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It will be hard to duplicate the phenomenal season the Valley football squad had in 2011-what with its 10-2 record, second-consecutive Pequot Sassacus title, and Class S semifinal appearance-but the youthful Warriors will certainly try their hardest to make that happen with hopes of bringing another conference crown to Valley Regional.
Losing several key players from its roster last fall-including quarterback and team MVP, All-Pequot defensive back, and Pequot Sassacus Player of the Year Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn; Lineman of the Year and all-conference guard Justus Doane, Offensive Player of the Year and all-conference player Jordan Saintil, plus all-conference defensive end Colin Devlin-the Warriors will be working to build up an already talented team behind Head Coach Tim King and assistants Paul Ginter, Kevin Woods, Steve Woods, Bob Narducci, Pete Woodcock, and Anthony Pagano.
"I think we have some pretty good kids at the skill positions," said King. "We just have to really slowly start developing and it's going to take awhile; we know that and especially with our offensive line, but we've got to start jelling. We're a little inexperienced here and there and we have to start getting it together as quickly as possible."
Leading the charge on the gridiron this fall will be senior captains Chris Connor (wide receiver/defensive back) and Matt O'Brien (defensive end/outside linebacker/running back) and junior captain Jean Luc Pollard, who will take over as the Warriors' quarterback. Also expected to contribute will be seniors Ricky Harrison (kicker/guard), Will Bogart (running back/linebacker), Randy Minard (defensive and offensive lineman), and Jeff Vincellette (offensive and defensive lineman).
"Jean Luc got some good playing time last year and Chris Connor was very good," said King of his veterans. "Chris Jean Pierre [receiver], Dave Peck [receiver] both also played last year and got some good experience and both have good hands and are good possession receivers, as is Evan Smith. Right now, our biggest question mark is our youth and inexperience mostly."
On top of the aforementioned players, King mentions Jackson Driscoll (junior lineman), Cole Turner (lineman), and sophomores Justin and Tyler Cheverier as players expected to put in quality playing time.
The Warriors will get their chance on opening night on Friday, Sept. 14 to prove themselves as they travel to North Branford to take on the Thunderbirds, another strong contender in the Pequot Sassacus Conference.
"North Branford is a very good team and we have to start with the first game and go from there," said King. "Every game is so important this year because we're playing with our youthful guys, but as the season goes on, hopefully we'll get that experience that carries us into a successful season. It's just a matter of the kids getting to where it clicks for them and they figure out they can play. I'd love to see game one won right off the bat and we'll start to roll right then. It all depends when the buzzer goes off and we see what we've got."