SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The more things change the more they stay the same.

“We have a lot of returning guys and this summer we’ve executed and worked really hard. We had a lot of guys stay up here in Springfield and put the work in.”

The Evangel Valor will be among the first to kick off the season, opening on a Thursday night against Clarke.

Doing so with a lot of last year’s squad running it back.

“The way the guys were working this summer, you can see some hunger within our program. And but we have a ton of guys returning that have played. I mean, you got probably anywhere from 12 to 15 on both sides of the ball.”

“The coaching staff, the players, and then the fact that my little brother, I get to play one more year with him. It’s just an amazing feeling to go out and win one last round with my brothers.”

What will be new for the Valor is a new starting quarterback.

Evangel will need to replace Dyllan Decker, who threw for more than 2,000 yards last season.

“People’s always asking what’s the big question mark obviously at the quarterback position, you know we’ll have a new signal caller and so we want to make sure that that young man is ready to go.”

And a new field, as Nixa laid down new grey turf.

“It is a little initially interesting on the eyes when you get out there. But you get over pretty quick. It just it’s all football once you get there.”

The changes will continue after this season though. It will be the Valor’s last ride before moving to the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Coach Hepola saying for the 2022 season, his heart is in the Heart.

“That doesn’t mean anything to me except for that we’re going to be, we’ll feel the same way about that conference that we’re going to try to respect that conference just like that. But we have the utmost respect for the conference we’re currently in right now. It feel like it’s about as good as it gets.”

The Valor kick off the season on Thursday, August 25, at home against Clarke.