Valley/OL clinches top seed
Haddam - There were moments during the offseason where Valley Regional/Old Lyme football coach Tim King thought about his team's schedule and groaned.
The Warriors had a tougher schedule than usual this season as the Pequot Football Conference both realigned its divisions and implemented crossovers. Valley/Old Lyme would play in the toughest of the three divisions and play the best from the others.
And that is why the second undefeated regular season in Valley/Old Lyme history was extra special to it. It blanked their old friends from Haddam-Killingworth on Tuesday night, 48-0, for its first 11-0 regular season, and clinched the top seed in next week's CIAC Class M playoffs.
"There were a ton of tough teams on our schedule this year," senior quarterback Phil Cohen said. "I think that helped us work extra hard in the process. Teams like Morgan (9-1). … Gilbert/Northwestern Regional, they're a great team. They have a great quarterback (John Lippincott) and running back (Tony Ortiz). We just played with a chip on our shoulder."
The Warriors finished 6-0 in the Pequot South and clinched the league championship.
Avon was the only team that managed to hang with Valley/Old Lyme for four quarters this fall (21-18).
The Warriors thrashed Morgan (51-6), which qualified for the Class S playoffs last week. They beat fellow Class M qualifier Gilbert/Northwestern Regional last week (35-0), one of three shutouts they had to end the regular season.
Valley/Old Lyme also routed Coginchaug (61-14), which will qualify for Class S if it wins its final game on Thanksgiving.
"To go undefeated in any conference is a tough task," King said. "Especially this year. We had a lot of crossovers. Avon, Ellington/Somers, they've all been in the playoffs in the past. Gilbert we knew was going to be tough.
"The big thing with the crossover games is you don't know anything about them. I haven't played Gilbert in 10 years, so it's always a challenge. ... 11-0 is pretty special to us."
Cohen completed 5 of 12 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns and ran seven times for 100 yards. Justin Cheverier had two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown and ran for a 10-yard score.
Cohen had back-to-back runs of 12 and 53 yards on the Warriors' first possession to get the ball to the Cougars' 1.
Senior Tyler Jaynes ran for a touchdown on the next play.
Junior Chris Jean Pierre caught a deep pass from Cohen for a 40-yard gain late in the first quarter. He took a direct snap 5 yards on the next play to push Valley/Old Lyme's lead to 14-0.
Senior David Peck caught a 23-yard touchdown from Cohen less than two minutes into the second quarter.
"We kind of went off the game plan," King said. "We wanted to run, and then it started to rain and we said, 'let's go quick.' Try to throw the ball and get some quick scores so that later on in the game we can run it and not worry about throwing it. And then if we fumble it, or it gets snotty or slippery, we have the lead."
The Warriors' defense forced H-K (0-11, 0-6) to go three-and-out on its next possession.
Pierre returned the ensuing punt for a 61-yard touchdown.
Cheverier turned a screen pass from Cohen into a 26-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left in the first half to extend the Warriors' lead to 34-0.
Cheverier and Jaynes both scored on 10-yard runs in the second half.
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