1st-year Valley coach hopes to end 22-game losing streak
First-year Valley football coach Chad Walsh's new gig came tailor-made with motivational material in the form of one gigantic number — a number that, for the better part of three seasons, has grown like black-and-blue mold on a slice of soggy bread.
The number 22 never looked so hideous. The bedeviled digit represents the consecutive losses the Vikings have recorded since 2009, a bumpy benchmark worthy of refurbishing and a school record no one wants their name attached to.
Valley will move down to Class AA in the hopes of changing the culture quickly, although the team is young with only eight seniors.
“They're well aware of the losing streak, and they know they're not going to step on the field and intimidate anybody,” said Walsh, a former Valley assistant. “We need to prove ourselves and get Valley back to where it needs to be. We don't talk about (the streak) much, but we know it's there.
“We want to change the whole attitude and have the kids buy into everything.”
Walsh expects any upward surge to start with his skill positions.
“There are a lot of athletes there and our line is going to be better,” Walsh said.
Leading the charge will be junior quarterback Ty Matthews (6-foot-2, 218 pounds), a third-year starter who has been fearless running the ball and isn't afraid to extend a pass play.
Walsh plans to use multiple sets on offense with occasional shotgun formations and more passing with Matthews.
“I'd like to see us be more balanced,” Walsh said. “I'd like to use the run to open up the pass.”
Wide receiver Chaz Cheatham (6-2, 200) and tight end Khaanan Briggs (6-2, 205), seniors, will be viable targets.
Senior running back Jaden Walker, the top returning rusher, is back. So is junior Dylan Clarke, a key at fullback and inside linebacker.
Another tailback to watch is Rashaad Blair, a junior transfer from Keystone Oaks.
Other ball carriers to watch include junior Demetrius Houser and freshman D'Aundre Johnson.
Defensive coordinator Bill McGregor's defense will be a base 4-4 with off-and-on 3-5 looks, which will be a change.
“We've seen teams run it against us, and Mac's been wanting to try it,” Walsh said. “With some of our athletes, we think we can try it.”
Matthews and Briggs will be the defensive ends, while senior Kevin Frame is another key linebacker.
Junior Terrell Fields returns to anchor the line.
Walsh thinks Valley can gauge its strength four weeks in. It faces Burrell, Shady Side Academy and Freeport in consecutive games.