Crabtree calls it a career


Valley football boss steps down after 32 years

By Paul Boggs - pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com



Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.


Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.


Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.


Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

LUCASVILLE — Darren Crabtree, simply put, has been an institution on The Reservation.

But — following 32 full years of donning headsets, pacing sidelines and cracking quality jokes with media members —Crabtree is calling it a decorated football coaching career.

That’s because Crabtree, after three decades-plus as Valley High School’s highly-successful and established head football coach, recently announced his retirement from that position —although he plans to remain on as the Indians’ athletic director for at least another year.

The 57-year-old Crabtree, in a recent interview with The Portsmouth Daily Times to discuss his retirement, said some feeling towards that decision actually began back in the summer months.

He said he didn’t want the post to become “a job”.

Crabtree, a 1983 Valley High School graduate, also underwent open-heart surgery — a four-way bypass procedure — seven years ago.

“After two-a-days (OHSAA mandatory football practices), I was getting home and being more tired than usual. As the season wore on, things became more apparent to me that this might be time to step away. I always told myself when it became more of a job, and it was like going to work, then it was time to move on. I just think the timing was right. A combination of different things, and I felt like I needed to step away,” said Crabtree. “Football is so different than every other sport. From December until June, you are in the weight room for four days a week. Then in June you are conditioning and lifting. Then July starts your 7-on-7s (passing scrimmages) and everything else. Once August 1 gets here, you go seven days a week until your season is over. A lot of things on your plate to try and continue to do. It’s time to slow down and take care of myself a little bit better. But 32 years of doing this, it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”

He’s enjoyed it indeed —due to several factors.

Crabtree — with at least two more years of teaching prior to full retirement from education — said the support of the Valley Local School District administration is at the top of the totem pole.

Of course, winning — and developing a thick skin — hasn’t hurt either.

“Being from Lucasville and knowing the people here, we’ve had great support from administration, the parents have been really good and obviously, we’ve had a lot of success with great players. You have to have good players, and we’ve had some great players that I’ve been able to coach from day one until even this year. I’ve had a number of different coaches that I’ve coached with here that have made things easier for me. Just a combination of those things have allowed me to stay, where a lot of guys unfortunately haven’t,” said Crabtree. “Social media has taken a toll on a lot of coaches. Every time you go on the computer and read on the Internet, there is somebody saying something about you. You have to be thick-skinned to stay in this business. If you make a call and it goes for a touchdown, you’re the greatest coach alive. You run the same play, kid drops the pass in the end zone, then you’re asked immediately what did you throw the ball for? There’s always that second-guessing by people. But for the most part, we’ve had really great support.”

To last three decades and into a fourth, in today’s day and age quite frankly, you would have to have that.

The 1990 season was his first at Valley, the 1992 campaign was his first of eight undefeated regular seasons, and the 2014 fall ended with a Division VI regional championship — and subsequent state semifinal appearance.

He captured 240 career wins against only 112 losses, and won a combined 11 Southern Ohio Conference Division I (eight) and II (three) championships.

His eight undefeated regular seasons include 1992, a four-year and 40-game win streak from 1996 thru 1999, and again in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — the latter of which coincided with the three SOC II titles, and a three-year winning streak against powerhouse Wheelersburg.

Crabtree’s Indians appeared in the state playoffs a dozen times, won 14 playoff games, and 20 times Valley amounted seven or more wins.

He reflected upon some of his fondest memories.

“In 1992, we were coming off 1-9 and 2-8 seasons my first two years. That undefeated season was very special. It opened things up for us, that what we were doing is the right way to do this. We were teaching kids how to play football, and as they get older, then you can win games. The 40 straight games in the late-1990s when we won four straight league championships and went to the playoffs four years in a row was a great period in our history. Then we won 36 games in a row from 2011 thru 2013, and beat Wheelersburg three years in a row,” said Crabtree. “A lot of big wins in those games. I think we were regional runners-up four times, then finally got over that hurdle in 2014 and got to the Final Four. By then, we felt like our program had established itself as year-in and year-out we’re going to compete with good programs.”

And, Crabtree’s clubs have basically showcased the same philosophies all these falls.

That’s traditionally been playing good defense, running the football first, and controlling the lines of scrimmage.

“We haven’t changed a lot in our schemes and systems, especially the last probably 10 to 12 years. Whenever we have people we can plug in, then we teach them what we know,” said the coach. “I’m not reinventing the wheel and going five wide receivers and throwing it 50 times a game. That’s not what we do. As a coach, you have to be able to adapt your talent level to your scheme. We’ve been able to take what players we’ve had, fit them into our system and make a few adjustments, and it’s been able to work. We’ve always hung our hats on playing good, sound, physical and hard-nosed defense. When we’ve had great quarterbacks, we weren’t throwing it 40 times a game. It just made things so much easier offensively and work better.”

Crabtree was also asked what he will miss most about the Friday night lights —and even some Saturday nights and the season opener playing Portsmouth on Thursday night.

“You get into high school football coaching because you love the game of football. I think I will miss the day-to-day practice part of it. Being around kids, trying to teach them things about football, that part of it keeps you young,” he said. “The Friday nights, walking out on the field and being on the sidelines and competing against our area coaches, that part I know I’ll miss.”

But still, as the Valley High School Athletic Director which he has been since 2014 and following a first stint from 1997 until 2008, Crabtree will remain highly visible on The Reservation.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Crabtree. “It’s just time to step away from football coaching, though.”

Indeed, an Indian institution —and a legend —has called it a coaching career.

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Darren-Crabtree-B-and-W.jpgDarren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach. Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Darren-Crabtree-w-QB.jpgDarren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach. Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography

Darren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Darren-Crabtree-.jpgDarren Crabtree, following 32 seasons and with 240 career victories, is retiring as Valley High School’s head football coach. Courtesy of Patrick Phillips, Glory Days Photography
Valley football boss steps down after 32 years

By Paul Boggs

pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved