NEW HAVEN >> Hyde/Career/Whitney Tech junior defensive lineman De’Shawn Stokes did not play during the first half against Valley Regional/Old Lyme Saturday due to disciplinary reasons.
But after halftime, Stokes, who played primarily on the junior varsity last season, looked like a seasoned veteran. He recorded two sacks in a critical series late in the fourth quarter to help the Howling Wolves shut out the Warriors, the defending Class S-Large state champs, 13-0 in a Pequot Conference South Division victory at Marone/Barbarito Field.
“He had missed a practice and he had to sit,” said Brandon McCormick, who picked up his first win as head coach at Hyde. “I don’t know if that drove a fire underneath him, but when he came in in the second half, he really did a nice job of making plays when they needed to be made. He’s a strong kid. He’s worked hard to get where he is. He really did a nice job for us defensively.”
Stokes sacked quarterback Mike Cullina on Valley’s first play of the game’s final drive. After the Warriors converted a fourth down that brought the ball into Howling Wolves territory, Stokes again sacked Mike Cullina, this time for a 10-yard loss.
“I was pretty ready to play defense on the varsity level,” Stokes said. “I did good on JV, so I think I was prepared to play varsity.”
Kevin Roman also had a sack for Hyde on the Warriors’ final possession. Valley completed a pass on fourth down but was short of the marker and the Howling Wolves took over.
“They just got after it,” Valley coach Tim King said. “There’s no doubt about it. They fly to the ball. They did a nice job.”
Hyde forced the Warriors to punt after a 10-play drive to open the game. On the Howling Wolves’ first offensive play, senior running back Ralik Garvins scored on a 98-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.
“It was a hard-fought victory,” Garvins said. “We worked all week. We knew what was coming, the defending state champions. We knew we had to dig down, dig deep.”
Garvins, also a linebacker, especially wanted to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard.
“Going back to sophomore year, they put a beating on us at our home field 34-0,” Garvins said. “I think we definitely wanted to get that one back.”
Junior running back Jhavion Haddock scored on a 75-yard run in the fourth quarter for Hyde. Haddock carried 13 times for 109 yards, while Garvins finished with 126 yards on nine carries.
“Latrell (Alston) was the only guy that had experience on the offensive line,” McCormick said. “They really worked hard to stay together and work together. They’re figuring it out every day.”
Valley graduated almost every skill player from last year, including quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre and running back Justin Cheverier. The Warriors were without the services of quarterback Matt Sapere (leg) and running back Sean Hunt (concussion). Both are expected to be cleared next week.
“If we can get through the first half of the season, then I think by the second half we’re going to be a pretty good football team,” King said.
Hyde 13, Valley Regional 0
(at New Haven)
Valley Regional 0 0 0 0 — 0
Hyde 7 0 0 6 — 13
H—Ralik Garvins 98 run (kick good)
H—Jhavion Haddock 75 run (pass failed)
Team records: Hyde 1-0; Valley Regional 0-1