DEEP RIVER >> The Valley Regional/Old Lyme Warriors played with heavy hearts in its 35-0 win over Gilbert/Northwestern under the lights, Friday night.
This week the Warriors’ offensive coordinator Kevin Woods and his father, assistant coach Steve Woods lost a family member, Kevin’s uncle and Steve’s brother, Tony.
“We dedicated this win to Coach Woods,” said Warriors junior running back, Justin Cheverier. “We aren’t just a team, we’re a family. When he lost someone, we lost someone.”
Coach Kevin Woods was up in Buffalo on Thursday and drove back on Friday just in time for the game, Steve Woods stayed in Buffalo.
“We pride ourselves in being a family,” said Warriors head coach, Tim King. “We’re a pretty close group.”
The Warriors’ players played with their hearts on their sleeves and got going early against the Yellowjackets.
On the first play from scrimmage, Evan Smith took the ball 59-yards for the first touchdown of the game.
The Yellowjackets ran six plays on its first drive and on the sixth play, John Lippincott was intercepted by David Peck who took it 48-yards for the score and just like that, seven plays into the game, the Warriors led 14-0.
“Anytime you’re down 14 off the start, you’re behind the eight ball,” said Gilbert/Northwestern head coach Scott Salius. “It hurts the game plan.”
On the ensuing kickoff, Warriors kicker Jared Roche kicked the ball directly at the front line of the Yellowjackets and it hit a Gilbert/Northwestern player right in the chest and the Warriors jumped on it, taking over.
The Warriors weren’t able to put any points on the board on that drive.
“That helped,” said King. “Surprisingly enough you want to establish nice drives, not scoring on the onside kick (King shook his head), we wanted to get up.”
It didn’t matter though; the Warriors defense stepped up and held the Yellowjackets all game, containing Gilbert/Northwestern’s star running back, Tony Ortiz, to only 34-yards for the entire game. They also held Yellowjackets’ quarterback John Lippincott to 5-17 on passing attempts for only 56-yards and 36-yards on the ground.
“They’re a good team,” said King of the Yellowjackets. “Tony is a good running back and we knew we need to contain him and John Lippincott, holy cow can he throw on the run.”
The Warriors defense was quick to the ball and didn’t let any play develop for the Yellowjackets.
“They were all over the place; they are a phenomenal defensive team,” said Salius. “They were coming up to make plays and when we passed they were able to react.”
Cheverier credited defensive coordinator Paul Ginter for a great game plan.
“Coach Ginter puts together a great plan, he stays up late every night,” said Cheverier. “He puts us in the right spots.”
Leading the way for the Warriors offense was Cheverier who rushed for 177-yards for three touchdowns.
“He was phenomenal, he was elusive, he was a power runner,” said Salius.
With the win the Warriors remain undefeated at 10-0 and will finish the season with the best record in the Pequot conference and if they get a win on Thanksgiving eve against winless Haddam-Killingworth they will lock up the No. 1 seed in Class M.
“We moved up a Class this season and there are a lot of good teams,” said King. “From one through eight we will play a quality opponent and be challenged by whoever we get.”
The Yellowjackets who clinched a Class M playoff berth with New London’s loss to East Lyme on Thursday hopes to see the Warriors again in the playoffs.
“We definitely want to see them again, we didn’t give them what we can,” said Salius.
The Yellowjackets return to action on Thanksgiving Day at home against the winless Mountaineers of Housatonic/Wamago, who will be returning to action after five straight forfeits.
Valley Regional/Old Lyme 35, Gilbert/Northwestern 0
Valley Regional/Old Lyme – 14 7 14 0 – 35
Gilbert/Northwestern – 0 0 0 0 – 0
VR – Evan Smith 59-yard run (Jared Roche kick good)
VR – David Peck 48-yard interception return (Roche kick good)
VR – Justin Cheverier 1-yard run (Roche kick good)
VR – Justin Cheverier 12-yard run (Roche kick good)
VR – Justin Cheverier 11-yard run (Roche kick good)
Passing: VR – Phil Cohen 7-10, 38-yards, one interception; Christopher Jean Pierre 1-1, 11-yards. GN – John Lippincott 5-17, 56-yards, one interception.
Rushing: VR – Justin Cheverier 15 for 177-yards, three touchdowns; Evan Smith 3 for 57-yards, one touchdown; Phil Cohen 6 for 50-yards; Tyler Jaynes 4 for 25-yards; Christopher Jean Pierre 2 for 5-yards; Jean-Luc Poulard 2 for 4-yards. GN: John Lippincott 14 for 36-yards; Tony Ortiz 22 for 34-yards; Matthew Nieves 1 for 3-yards; Seth Dayton 3 for -2-yards.
Receiving: VR – Christopher Jean Pierre 2 catches for 15-yards; William Buscetto 2 catches for 13-yards; David Peck 1 catches for 11-yards; Justin Cheverier 3 catches for 10-yards. GN – Nick Pedrolini three catches for 40-yards; Tony Ortiz 1 catch for 10-yards; Paxton Lewis-Franklin 1 catch for 6-yards.
Records: Valley Regional/Old Lyme 10-0, Gilbert/Northwestern 8-2.