Valley Christian Turn Around

The Valley Christian Eagles have experienced a tremendous turnaround. The Eagles have gone from experiencing a dreadful 2-8 team back in 2019 to a league contender with a perfect 7-0 mark this year.

Over the past three years, the Eagles have become one of the most improved football programs in the EOAC and all of the Mahoning Valley. Following that 2-8 record in 2019, they limped through the 2020 covid season with a disappointing 2-6 mark, and then enjoyed some success with a 7-3 record last year.

The development of players like Jon’Trell Mixon, VeShun Gurley, Phillip Spradley, Tyree Washington, and Jhordan Peete who experienced those rough and difficult losing seasons, have emerged to lead a team that is not only looking to win an EOAC title but to make some noise in the playoffs.

The hiring of Andy Hake as the head coach in 2021 is not a coincidence to the turnaround. Although Hake may carry some controversy with him, his ability to get his football teams to play at a high level is unquestionable. While leading the Western Reserve Blue Devils, they reached the playoffs nine times, reaching the state semi-finals twice.

Even in those losing seasons of 2018-2019, the Eagles had tremendous playmakers who could score from anywhere on the field. The lack of playing both physically and disciplined football seemed to be their Achilles Heel.

“No question, they are a much-improved team from three years ago before Andy got there,” Columbiana’s Bob Spaite remarked. “We beat them two years ago where we were able to take advantage of some things that they weren’t fundamentally sound. That’s not the case now.”

"No question, they are a much-improved team from three years ago before Andy got there,”

- Columbiana Clippers Coach Bob Spaite

The Eagle’s line play has not only been fundamentally sound, but the lineup of senior Kyle Kornell at center, along with senior Sammy Washington at left tackle, junior Jemel Jenkins at left guard, freshman Marcus Merchant at right guard, and junior Zion Rogers at right tackle is also a very physical group that has dominated the line of scrimmage this year. Add in the massive senior tight end Jon’trell Mixon at 6’3, 240 pounds, who can both run block and has soft hands to catch the ball in the passing game, it makes the Eagles’ offense difficult to stop.

“Coach Powell and coach Mike Matovich do a great job. Coach Pitts does a great job. We need to do everything together, that was our big focal point. This is the first year I worked with the line in a long time,” Hake praised his coaching staff.

He continued, “You could see we had great skill. Maybe better than anyone else in the league. Southern has great skill players too. Their running backs are great. But I really like my skill, but we had to get our line ready to go. The line has answered the call.”

With the Eagle’s line developing into a formidable force in the league, they have averaged over 363 yards per game, second only to the Southern Indians in total offense. They are also second in rushing offense at 190 yards per game behind Southern and second in passing behind United with 173 yards per game.

“We’re getting better every week,” Hake said. “I like our team.”

​The Eagles will get to showcase their improved team this Friday night in the WKBN “Game of the Week” when they play at Southern for first place in the EOAC. Win or lose, the Eagles have made huge strides and will be a program to deal with going forward.