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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Warriors win ... now wait to see if they make Class SS playoffs

    Valley Regional defenders Matthew Cooper (36), Nicholas Cox (2), and Joseph Montazella (50) celebrate sacking Haddam-Killingworth's Alex Phipps in high school football action Tuesday, November 22, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Valley Regional’s Di’Angelo Jean-Pierre reels in a touchdown pass from quarterback Grady Lacourciere against Haddam-Killingworth in high school football action Tuesday, November 22, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Valley Regional quarterback Grady Lacourciere (12) releases a pass under pressure from Haddam-Killingworth's Jayden Fulton (64), and Nicholas Frasco (65) in high school football action Tuesday, November 22, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Valley Regional’s Joseph Montazella (50) rushes in to block a punt by Haddam-Killingworth's Joe Whiteside (55) in high school football action Tuesday, November 22, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Valley Regional’s Nicholas Cox (2) wraps-up Haddam-Killingworth's Alex Phipps (6) in high school football action Tuesday, November 22, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Haddam – This is the whole point. This, as Bill Parcells once told his players quite famously now, “is what you work all off season for. This is why you lift all them weights, why you do all that (stuff).”

    To get here, in the gales of November, against your rival school from up the road. To play in a game that would determine whether the playoffs are possible or mere folly.

    Valley Regional/Old Lyme wasn’t perfect, but was perfectly solid Tuesday night, earning what may become the program’s seventh state playoff berth with a 28-8 win over Haddam-Killingworth.

    And now the Warriors find themselves in the most ironic of positions, waiting until Wednesday night for the team that issued their only loss to actually win and secure a spot in the Class SS postseason.

    Yes, Valley/Old Lyme needs Cromwell/Portland to beat Rocky Hill to make the playoffs. The Warriors could earn a spot if Ledyard, Joel Barlow or Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic lose, too. But Rocky Hill against Cromwell (8-1) seems the best option.

    Can the Warriors say the words, “Let’s go Cromwell” with a straight face?

    “Yes, please, for the love of God, let’s go Cromwell,” Valley/Old Lyme coach Hill Gbunblee said.

    Senior Di’Angelo Jean-Pierre, the best player on the field in this game, said, “Cromwell, come on, bro. You gotta come through for us.’”

    If Cromwell comes through the way Jean-Pierre did, the Warriors have no worries.

    Jean Pierre caught six passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns and intercepted two passes, bringing one back 39 yards for a touchdown.

    “He makes all the difference for us. Such a great leader and player,” Gbunblee said. “That kid should be on everyone’s ballot.”

    Valley/Old Lyme also blocked two punts, both of which led to touchdowns. Joe Montazella blocked the first one in the first half, leading to Grady Lacourciere’s 6-yard scoring pass to Jean-Pierre that made it 14-0. Montazella fell on the other one in the end zone later in the game on a punt blocked by Jacob Rand.

    Now the Warriors wait and hope. Regardless, it was a 9-1 regular season.

    “I’m so incredibly proud of these kids,” Gbunblee said, “for everything they’ve been able to do how they bought in.”

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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