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Papaleo rushes past PM East

Robert Papaleo’s masterful running game has added new life to the Pleasant Valley offense the last few seasons.

The senior quarterback rushed for 400 yards in his last two games, and the option offense the team runs has worked to success recently.

“It just takes a lot of practice, and I feel like we all take it very serious, and we’re preaching on perfection,” Papaleo said. “Everything we do is with a purpose. I feel like I’m building chemistry over time working with the same team, getting a groove with everybody and it just keeps rolling.”

Last Friday, Papaleo ran 25 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns during a 42-8 victory over Pocono Mountain East. Papaleo also threw for 101 yards and two scores in the win.

Papaleo’s efforts earned him the Times News Football Player of the Week.

In his third season with the Bears - and his second at quarterback - it took time for the Pleasant Valley senior to get the position on a weekly basis after starting in a different spot.

“As a sophomore, I was playing wing learning a whole different position,” Papaleo said. “I found out last year I ended up playing quarterback, so I had to fill a different role. It’s bigger shoes to fill, and I had to work at it. It’s a completely different mindset. I feel like I’m way more comfortable playing at quarterback than I was last year. I feel very confident in the way I’m playing, running and even passing.”

The runner Papaleo has become throws off defenses, and the PV ground game gets rolling. With the mix of schedule Pleasant Valley plays every year, the running game needs to adjust accordingly to certain teams.

“It definitely took some work,” Papaleo said. “I have not always been this great of a runner, but with time and reps, it’s becoming natural. It’s first-nature at this point.”

Papaleo also has the ability to read defenses, and change the play at the line. PV head coach Blaec Saeger stressed the importance of that after the Dieruff game.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this for long enough to understand what the right play to call is based on the defense, and how they’re playing us,” Papaleo said. “We always have an adjustment for everything. We always have a misdirection and direction for a different play.”

Papaleo has been part of a ground game that uses a three-running back rotation, but the senior quarterback carries the ball more than anyone most games. PV came out with 366 rushing yards against Pocono Mountain East in the Old Oaken Bucket game, with Papaleo responsible for a big chunk of that yardage.

The rotation of running backs doesn’t faze Papaleo one bit. In fact, he has been able to work with all three of them to form a successful rushing game.

“I get enough reps with each one of them at practice, so everything feels smooth,” Papaleo said. “Both of them feel the same. We perfected the way we play with each other, and I know how to play based on what type of athletes I have in my game.”

Papaleo will be back in the saddle again against a 6-0 Northampton team this week in a game that will mark the first time PV faces a Lehigh Valley team this season.