By Frank Rizzo
GRAHAMSVILLE December 1, 2000 One thing kept Tri-Valley football players and coaches and fans hopeful as one close loss followed another this 2000 season: for the Bears to get to the Class D championship game was a matter of winning their last two games.
From the beginning of the year we knew there were three teams we needed to beat, said T-V coach Max Stolzenberg. Even when we were 06 we had a chance, and if we beat Roscoe and Livingston Manor we could go to the championship game.
After a season-opening 21-0 loss to Millbrook, the Bears lost their next five contests before clinching their fifth straight trip to the Class D title game with wins over Roscoe (28-14) and Livingston Manor (22-21 in overtime).
The record did not indicate how well we played, said Stolzenberg. We werent quite able to put it together. We werent getting blown off the field.
Our offense didnt do us any favors, he added. It wasnt coming together. We had a decent running game at times. We ground it out, but didnt make big plays.
Tri-Valleys mini-renaissance ended on the artificial surface of Kingstons Dietz Stadium, where it lost to Millbrook 25-6 on November 5 in the championship game.
Durk Pearston was in some ways the key athlete on the gridiron for the Bears. According to Stolzenberg, we built our defense around him. He roamed a lot as middle linebacker.
In addition to being the most valuable defensive player, Pearston shared the top offensive player award with quarterback Josh Lowitz.
Pearston rushed 137 times for 668 yards (4.9 average) and four TDs. He also returned an interception for a score, kicked two PATs and ran in three two-point conversions.
Lowitz came in late as quarterback and did a good job, Stolzenberg noted.
The senior completed 13 of 40 passes for 96 yards and two TDs along with three interceptions. He also added 110 rushing yards on 21 attempts (5.2 average). Lowitz ran for one TD and scored one two-point conversion.
Alex Felder, a junior, rushed 88 times for 543 yards (6.2 average) and four TDs. He also caught a TD pass.
Junior Alex Pearston added 189 yards on 41 carries (4.6 average) and caught a TD pass from Lowitz.
Until an injury knocked him out for the season, senior Billy Gorman directed T-Vs offense as the quarterback. He rushed for two TDs and returned an interception for a score.
Stolzenberg picked tackle Matt Cook as his top defensive linemen while guard/tackle Chris Cassidy was the top offensive lineman.