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Bears are in familiar spot

Published September 14. 2017 06:01PM

Been there. Done that.

Pleasant Valley football coach Mark Versuk is hoping that statement rings true this season.

That's because in two of the previous three seasons, the Bears have opened with three-straight losses, only to fight back and qualify for postseason play.

Can they make it three of four?

Versuk believes it's possible.

Pleasant Valley (0-3) will begin that quest on Friday night when it hosts Allen.

"We met with our kids earlier in the week and talked about what's still possible," said Versuk. "We told them that we want to wipe the slate clean and look at it like we're 0-0 again.

"Our goal is to get that first win this week. We want to keep our kids focused on the next game. We don't want to be looking back and we don't want to be looking ahead."

It's a mindset that has worked well for recent Pleasant Valley teams that have struggled out of the gate.

In 2014, Pleasant Valley started 0-3 before winning six-straight games, and eventually qualifying for the District 11 playoffs. The following year, after another 0-3 start to the season, the Bears once again reeled off six-straight wins before falling to Stroudsburg in the regular season finale. That year, PV qualified for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"A couple years ago, we made a ladder and had each of our future opponents as one step on the ladder," recalled Versuk. "After each victory, we had our players knock down that step on the ladder ... one-by-one we were able to get to the top of the ladder.

"I've been talking with my coaches, and we have some ideas about doing something similar this year. We want our kids to realize that big things are still possible, but we need to take it one-step-at-a-time."

With losses to Nazareth, Allentown Central Catholic and Northampton to start the season, the Bears margin for error has been greatly reduced.

"No one on the team is down," said Versuk. "The mood has been upbeat at practice this week.

"The kids know we've had opportunities to win the last two games. A couple plays here and there have been the difference. We need to be a little more consistent in our execution, but we are close."

For a Pleasant Valley program that has qualified for postseason play five straight seasons, the road to a 2017 playoff berth won't be an easy one. But it will be a familiar one.

"We're dealing with a lot of injuries right now (the Bears have people out at 12 starting positions), but we have enough kids to fill in and we have good enough kids to win," said Versuk. "We need to turn this around and we need to start this week."


TAMAQUA HAT TRICK ... Tamaqua improved to 3-0 on the season last Friday when its passing game helped defeat Schuylkill Haven.

The Blue Raiders had four touchdown passes in the contest, with three different players - Thad Zuber, Nate Boyle, and Casey Rother - snaring scoring tosses.

The last time Tamaqua had three different players catch TD passes in the same game was Nov. 8, 1991 (266 games ago). In that contest, a 39-20 victory over Marian, Geoff Kruczek threw scoring strikes to Mark Onushco, Frank Krell, and Chris Woodring.


WHAT A COMEBACK ... Palmerton looked like it would lose its first game on its new turf field last week when it trailed Saucon Valley 28-14 at halftime.

But the Blue Bombers rallied for 15 third-quarter points and hung on to defeat the Panthers by a 29-28 score.

Palmerton last rallied from a 14-point deficit on Sept. 25, 2009, also against Saucon Valley, but the deficit by halftime was only eight points.

Before Friday, the Bombers had trailed at the break by 14-or-more points 102 times since 1984. Their record in those games was 0-102.


LONG STREAK ENDS ... Marian had a long streak end in Friday's loss to North Schuylkill.

The Spartans blanked the Colts, 35-0, one week after Marian fell to Jim Thorpe, 27-0.

The back-to-back shutouts they suffered marked the first time since 1973 that the Colts didn't manage a point in consecutive games. In that season, Marian was held scoreless by Lourdes (48-0) and Bishop Hoban (20-0) in Weeks 6 and 7.

Among Times News area teams, Jim Thorpe now holds the distinction of going the longest without being shut out in back-to-back weeks. The last time it happened to the Olympians was during the 1987 season.


INDIAN THREE-POINTER ... In last week's victory over Schuylkill Valley, Lehighton kicker Nate Petit-Clair booted a 33-yard field goal.

Since 1986, only four other Indian players have booted a field goal longer than that.

They include Cory Whitehead (38 and 34 yard kicks in 2006), Jacen Nalesnik (37 yards in 2012), Ben Millen (36 yards in 2007), and Gabe Szozda (34 yards in 1995).

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