NEW HAVEN >> Many have high expectations for the Valley Regional football team this season.
The Warriors took the first step in fulfilling those on Thursday.
Valley Regional opened its season by cruising to 34-0 win over Pequot Conference foe Hyde at Wilbur Cross.
It took just four plays from scrimmage for the Warriors to strike. Junior Justin Cheverier found a hole and rushed for a 43-yard touchdown to put Valley Regional up 7-0. Hyde then drove 77 yards to Valley Regional’s 8-yard line, only to have quarterback Dwayne Hunter-Parker’s pass intercepted by Dan Figuenick.
“That was huge,” Valley Regional coach Tim King said. “We talked about that at halftime. It could have been 7-7 and that’s a whole different game. It took a little while to feel him (Hunter-Parker) out. But Danny’s interception was real big.”
The Warriors increased their lead 14-0 early in the second quarter. Cheverier caught a short pass on the left side from quarterback Phil Cohen, broke a couple of tackles and sprinted for a 50-yard score.
It would be the first of three Valley Regional touchdowns of the second. Figuenick scored on a 1-yard plunge. And with just under 20 seconds left in the half, Cohen found David Peck for a 17-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors led 28-0 at halftime.
They scored for the final time with 4 minutes left in the third. Cohen floated a pass up to wide receiver Chris Jean-Pierre, who reached over a Hyde defensive back to haul in the 24-yard touchdown. Jean-Pierre also came up with an impressive interception in the final quarter.
Cohen completed 12 of 15 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Cheverier finished with 75 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, while adding his 50-yard receiving score.
As for the Warriors defense, they came up with five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery to highlight the shutout.
“Experience has nothing to do with playing football,” Hyde coach Melvin Wells said. “Our kids know that. We thought matchup-wise we had a good opportunity to compete with them. They did a very nice job of game planning and making plays. The kids worked extremely hard. I’m not disappointed in their effort. I think we as coaches need to do a better job of preparing them.”
Hunter-Parker had 11 rushes for 79 yards, and Brandon Brantle had 41 yards on nine carries for Hyde.
The Howling Wolves lost several skill players from a team that reached the Class S semifinals last season and it showed on Thursday. Still, they should remain competitive. Hunter-Parker showed glimpses of his elusiveness (he had runs of 24 and 17 yards) and can complete passes, too (5 of 8 for 24 yards).
But opening up they year against the Warriors is no easy task. Despite what King called a lethargic performance filled with poor blocking, Valley Regional still won easily. And that’s no fault to Hyde. The Warriors are just that good.
The favorite to win the Pequot? Class M contenders?
“We try not to listen to the media and stuff,” Cohen said. “We know we have a pretty good team. We’re just going to try and keep moving forward and do the best we can.”
Valley Regional 34, Hyde 0
(at New Haven)
Valley Regional 7 21 6 0 — 34
Hyde 0 0 0 0 — 0
V—Justin Cheverier 43 run (Roche kick)
V—Justin Cheverier 50 pass from Phil Cohen (Roche kick)
V—Dan Figuenick 1 run (Roche kick)
V—David Peck 17 pass from Phil Cohen (Roche kick)Third quarter
V—Chris Jean-Pierre 24 pass from Phil Cohen (kick failed)
Team records: Hyde 0-1; Valley Regional 1-0