Valley/Old Lyme's Jean-Pierre is all over the map

Chris Jean-Pierre of Valley Regional/Old Lyme, top, catches a pass against Holy Cross during the Class S state semifinals in 2011. Today, Jean-Pierre and top-seeded Valley/Old Lyme take on No. 8 Quinebaug Valley in the Class M quarterfinals in Deep River.
Chris Jean-Pierre of Valley Regional/Old Lyme, top, catches a pass against Holy Cross during the Class S state semifinals in 2011. Today, Jean-Pierre and top-seeded Valley/Old Lyme take on No. 8 Quinebaug Valley in the Class M quarterfinals in Deep River. Day File Photo

Deep River - The versatile Chris Jean-Pierre was asked which football position he liked the best.

Jean-Pierre paused and looked at Valley Regional/Old Lyme defensive coordinator Paul Ginter.

"Say what you want," Ginter said. "Say receiver."

"I don't necessarily have a favorite position," Jean-Pierre said.

"You do - say, 'QB,'" Warriors coach Tim King interrupted.

"I don't have a particular favorite," the junior said diplomatically. "I just like playing anywhere they put me."

Eighth-seeded Quinebaug Valley will see a lot of Jean-Pierre in tonight's CIAC Class M quarterfinal against the No. 1 Warriors at 6:30.

Pierre plays receiver and cornerback, returns punts, is the punter and plays some quarterback when Valley/Old Lyme uses its Wildcat package.

"I can get it done at quarterback," Jean-Pierre said with a grin.

Jean-Pierre has been his team's Swiss Army knife, the perfect instrument for any chore. The 5-foot-11, 130-pounder caught a team-high 33 passes for 390 yards and five touchdowns. He's run for five touchdowns. He's sixth in tackles (82) and has four interceptions. He's completed both passes he's thrown (for 45 yards). And he's returned 15 punts for an average of 20.2 yards, scoring on a 61-yard return against Haddam-Killingworth in the regular-season finale.

Jean-Pierre added punter to his list of duties this season for Valley/Old Lyme (11-0). He's punted 21 times for an average of 39.7 yards. Eight landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

"I played soccer when I was younger," Jean-Pierre said. "I could kick, so I just tried out for punter freshman year and sophomore year, too. I kept kicking and got the punter job this year."

King said: "He's one of our top players. He has a pretty level head. He's Mr. Do-Everything for us. He was an all-league player for us as a sophomore. What a difference when it comes to returning punts. He's given us such great field position when he's back there and catches it."

The Warriors offense has been pretty balanced this season. Senior Phil Cohen has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,584 yards with 24 touchdowns. Junior Justin Cheverier has rushed for a team-high 854 yards with 19 touchdowns and has 15 catches for 302 yards and two scores. Senior David Peck has caught 24 passes for a team-high 503 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Junior linebackers Tyler and Justin Cheverier have been the team's leading tacklers (13.9 and 9.8 per game, respectively).

Quinebaug Valley is making its first playoff appearance since Putnam merged with the Tourtellotte/Ellis Tech co-op. It finished third in the Constitution State Conference (9-2).

The Pride has two 1,000-yard rushers, John Sanderson and Raiff Santerre. Sanderson has run 166 times for 1,240 yards and 13 touchdowns. Santerre has 144 carries for 1,061 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"They're pretty physical," King said of Quinebaug. "They're going to try to smash-mouth it with you, nothing fancy. They're pretty much going to run toss, iso, and try to pound you with it.

"(Sanderson and Santerre) don't get caught behind the line of scrimmage much. You're not going to stop them and go backwards with them. They're physical kids who run hard."

n.griffen@theday.com

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