LUCASVILLE — Tre Bratchett is ready to ratchet up his game.
He’ll have an excellent opportunity to do that close to home, too.
That’s because Bratchett — a standout linebacker for the Valley Indians of the past four years — has officially announced his intention to play college football for Wittenberg University, which is located in Springfield and is a member of the NCAA Division III.
His official signing ceremony took place on Tuesday at a closed Valley High School, as he was flanked by his parents Robbie Bratchett and Melissa Holley and longtime Valley High School head football coach and athletic director Darren Crabtree.
Bratchett becomes the second Indian senior to sign to play college football, as he joins Mason Zaler —who signed on National Signing Day exactly three months ago — to play at NCAA Division II program Fairmont State.
Ordinarily, Bratchett would be joined by his fellow Valley teammates and friends for his signing ceremony, but the threat of the coronavirus has forced ALL of Ohio’s school districts to be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Valley has some excellent athletic facilities, and Bratchett believes that Wittenberg will indeed be quite comparable.
He said he chose the Tigers’ program because of its proximity to Scioto County, its brand new football facilities, and for its rich tradition.
Bratchett chose Wittenberg over Tiffin University and West Virginia State University in Institute, W. Va. — just outside of Charleston.
“I decided to commit to Wittenberg because, to me, it felt like home and I knew this is a program that has been successful over the years and they are well-known for their football. Both of those schools (Wittenberg and Tiffin) really caught my eye and they both had high interest in me,” he said. “West Virginia State was another school that also had interest in me, but it just didn’t have the home feeling compared to Wittenberg and Tiffin. I think what made me commit to Witt(enberg) was the fact that it was closer to home for me, and my family could come see me play more games. The brand new facilities that they just got was for sure a big statement for me to commit there, because I could see myself making good use out of the facility.”
Recruited as a linebacker, Bratchett will play for head coach Joe Fincham and assistant Andrew Kooi, the Tigers’ linebackers coach.
The Tigers are members of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAA) and employ a 4-3 defensive set, in which Bratchett’s intentions are to play inside linebacker.
But, the all-Southern Ohio Conference Division II and (Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association) all-Southeast District Division VI Honorable Mention selection “will play any linebacker position to help the team out as best as I can.”
Bratchett also knows what his areas of improvement are.
“I think for me going into the next level that I need to work on my speed and strength. I will for sure be going against bigger competition. I think my skills as a linebacker could improve a little bit, but overall, I feel like I’m ready to play at the next level,” he said. “I think I could see myself playing my freshman year as a backup and a starter on special teams.”
Crabtree stated that Bratchett “will fit in well with Wittenberg”.
“Tre was a soft-spoken leader, he led by example in the weight-room and at practice. He started at linebacker for the last three years, but he was definitely playing at a much-higher level this past season. He has battled some injuries but when he was healthy this year, he made a huge difference in our defense,” said the coach. “He has the ability to stop an opponents’ run game and also did a great job in pass coverage. We wish Tre the best of luck.”
Bratchett —who plans to major in Mechanical Engineering — believes “playing at Valley for four years has really helped me improve as a player and be a better teammate”.
“Coach Crabtree has taught me a lot over these four years as a better reader of offensive sets and knowing what the play will be. He did help me meet Coach (Andrew) Kooi, the linebacker coach at Wittenberg, and really started my recruitment from there,” he said. “I also want to thank (Valley assistant) Coach (Jason) Fell for all he has done for me.”
And now, as Bratchett has put pen to paper and inked his national Letter-Of-Intent to play for the Tigers, it’s time for him to ratchet up his game.
“My goals at Witt are to be able to get my major and give it my all for the football team and help them succeed in the upcoming seasons,” he said. “I am super excited to be a Tiger and I’m excited to see how we will do in the upcoming years.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved