Valley Christian will see a slight change on the sidelines in 2020. Two-year head coach Kirk Sundberg announced his decision to take a co-head coaching position at his alma mater in Michigan, Grand Rapids Christian. With the move, Valley Christian has promoted defensive coordinator Jake Petersen to become the school’s seventh head football coach.
“For us the chance to move back home and raise our kids around family is something we have been praying about since leaving the Midwest ten years ago,” Sundberg stated in a letter to Trojan Football families. “While my family and I are very excited for what lies ahead, we are also leaving Valley Christian with many strong emotions and an immense gratitude for this experience, and for all of you.”
Coach Sundberg led the football program in an impressive turnaround the last two seasons. The Trojans went 17-7 in his two years after coming off consecutive 3-7 seasons. In 2018, Valley Christian won its first playoff game since the state championship team of 2009, won the region title, and advanced to the 3A Semifinals.
“I have all the confidence in the world that Christ will continue the good work that has begun within the VC football program,” Coach Sundberg said. “Hear me on this gang: YOU ARE JUST GETTING STARTED. God is at work in this school and in this program. There are amazing young men, families, coaches, and leaders who are poised and ready to step up and lean in to continue building this program – both in the hearts of young people and in competitive excellence on the field.”
Athletic Director Greg Haagsma stated, “We want to thank Coach Sundberg, his wife, Caroline, and their family for all that they’ve done and mean to our school the last two years. While bittersweet, we are excited for Coach Sundberg and his opportunity to lead his alma mater and be closer to his family back in Michigan.”
The Trojan offense put up impressive numbers under Coach Sundberg, but the defense stepped up under Coach Petersen to deliver performances void from Trojan Football since the championship teams of a decade ago.
“I am extremely honored and thankful to Valley Christian for this opportunity,” Coach Petersen said. “God planted the seed for me to come to Valley Christian before I even moved to Phoenix. I remember seeing the school on Friday Night Lights in 2005 while visiting Arizona and thinking ‘that is where I want to be’.”
“I appreciate the direction that Coach Sundberg has pointed the Trojan Football program,” Petersen continued. “I’m confident in our student-athletes and coaches to continue that work and build off that foundation.”
A native of Montana, Coach Petersen played collegiately at the University of Mary. He has a wealth of coaching experience across Arizona and first joined the Valley Christian staff in 2014.
“Coach Petersen brings a wealth of knowledge and a desire to realize the vision of Trojan Football that has been cast over the past two years,” Haagsma stated. “The culture has changed, and the vision has been cast – we’re both excited and confident in the future of Trojan Football under Coach Petersen.
Assistant Coach Michael Fraley, a member of the state championship coaching staffs who came back on board in 2018, has been named the Director of Football Operations.
“Coach Fraley is as passionate about Trojan Football as they come, and we’re excited for the impact he can have in our program and in the community in this new role,” Haagsma stated. “Both Coach Petersen and Coach Fraley were vital in the culture change and trajectory of our program the past two years and we are excited to see how they lead Valley Christian Football into the future.”
In addition to the coaching changes, Trojan Football will experience something else new this spring. As part of a $19.9 million capital campaign, the weight room will be enlarged and completely reinvented. The project will provide Valley Christian student-athletes with a weight room that will rate among the finest high school facilities for student-athlete performance in Arizona.