Valley football under new management

LUCASVILLE — First year Valley football coach Nolan Crabtree says the transition from being the Indians offensive coordinator — to becoming the head coach following the retirement of longtime coach Darren Crabtree — has been rather smooth.

Crabtree has been the head coach of the Valley baseball program since 2016 and is now tasked with continuing a winning tradition on the gridiron in Lucasville.

“There’s been a lot of changes, lot of things to try and get implemented. When I was hired back in January, that got things in motion and we’ve put together a pretty good coaching staff,” Crabtree said. “Our strength and conditioning coach Bryce Romanello really spearheaded what we had going on when I ws coaching baseball. Him and coach Paul Carver, those guys were here helping with the transition. Since the summer started, things have been pretty seamless. While we have implemeneted some new things, the relationships we have the kids has been a driving force.”

In his first season, Crabtree assumes a 36-man roster led by an extremely experienced 12-man senior class.

“Very fortunate to have this senior group to start with. They’ve had a lot of success, multiple multi-year starters on the football field,” Crabtree said. “Big time success in other sports. Having this group as your leaders is a big thing in helping ease the transition from Coach (Darren) Crabtree to myself.”

Two major focuses for the program this offseason have been the utilization of their new indoor facility, which allows for training no matter the outside weather, and remaining healthy.

With a roster of 36 that has several players who play both sides of the ball, health is of the utmost importance as the Indians vye for a third-straight postseason appearance.

“I can’t thank our board and school enough. The shot of life and energy it (facility) injected into our guys — they have everything at their disposal. Kids wanted to come and work out, get in shape. I’ll give Bryce (Romanello) a lot of credit for that. Having this place where they can come work out, it changes the feel and environment for everybody,” Crabtree said. “Health is going to be the single most determining factor on our success this season. We’ve talked about the senior class, a lot of them play both ways. We’ve only got three juniors in the program. A lot of younger guys behind them who are in support roles, trying to win a starting position. It’s very important to make sure the program is set up for sustained success and not just a one off year.”

Skill positions and both sides of the line is where Valley returns the most experience from last season.

Senior Justin Moore — a Boston University commit — along with seniors Levi Bush, Lakota Davis, and Levi Stewart anchor a big, physical group in the trenches.

“Up front, Justin Moore at starting offensive tackle and defensive end. Justin’s had a phenomenal offseason. Levi Bush at right guard, lost 50 pounds. He’s almost in the 1500 lbs. club in his three lifts, incredibly strong,” Crabtree said. “Lakota Davis at center, he’s throwing around massive weight, working his tail off. Little bit of competition at the other guard spot. Levi Stewart at the other tackle as a multi-year starter. We’ve got size and strength up front and they’ve all had a great offseason.”

Senior George Arnett assumes the Indians starting quarterback position — after playing there two games last season. Seniors Colt Buckle, Hunter Edwards, and Carter Nickel will be major factors in their offensive approach.

“George is starting for us at quarterback right now with Colt Buckle in the backfield, Carter Nickel and Hunter Edwards out wide with Jaekyn Ridout and Aiden Waugthel,” Crabtree said. “Those are the guys that are the lead guys right now with our offense. The last two games last year, George was the quarterback. It just has to do with the style of offense we’re running and Carter’s still taking some snaps.”

Valley opens the season with a home game against Portsmouth in week one — the annual opening game for Scioto County teams.

They’ll travel to Coal Grove in week two and Piketon in week three, before hosting Eastern (Pike) and Northwest in weeks four and five, respectively, to close out their non-league schedule.

In SOC II play, Valley hosts Waverly and Minford and will travel to Oak Hill, Portsmouth West, and Wheelersburg.

Remaining healthy and having four quarters of stamina will be big factors in their ultimate success, Crabtree believes.

“That’s going to be the difference for us. We’ve got to be able to play four quarters. In multiple games against heavy favorites in the league, those were all one or two score games at halftime — they were hard fought contests. The second half and the fourth quarter especially, that’s where the other team’s depth came through,” he said. “I feel like we’re in better shape at this point than we were last year.”

Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved