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Hake surfaces in EOAC

YOUNGSTOWN — A year after an in-school incident ended his successful coaching tenure at Western Reserve, Andy Hake is getting a second chance.

The veteran football coach hired to lead the Youngstown Christian football program on Wednesday despite a pending marijuana possession charge.

Valley Christian Schools President Mike Pecchia said the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference member knew of Hake’s lapse in judgment last year and welcomed a chance at giving him a shot at redemption.

“Redemption is the centerpiece of Christianity and a core tenet of Valley Christian Schools as we strive to transform the lives of our students through our guiding values of Love More, Expect More and Be More,” Pecchia said in a written statement. “After hours of meeting and talking with Andy and completing a thorough due diligence proces, we believe that Andy’s redemption story along with his obvious passion, energy, vast football knowledge and experience make him the right fit for our student-athletes on the football field.”

On Jan. 9, 2020, Hake, who taught in the Western Reserve district, stepped into the staff restroom along the middle school hallway and smoked an electronic cigarette containing THC, the main component in marijuana that causes a high, according to a disciplinary letter from the Western Reserve school district.

After complaints from co-workers, the middle and high school principals, Mike Sauner and Dallas Saunders, and the school resource officer, deputy sheriff Joel Gensler launched an investigation.

Hake then was removed from the school and placed on paid administrative leave. The disciplinary letter said video evidence showed Hake being the last to enter the restroom.

“The film confirmed that approximately two minutes after the bell rang to start second period, Mr. Hake entered the men’s staff restroom for a brief moment. When Mr. Hake exited the restroom he proceeded to his classroom (approximately 30 feet) to teach and supervise students,” the letter adds.

Hake then was removed from his classroom where he turned over the vape pen to Gensler and admitted to possessing the device, according to the letter.

The letter also states Hake said “he screwed up,” “he was sorry” and “he knew he shouldn’t have marijuana on him.”

Hake was charged with a minor misdemeanor of possession of marijuana on Dec. 10. He faces a maximum penalty of $150 in court costs and no jail time.

On Dec. 23, Hake pleaded not guilty to the charge. He is scheduled to return before Mahoning County Court Judge Joe Schiavoni on Feb. 4 in Sebring for pre-trial activities.

Valley Christian said Hake completed a five-month treatment program at the Neil Kennedy Treatment Center following the “serious mistake.”

Hake was 104-25 in 11 years as a head football coach. Hake won seven league championships and had nine playoff appearances which included two regional trips.

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