids are ready both physically and mentally for each game and then coach Pacchioni does a great job of putting them in position to be successful on the field."
With two impressive defensive performances in a row, Pleasant Valley has recovered from its shaky start to the season to rank third in both scoring defense and total defense in the TIMES NEWS coverage area.
Part of the credit for that improvment lies with the Bears' ability to force turnovers. If they can continue that, the 2013 season could be extremely fulfilling and also extremely filling.
Which means Taco Bell will need to prepare for more hungry Bears each Monday and coach Terwilliger will have to put a little more money in his taco budget.
STREAK SNAPPED ... A long streak came to an end on Friday when Northern Lehigh lost to Palisades.
The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the game when Taz McNair returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. When Palisades rallied for the victory, it ended a stretch of 32 straight games in which Northern Lehigh had won when it scored first.
The last time the Bulldogs scored first in a game and lost was Oct. 31, 2008 against Palmerton.
BIG NIGHT FOR DEONTE ... Deonte St. Hill rushed for 219 yards in Jim Thorpe's victory over Panther Valley on Friday night.
St. Hill is just the eighth Olympian player to rush for over 200 yards in a game over the last 25 years.
The others were: Gabe Robinson 260 yards (9/24/99); Shane Edwards 225 yards (10/1/10); Jason Figura 220 yards (10/22/04); Pat Duvigneaud 211yards (9/21/12); Phil Redline 206 yards (9/21/07); Jared Schrantz 205 yards (9/23/95); and Kraig Hickel 204 yards (11/12/88).
St. Hill wasn't the only Jim Thorpe runner to have a big night against the Panthers, however, as Ryan Saunders added 133 yards on the ground. Over the last 25 years, there hasn't been another Jim Thorpe game in which one player had 200 or more yards rushing and another had 100 or more.
PILING UP THE YARDAGE ... Jim Thorpe had 509 of offense against Panther Valley. Over the last 25 years that was just the fifth time the Olympians had 500 or more yards of total offense.
The other times were: at Nativity (11/5/99 547); at Northwest (10/8/99 520); vs. Panther Vy. (9/21/12 516) and vs. Tamaqua (9/3/04 510).
The 472 rushing yards Jim Thorpe compiled in the game were the most for an Olympian team in the past 25 years.
LONG PICK SIX ... Pleasant Valley's Nyiem Nevarez returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown against Lehighton.
The last time the Bears returned an interception at least 60 yards for a score was Oct. 15, 2004 (90 games ago) when Jamie Irvine had a pick-six of 61 yards against ES North.
Pleasant Valley finished the game with four interceptions. Over the last 10 years, this is just the fifth time the Bears have had four or more INTs in a game. They had five on Oct. 22, 2004 and four each on Oct. 19, 2012, Nov. 18, 2000 and Sept. 22, 1995.
WORKHORSE ... The Bears' Austyn Borre carried 25 times against Lehighton (rushing for 130 yards). The last time a Pleasant Valley player carried at least 25 times in a game was Nov. 1, 2002 (108 games ago) when Mike Economy had 25 against Pocono Mountain East in a 20-12 win. Economy ran for 159 yards in that contest.
TIGER RECORD SETTERS ... Northwestern's Cam Richardson caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Frank Dangello in last week's game against Southern Lehigh.
That marked the fourth straight game that Richardson has recorded a scoring catch. The four straight games with a TD reception is believed to be a first at Northwestern.
For Dangello, the touchdown toss is the 18th of his career. The senior now owns the career record for TD passes at Northwestern. The previous mark was 15, held by three players Kyle Stelmack, Vince Jones and Steve Schaffer.
LONG DISTANCE TOUCHDOWNS ... Among the touchdowns in Marian's win over Conwell-Egan Saturday were KJ Snerr's passes of 66 yards to Lukas Damian and 69 yards to Nick Sully.
Those two scores marked the first time the Colts have had a pair of touchdowns 65 yards or more in the same game since Oct. 10, 2008 (49 games ago). In that contest, a 35-12 win over Minersville, Francis Lally had a 78-yard run and Shawn Hutta hauled in an 86-yard pass from Will Eckhart.