Coach House to lead a new but familiar era for Valley’s defense

Published 11:50 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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After Marshon Harper decided to retire recently, it was evident that a new era was coming to Valley High School. That new era has begun, but the defense that Harper left behind at Valley High School is going to be led by a familiar face. 

Harper’s retirement left a hole to fill for Valley’s basketball team, and the defensive coordinator position for the football team also had to be filled. Head coach Adam Hunter decided to put long-time assistant coach Jonah House in charge of Valley’s defense. 

House has served as a coach in Chambers County for 22 years, serving at LaFayette for 10 years before serving 12 years at Valley High School. 

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House has held several different positions on Valley’s coaching staff, with his most recent position being the defensive line coach. Harper and House worked side-by-side on Valley’s defense,  and the defensive scheme will stay similar to Harper’s defense. 

“We’re still going to base out of a three-man front just like coach Harper’s defense,” House said. “We’re going to use a lot of his stuff that he brought here years back.” 

House and Harper developed a close relationship over the years. The pair worked together and constantly made adjustments to Valley’s defense. 

House and Harper learned from each other over the past decade. House plans to instill many of the things that Harper had put in place with Valley’s defense, but he also wants to add his own tweaks along the way. 

“I’ve had the chance to work with him for the past 10 years,” House said. “We’ve worked together on this thing for the last few years and tinkered with it. He’s shown me a lot, and we’re going to keep a lot of the same verbiage to make it simple for the kids. We will do some little things differently here and there.” 

Like Harper, House is a Valley guy through and through. House graduated from and played football at Valley High School and is the true definition of a Ram. 

When other opportunities came along throughout the years, House just could not put his love for his hometown aside. That loyalty has kept House in Chambers County for more than two decades. 

“I didn’t want to leave here,” House said. “I enjoy this place [and] my family is here. I didn’t want to chase the whole coaching thing, I just wanted to stay home.” 

Being from the area and coaching at Valley for so long has created a lot of familiarity for House. House already knows the parents of most of Valley’s players. Any time House has an issue with a player, he can always call the parents and the parents can call him with any issue they have. 

“A lot of times you get a kid that you either played with a parent or know a parent…,” House said. “I think that’s huge. You can tell the values of a kid by his last name. It’s beneficial. If I have a problem with the kid, I call the parent.” 

Staying in the area has allowed House to build special relationships with his players. House has an understanding of where these kids come from, what they go through and how he can help them each day. 

“If a kid plays for me, his number is in my cell phone,” House said. “That’s big. I’ve built a lot of good relationships with these kids.” 

House is set to fill the defensive coordinator spot for the Rams, but he also has to fill several holes in his defense. 

Jay Harper, Ian Crim-Davis and Cam Dooley are key departures as they each are set to play collegiate football next season. Galvin Goss and Zan Woody are two of a few key returns in Valley’s secondary and will be relied on heavily. 

“Secondary-wise, we’re replacing a lot with Dooley, Jay Harper and Ian,” House said. “We have Galvin Goss, who’s being recruited by a bunch of schools. Zan Woody will be back at safety. They both have experience. Zan has a little bit of outside linebacker experience, so he’ll play both.” 

The defensive line is set to be one of Valley’s strong points next season. The Rams are replacing Robert White and Xavier Smith, but they also return a lot of experience with Antwan Greenwood. 

Greenwood has been a force for Valley, and he will be one of the team’s leaders as a senior next season. 

“Up front, I have to replace two guys that I’ve coached since day one,” House said. “I thought a lot of Robert White and [Xavier Smith]. We have Greenwood returning. He’s kind of my leader up front. He averaged about 3-4 tackles a game last year. I need that to double.” 

Jaylan Roberts will fill in at nose guard next season. Antwan Hatchett will also see a lot of playing time on the defensive line after mostly serving as a backup in the past. 

Some may be tempering expectations for Valley’s defense after all the key departures, but House is not one of those people. House knows that replacing some of the graduates will be tough, but he also believes that the defense can still be a strength for the Rams. 

“You never want to rebuild, you just want to reload,” House said. “I just want to plug those new guys in. You’re going to miss a step. You don’t send a guy to a Division I school and replace them the next year and not miss a step. That’s part of it. We hope the staff will coach them up, and we’ll keep the same hard-nosed mentality.”