E.A. Sports Today

A look back – Pleasant Valley

EDITOR’S NOTE: The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down these past few months and the absence of sports has been tough on avid sports fans. We can only hope the football seasons can go off as scheduled this fall. As we wait, there has been plenty of time to reflect on high school football in Calhoun County.
The following is part of a 14-part series compiled by East Alabama Sports Today contributor Brant Locklier that looks back on the past decade of football for each of the 13 county football-playing schools. The 2020 season that may or may not be will be center stage for the first time at the Calhoun County QB Club Media Day July 24.
Special thanks goes to Ashleigh Jackson, who keyed in all the scores and the website, “The History of Alabama High School Football,” for their information. 

Pleasant Valley – The Sun is Starting to Shine

Summary: Three winning seasons in history for the Raiders program. The 2007 season was the last season Pleasant Valley finished over .500 with a 7-4 mark. Things have been bleak over the 37 years that the program has existed, with 13 seasons of 1-9 or worse.

However, the sun is starting to shine. Head coach Jonathan Nix took over the program in 2015 after a successful 30-5 run in three seasons at Ragland. His first team at PV went 0-10, then 2-8 and then the next three years have been 4-6, 5-5 and 5-5.

He has improved the facilities greatly and the team has gotten stronger and faster. The only problem has been that they have been in a region that has included the likes of Piedmont, Randolph County, Wellborn, Saks and Weaver that have arguably had their best teams ever during this last decade. The state champion or finalist has regularly come from their region.

But the team has improved each year under Nix and the sun is starting to rise. The Raiders jumped out to a 5-1 start and were looking to crack the top four teams in the region. A tough 20-19 loss to B.B. Comer in week seven set the stage for three more losses to powers Walter Wellborn (12-2), Ohatchee (10-1) and Randolph County (11-2). In fact, four of their losses came against teams with a combined 47-6 record on the season and one state champion.

One advantage of being in a region like this is that you can clearly see what you have to do to compete against teams on these levels and what you have to do to stay there year-after-year.

Three straight years of improvement have laid the groundwork for 2017 and a possible signature win against a power school and a possible play-off appearance.

Pleasant Valley has gone from being outscored 458-154 in 2015 to outscoring their opponents 300- 240 in 2019. One can see the sun starting to peek above the horizon.

High Point: The high point of the decade came in 2019 with four straight impressive early season wins over Weaver (59-13), Saks (34-14), Gaston (44-0) and Glencoe (47-7) and a 5-1 mark to start the season. Only the 1994 team had a better start at 6-1.

Low Point: Probably came at the end of the 0-10, 2015 season when the Raiders dropped their final game 40-33 at home against Gaston. The Raiders were determined however and regrouped to win the 2016 season opener and then dropped their final eight games of the 2016 season.

Home Record: The Raiders finished the decade at 19-31 at home, averaging 22 points a game and allowing 26 points a game. There were 1-4 in 2019, one of their better seasons. They were 1-16 against Piedmont, Jacksonville, Saks, Randolph County and Weaver during the decade. This left them with an 18-15 mark at home against non-ranked teams. This, again, tells you the toughness of their schedule.

Away Record: The team was 15-36 on the road during the decade allowing 34 points a game while only scoring 20 points a game. That mark was 4-1 in 2019 and the Raiders outscored their opponents 45-20. In back-to-back weeks, they won two road games over Gaston and Glencoe by a combined score of 91-7

Play-Offs:The only play-off appearance of the decade came in 2010 and they lost at Reeltown 45-6. The Raiders were 4-4 in Region play and drew a No. 1 seed in that opening round.

Streaks: The Raiders had one bad streak 12 straight regular season losses in 2014-2015, while having a 17-game road losing streak in the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons. Their longest win streak came in 2019 as they won four straight games during the regular season.

Coaches: Jeff Davis, who came to Pleasant Valley in 2005, was the coach from 2010-2014. Jonathan Nix has been the coach since. Davis was 35-68 for his tenure as the Raider coach. Nix is 16-34 in his first five seasons.

Players: Offensive lineman Cole Proper was a first team all-state performer in 2019, as was defensive back Zack Atherton in 2010. Running back Kyle Beam (2010), linebacker Alex Parris (2018), linebacker Carson Brazier (2918) and wide receiver Colby Nelson (2019) have earned honorable mention all-state awards over the decade.

Toughest Opponent:Wellborn defeated the Raiders seven times in the decade, with the lone Raider win coming in the 27-26 game in 2018. Piedmont was a perfect 6-0, while Westbrook Christian was 5-0 in the decade against the Raiders.

Easiest Opponent:Pleasant Valley started the decade out with five straight wins against Ohatchee, but then lost five straight to end the decade. The Raiders went 5-3 against Gaston and were 3-1 against West End of Walnut Grove.

Best Offense: The 2019 offense could score some points. They averaged over 40 points a game through their first six games, which included a 28-0 shutout loss to Piedmont. They ended the season with a decade-best average of 30 points a game. The only other team close to that mark was the 2018 team that averaged 28 points a game.

Best Defense- The defense of 2017 only gave up 22 points a game. They had five games in which they gave up 20 points or less.

Best Team – We will go with the 2019 team as the best team of the decade. They lost their last four games against quality opponents and showed a strong offense and a tough defense. Their 2020 schedule includes five play-off teams plus Saks, so they are approaching the next decade with optimism that they can break in the top four in their region and contend for a state title.
2020 Pleasant Valley Schedule
(Pre-pandemic, opponent 2019 record in parenthesis)
Aug. 21 – vs. Donoho (10-2)
08-28 – at West End (4-6)
09-04 – at Hokes Bluff (7-4)
09-11 – at Weaver (0-10)
09-18 – vs. Wellborn (12-2)
09-25 – Open
10-02 – vs. Saks (4-5)
10-09 – vs. Piedmont (14-1)
10-16 – at Ohatchee (10-1)
10-23 – vs. Glencoe (1-9)
10-30 – vs. White Plains (3-7)

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