YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Coach Andy Hake begins his second season at Valley Christian. After a 7-2 regular season, the Eagles fell in the opening round at Cuyahoga Heights by just three-points (16-13) in the playoffs a year ago. Prior to his arrival, the Eagles were unable to register a winning season for the previous eight years (2013-20).
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement in the program from year-one to year-two,” states coach Hake, “especially in the weight room. The kids are getting familiar with how we want things done and are being accountable. We’ll need a great effort this summer in order to have the season we want and expect to have. The strength is their belief in this program.”
Valley Christian must replace their starting quarterback (Joey Battista) and leading rusher (Cameron Davenport).
“Jhordan Peete will our quarterback this year,” says Hake. “We feel that he’s taken on this role very seriously. He’s a natural leader. We expect big things from him this season. Jon’Trell Mixon will also get snaps at quarterback, too. Freshman Ike Lake will be a weapon for us as he gets more experience and confidence.”
At the skill positions, Jon’Qual Pabellon and Tyree Washington along with Ja’Sean Lindsey each return to their running back positions. Catching the football will be Jon’Trell Mixon at tight end and Kendail Clarke, VeShun Gurley and Phillip Spradley at the wide out spots.
Lindsey and Gurley both had impressive 2021 seasons. Lindsey rushed for 438 yards on 68 carries (6.4 avg) and scored 5 times on the ground. Gurley caught 25 passes for 644 yards which accounted for an incredible 25.8 yards per catch. He also scored 9 times through the air.
The offensive line returns four letter winners in Kyle Cornell, Zion Rodges, Sammy Washington and Alfred Coward.
The defense held the opposition to 20-points or less in seven outings a year ago, which included a pair of shutouts against Wellsville (19-0) and East Palestine (37-0) in back-to-back weeks. The Eagles will welcome back linebacker Brian Tubbs (42 tackles) and defensive linemen Jon’Trell Mixon (39 tackles, 4 QB sacks) and Jon’Qual Pabellon (31 tackles, 5 QB sacks).
“If we’re going to be great,” Hake indicates, “we’ll have to excel here. Our defense should feature some great athletes with loads of experience. The challenge for us will be playing team ball at all times. Staying humble and getting after it. We’ll demand great effort from our kids and if they answer the call, we could have the possibility to having a tremendous season. The majority of our kids are tough city kids that aren’t afraid of contact and won’t back down. Our opponent will never be our worst enemy, it will be us and we need to always focus on us to fix problems.”
The Eagles begin the 2022 season with a matchup against Campbell Memorial.
Valley Christian Eagles
Head Coach: Andy Hake, 2nd season at Valley Christian (7-3)
2021 Record: 7-3 (5-1), 3rd place in EOAC
Last 5 Years: 21-29 (42%)
Home Field: John Knapick Field
League: Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference
Base Offense: Multiple back sets
Base Defense: Multiple 4-man front
2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 29.8 (23rd in Area)
Scoring Defense: 19.6 (21st in Area)
Total Offense: 294.5
Rushing Offense: 122.3
Passing Offense: 172.2
2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Joey Battista – 1582 yards, 48.2% (81-168), 16 TDs
Rushing: Cam Davenport – 481 yards, 6.5 avg, 7 TDs
Receiving: VeShun Gurley – 644 yards, 25.8 avg, 9 TDs
Tackles: Brian Tubbs – 42
Cuyahoga Heights 16 Eagles 13*
Eagles 37 East Palestine 0
Eagles 19 Wellsville 0
Southern 46 Eagles 22
Eagles 35 Columbiana 20
Eagles 34 Leetonia 14
Eagles 28 Leetonia 19
Eagles 53 McDonald 34
LaBrae 41 Eagles 21
Eagles 36 Campbell Memorial 6
2021 EOAC Standings
United – 6-0 (8-2)
Southern – 6-1 (8-4)
Valley Christian – 5-1 (7-3)
Wellsville – 4-3 (4-4)
Columbiana – 2-4 (3-6)
Lisbon – 2-5 (2-7)
Leetonia – 1-5 (2-5)
East Palestine – 0-7 (0-10)
Aug. 19 – at Campbell Memorial
Aug. 26 – at LaBrae
Sept. 2 – at McDonald
Sept. 10 – United
Sept. 17 – Lisbon
Sept. 24 – Leetonia
Sept. 30 – at Columbiana
Oct. 7 – at Southern
Oct. 14 – at Wellsville
Oct. 22 – East Palestine