Terwilliger has the Bears believing they can win

Pleasant Valley may be a huge underdog at Parkland, but won't be intimidated because of their feisty heac coach.

In winning nine straight games, Parkland has become a defensive coordinator's nightmare.

This week it's Dave Pacchioni's turn.

He's the first-year defensive coordinator at Pleasant Valley and he's molded a unit that has been good enough to win eight games and put the Bears in the District 11 Class 4A title game for the first time since 1994.

"They're a powerhouse," Pacchioni said of Parkland. "They have some great athletes at the skill positions and a big and strong offensive line that really comes off the ball. They bring a three-headed monster with their quarterback [Tim Baranek] and those two backs [Jarel Elder and Eli Redmond]. We've got to stay on our assignments to have a chance against them."

The Bears have plenty of respect for the Trojans, but they don't figure to be intimidated when facing one of the Lehigh Valley Conference's tri-champs.

The Pleasant Valley program has come too far to feel overwhelmed against anybody and that's due in large part to their coach, the energetic and ever-optimistic Jimmy Terwilliger.

The former East Stroudsburg University football standout was one of the best collegiate players the local stage has ever seen and now he's a rising star in the coaching profession.

Prior to Terwilliger taking over in Brodheadsville in 2009, the Bears had won just eight games over four seasons and were coming off a 1-9 mark in 2008.

Terwilliger took PV to a 5-5 record in his first season and to 8-3 and a district berth in 2010.

They have bounced back strong from a disappointing .500 season in 2011 and are coming to Orefield with confidence and enthusiasm after beating Stroudsburg in the second of back-to-back meetings between Mountain Valley Conference rivals.

Terwilliger, whose father Mike is the longtime offensive coordinator at ESU, has brought an offensive energy to the program.

However, for PV to contend for titles, it had to improve on defense and that's where Pacchioni, a former ESU teammate of Terwilliger's, comes in.

"We've played some real good offenses this year like Nazareth and Wyomissing, and it all comes to down to making tackles," Pacchioni said. "With our defense, if we miss tackles, we really hurt ourselves. If we make tackles, we can do a good job. Even last week when we won, we could have made things easier on ourselves by making tackles."

PV is still known for its offense, especially dual-threat quarterback Brandon Leap and unning back Austyn Borre, who has tied James Mungro for the MVC's rooking rushing TD record with 17 and at 1,220 is just 13 yards behind him for the MVC freshman rushing yardage mark.

But Pacchioni has the defense playing with passion and Parkland should know who players like Sekou Jones and Dakota Everett are by the end of the night.

"Sekou and Dakota have been terrific, but don't overlook our line, which features Marquis Brown, Ahmad Curtis, Mike Benner, Brian Joseph, Domminick Ammirato and a key reserve in Chris Hower," Pacchioni said. "They do a great job of keeping people off our linebackers. We've got some playmakers in Sekou, Dakota, Tony Bell, and Andrew Romeo and the unsung hero has our strong safety, Niko Huerta."

PV will need a lot of heroes to emerge to have a shot against Parkland, but Terwilliger has infused his kids with confidence.

"I look at it as a great opportunity for us," Terwilliger said. "You start your season with workouts in January and we have guys who have worked their tails off to put us in the position that we're in. I've been preaching all year that I want our guys to play in big games and we've had a number of them this year. None is bigger than this one.

"This group of seniors is the first class of kids I've coached here and they have bought into what we wanted to do. They've done everything right and they deserve this opportunity."

Jones, one of the seniors who have engineered the program's turnaround, said the game means a lot to entire Pleasant Valley community.

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