The 2017 football season didn’t get off on the right foot for the Valley Indians last Thursday, but Valley hasn’t hung their heads after a loss on the road to Portsmouth.
Instead, the Indians got right back to work following the 35-7 defeat to the Trojans. Although the season opener didn’t go the way they wanted it to, Valley has worked hard in practice all week in preparation for their next opponent: the Coal Grove Hornets.
Head coach Darren Crabtree said his team has responded well leading up to the game. “I think they all understand that what we showed last Thursday is not what we want people to think about our football program,” Crabtree said. “There were times that we did play hard, we just didn’t execute.”
Valley was limited to just 100 yards of total offense and five first downs in the loss to Portsmouth, so offense has been a big focus for the Indians ahead of their game this week.
“Offensively we’ve been working on our offensive line play, trying to become more physical, getting off the ball a little quicker,” Crabtree said. “For us to be successful, we have to play a little smarter, we have to execute better.”
The offensive line was a group that Crabtree hopes can step their game up against the Hornets this week. “If you can control the line of scrimmage, you’ve got a good chance of doing some things offensively. Last week, we could not control the line of scrimmage and we were limited in what we could do, especially in the running game,” Crabtree said. “That’s one of the issues we felt like we really needed to correct for this week.”
Expect the Indians to try and involve their running back Gabe Streeter more in this game. Streeter was held to just one rushing yard on four carries against Portsmouth, but did score on a kickoff return.
“We’ve got to try and get Gabe more involved early,” Crabtree said about his playmaker.
Coal Grove’s offense looked to have no issues in their season opener. The Hornets defeated Buffalo (WV) with ease, 51-6. Coal Grove led 45-0 at halftime in that contest.
Kyle Sites had himself a day for the Hornets in that game with five total touchdowns. Sites rushed six times for 121 yards, scoring three of those touchdowns on the ground. He added his final two touchdowns with receptions of 17 and 9 yards.
The Hornets certainly have multiple weapons in the backfield, and Crabtree is well aware of that fact. “They’ve got a very nice running game,” Crabtree said. “They’ve got two or three kids in the backfield that have enough speed where it concerns us very much.”
The defense of Coal Grove put on a show in their first win, too. The Hornets held Buffalo to just six points, all of which came in the second half.
Crabtree was impressed with Coal Grove’s defense, too. “They play well on both sides of the ball,” Crabtree said. “We have to come there with a better game plan and be able to execute much better this week for us to get a win.”
The Hornets are led by a first year head coach in Evan Ferguson. Ferguson played quarterback at Coal Grove, and led the Hornets to their last playoff appearance in 2010.
A first year head coach in Ferguson is the polar opposite to Crabtree, who has been at the helm with the Indians for nearly as long as Ferguson has been alive.
However, Crabtree said that experience won’t have a big impact on the game. “I think as far as experience goes, yeah, the edge goes to our staff in years of experience,” Crabtree said. “There may be some situations where we may be able to handle it better than they can, but as far as that being a difference in the game I don’t see that being a factor.”
Some factors that Crabtree said will make a difference is the play of the offense, particularly up front on the line. “We’ve got to put points up,” Crabtree said. “We’ve got to be able to control our line of scrimmage and get the ball in our playmakers’ hands.”
On top of playing better offensively, Crabtree said some early success will go a long way for his team as well in this game. “We need some success early to try and get our confidence back up offensively,” Crabtree said. “I think if we can do those things we’re going to give ourselves a great chance to win.”
Valley (0-1) will travel to Coal Grove (1-0) Friday night at 7 p.m.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT