Highley Steps Down as Valley Coach
PINE GROVE – After two years at the helm, Shane Highley has stepped down as Valley High School’s head football coach. Highley has accepted a job as the Wetzel County Assistant Superintendent.
For him, it was a hard decision to leave behind a program that he has been with for the majority of his life.
“It was very difficult,” Highley said. “Ultimately, it came down to having little kids at home and they are starting to play sports. My wife also works and it was just wanting to be around my family.
“My goal with Valley was to restore some pride and restore some respect. I think we did that and there is still a little ways to go, but the kids have come a long way.”
The difference can be seen in his first year as head coach. Highley took over the Lumberjacks after a 3-7 2013 campaign. However, it did not take much time for Highley’s squad to turn a few heads. Valley started off quick and went into Week 7 with a record of 5-1 in which it won its first four games of the season.
Unfortunately, the high hopes were diminished after the Lumberjacks dropped their final four games to finish with a record of 5-5 in 2014.
“Those kids really worked hard and it was the start of the changed mindset,” Highley said. “Just looking back you learn a lot from those situations. That was a great year, but it was a blur, we learned a lot and grew a lot which was a spring board to the next year.”
The next year, 2015, became one for the history books. For the first time since 2004, Valley was playing in the second week of November. Just like the year prior, the Lumberjacks started off strong and were staring at a 4-1 record.
They then hit a wall and dropped the next two games and were on the brink of elimination.
This time, Valley finished the regular season out strong and won the final three games including the crucial season finale. The Lumberjacks finished the season 7-3 and won the 1A OVAC championship.
“It was great being from that area and playing there,” Highley said. “I wanted to bring the community back and get them excited for football again. That senior class had exceptional athletes, and put the time and effort in. They were really a great class. Those kids in the weight room now, have learned a lot and will use that for this season.”
Though the Cinderella story came to an end in the first round of the playoffs as Valley fell to South Harrison, Highley truly had some fond memories. And with his new position still in the area, don’t be too shocked when he makes an appearance on Friday nights.
“I’m still going to be around and still help out when they need help,” Highley said. “And I’ll be there Friday nights and be their No. 1 fan.”