Ben Murphy
Contributing Writer

(Photo provided)

The Maple Valley football team is in a big transition this off-season. The Lions are making the switch back to 11-player football after spending the last five seasons in 8-player. They’ll also welcome in a new head coach, as Trent Harvey was recently named their new varsity head coach.

“I’m extremely excited,” Harvey said. “I am very excited to be where I got to play high school football and work with the kids. I have a great coaching staff and the families are very supportive. The seniors have been working tremendously hard, they’ve been in the weight room and doing (off-season) workout drills, so I’m extremely proud of them. Stepping into a position like this, it is nice to have that.”

After Harvey’s playing days as an offensive and defensive lineman at M-V, he moved on to play those positions at Olivet College. He has 17 years coaching in high school football, having most recently served as the offensive line coach at M-V back in their final season of 11-man play. Harvey is also the principal at Fuller Street and Maplewood Elementaries.

Off-season plans have been in full swing since his hiring this spring.

“We have some great assistant coaches, they’ve opened up the weight room and we are very ecstatic with what has been going on (in the off-season,” Harvey said.

The veteran coach does enter a bit of a unique situation, as the program jumps back into the 11-player game. The Lions were an 8-player team the last five seasons, including going 7-2 overall last fall.

“I’m really excited that we are jumping back to 11-man football,” Harvey said. “We really got a lot of support from administration, the parents and the kids. I think it is going to be a really good thing. We have 45 kids right now signed up for football, we are really excited about that and hopefully we keep those numbers through the summer and into the football season.”

And considering nearly all of Harvey’s coaching experience comes in the 11-player game, it should only help make the transition seamless.

“I never really coached much in 8-man football,” he said. “We have some really great kids putting a lot of time in, so I don’t think it will be a big change. The change was made before I was hired, and I fully support moving back to 11-man. So, I’m really excited for it.”

The Lions’ first official practice will be Aug. 12. They play their first game at Potterville on Aug. 29. M-V expects to have as many as 10 seniors come out for the team as Harvey attempts to get them ready for their Big 8 Conference games.

“The seniors have started off so well for us, I think we will be in a really good spot,” he said. “We are just hoping the numbers keep growing more and more. It has been great to be hired and we have a lot of support from everyone and we are excited to get going.”