HIGGANUM >> Valley Regional/Old Lyme capped its first ever 11-0 regular season with a 48-0 Pequot Conference victory against Thanksgiving Day rivals Haddam-Killingworth Tuesday night.
It was the Warriors second undefeated regular season in four years. In 2010, Valley finished 10-0 and reached the Class S semifinals before losing to eventual state champion St. Joseph-Trumbull.
“Just to go undefeated in any conference is a tough task, especially this year where we had a lot of crossover games,” said Valley/Old Lyme coach Tim King. “The thing with the crossovers (Avon, Ellington, Gilbert) is you don’t know anything about them. It’s always a challenge. We played the toughest schedule we could play and to come out undefeated is pretty special to us.”
Valley senior quarterback Phil Cohen threw a pair of touchdown passes and had 101 yards rushing to pace the Warriors offense. Senior running back Tyler Jaynes and junior running back Justin Cheverier each had two touchdowns.
Junior receiver Chris Jean-Pierre also scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 61-yard punt return for a score early in the second quarter that gave Valley a 28-0 lead.
The Warriors outgained H-K, 313-101.
“The most important thing that we have this year is a balanced running game and a balanced passing game,” said Cohen. “Our line is unbelievable and our defense is the cherry on top of all of that.”
After short touchdown runs by Jaynes and Jean-Pierre gave Valley a 14-0 first quarter lead, Cohen found senior David Peck in the end zone for a 23 yard scoring toss.
A screen pass from Cohen to Cheverier turned into a 27 yard touchdown play with just 13 seconds left in the first half, giving Valley a 34-0 halftime advantage.
Valley’s vaunted defense held the Cougars to 87 yards rushing. Alex Segaline gained 34 yards on nine carries, and Lance Reinhardt had 24 yards on nine attempts for H-K (0-11).
“We’re inexperienced and it showed,” said H-K coach Dennis O’Rourke. “Valley’s a great football team and we played them tough. So I’m happy with our kid’s efforts. I’m proud of the way they were so resilient and kept playing every week.”
Valley, which leads the Thanksgiving series 27-9, retained the Principal’s Cup for the second year in a row. They have won the Cup five of the last six years.
The Warriors (11-0) are the top seed in the CIAC Class M playoffs and will host a quarterfinal contest on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Blythe Field in Deep River.
“I think they have the ability to do it all,” said O’Rourke. “I don’t know a lot about the other M schools that they’ll be playing but Valley’s a very talented, big, physical football team. So they have the tools to get it done.”
Said Cohen: “There were a ton of tough teams on our schedule this year. We knew what we had to do and I think that helped us work extra hard. We played with a chip on our shoulder. We just wanted to come out and execute one game at a time and just try to get the job done.”