Valley goes through growing pains in Dave Heavner’s 1st season

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Sunday, November 27, 2022 | 11:20 AM


Dave Heavner wanted to make being a member of the Valley football team centered around expectations. Showing up and working hard at practice wasn’t going to be the be-all, end-all. To stick around, Heavner wanted the Vikings to show they were committed.

“We put some rules and regulations into place,” Heavner said. “We want players to have good attitudes, stay academically eligible and give great effort.”

Anything less than that wouldn’t be tolerated. The first year under Heavner would see a major adjustment for all those who played throughout the season. Valley started the season with 55 players and finished the year with 23.

The Vikings had their share of growing pains. Valley finished the season 1-9, including an 0-5 mark in the Class 3A Allegheny 6 Conference.

Heavner said there were many challenges for the players transitioning to his system.

“Verbiage along with understanding play calls and where to line up and where to be,” Heavner said. “We were working on fundamentals. It took time to learn. If you watch us on film, you’ll see we came out and executed early on but were worn down by having guys going both ways.”

Valley’s lone win of the season came against Uniontown, 20-13.

What was most important for the Vikings was putting building blocks into place for the future. Junior center Ryan Long anchored the offensive line.

Fellow junior Demetrius Ballard was a key contributor on the offensive and defensive lines. Wide receiver/defensive back Darnell Coaston also played well on both sides of the ball.

“We were working on a culture change and getting better each day,” Heavner said. “In the end, we were committed to the fight all year long. We never took a step backward. We never blinked. We gave it all we have.”

The challenge for Heavner and Valley is pushing the program forward. Getting participation up and having people buy into the program’s culture moving forward will determine how far things can go.

Heavner spent time with the Ar-Ken Rens youth program and pointed out that the middle school had an undefeated season.

“Ar-Ken had 130 kids as part of their system,” Heavner said. “There’s a lot of young football players, both male and female, which is exciting to see. Secondly, our middle school team went undefeated. That is important. They set the goals and have expectations for winning every game.”

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