Adams returns to Valley as football team’s new head coach

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 10:29 PM

Valley has a new head football coach.

The New Kensington-Arnold School Board voted 7-2 on Tuesday evening to hire Leechburg graduate and former Blue Devils and Southmoreland head coach Mark Adams.

“He was very impressive in the interview process,” said board member Scott Bussard, the head of the athletic committee. “He’s a good human being, and we look forward to him managing our program.”

Bussard said he hopes Adams can attend the April 27 athletic committee meeting, where he would be introduced.

Adams is no stranger to Valley, having coached as an assistant under former Vikings mentor Muzzy Colosimo in 2018 and 2019.

“It feels good to be back in the A-K Valley,” said Adams, who takes over for Dave Heavner, who parted ways with Valley, his alma mater, after one season. “It feels like home.”

Adams, who also served as an assistant coach at Greensburg Salem for 14 years, led Leechburg for four years starting in 2007.

He was 6-30 with the Blue Devils before stepping down in 2010.

Adams assisted Dom Pecora as the defensive coordinator at Southmoreland in 2011 and 2012 before ascending to the helm of the Scotties when Pecora left for East Allegheny before the 2013 season.

He was the head coach at Southmoreland for five seasons and went 12-34 overall. He went 4-6 in his first season with the Scotties. They were 4-5 in 2014 and missed the WPIAL Class AA playoffs by one game.

More recently, Adams coached at Yough as an assistant in 2020 and 2021 and was with Ringgold as an assistant in 2022.

Adams said he is excited to again immerse himself in the Valley community and get up to speed with the football program and its players.

“I had already contacted (Ringgold head coach) Marcus McCullough this evening to tell him I was leaving to take this position,” Adams said. “It was a bittersweet feeling. Marcus is a good man, and he’s doing a lot of good things with the Ringgold program, trying to right that ship. But I am excited to get to work at Valley and hit the ground running.

“Usually this time of the year, I am knee-deep in board work, the X’s and O’s and putting in the game plan for spring workouts. Such as it is, we will have to move quickly and get to know the coaching staff and the kids. There are a lot of really good athletes at Valley. I think the program is a sleeping giant.

“It’s exciting to know all the of the greats who have come through Valley High School and also the entire AK Valley. The rivalry with Burrell and teams like Deer Lakes and Freeport. Playing those teams, it’s so meaningful.”

Valley went 1-9 in 2022, with its only victory a nonconference triumph over Uniontown.

Heavner said despite a tough win-loss record, he was proud of the way he felt he and his coaching staff helped move the program forward, both on and off the field, and was excited to do more in future seasons.

However, Heavner said that through a postseason evaluation of his performance and from additional conversations, it was best that he move on from the program.

The position was opened, and the district began a months-long search for its new football coach.

The district advertised the opening online seeking applicants.

Board member John Cope said last month that the district received eight applications for the position and interviewed all of them.

From those eight, he said, the district narrowed the candidates down to two.

Bussard said the final round of interviews were conducted over the past couple of weeks, leading up to the board voting to hire Adams on Tuesday.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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