A motivated VR-OL football team fueled by a 7-1 start thanks to talent and tenacity on Gridiron

A motivated VR-OL football team fueled by a 7-1 start thanks to talent and tenacity on Gridiron

Grady Lacourcière and Jacob Rand help fuel the Warriors’ 7-1 start to the season. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/Valley Courier

Nicholas Cox and DiAngelo Jean-Pierre work together to lead the Warriors to victory. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/Valley Courier

The Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team had a disappointing 2021 season record of 4-6 to show heart and restlessness which was well above the board for a team with that triumph tally. As disappointing as the result was at the time, it turned out to be a blessing as he forged fire at the Warriors this fall which propelled them to a dominating start to the 2022 campaign.

Head Coach Hill Gbunblee and VR-OL, backed by a team loaded with seniors who helped set an exemplary example, took the bitter taste of that six-game losing streak a year ago and whet their winning appetite to the tune of a 7-1 point across eight contests this year.

Before looking at the patterns or Xs and Os, Gbunblee said the Warriors are not only fueled by last year, but also by the drive and desire to build a team that local schools and towns across the program can be very proud of while heading to the playoffs.

“Our record was the culmination of our hard work not only last year but also during the offseason,” Gbunblee said. “Last year we weren’t getting results that matched our efforts, which was frustrating. The kids bought here and we had great leadership from the senior class. Thanks to COVID, teams lost senior leaders and couldn’t pass the baton to the next class, but we got it back this year. We just want to put a product in the field that the community can be proud of.

Most recently, the Warriors hosted the Academy of Computer Science and Engineering Co-Op (CREC Co-Op) on Nov. 10 and posted a decisive 42-6 decision, dropping the visitors’ overall record to 3-6. It was quite a revealing night for the Warriors’ past performances, with VR-OL having now beaten their opponents 305-73 in eight encounters. Sophomore Max Novak gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead after the first quarter with a 32-yard run before CREC cut their deficit to one at 7-6 after a short 2-yard run in second.

From there, VR-OL took over the score the rest of the evening with 35 unanswered points. Junior Grady Lacourcière had 6 and 12 yard touchdown throws in the same frame against senior Andrew Yermenson (who also had an interception and fumble recovery on defense) and fellow senior DiAngelo Jean-Pierre (6 tackles and a forced fumble defensively), respectively, leading 21-6 at halftime.

In the third, senior Nick Cox (also catching a 53-yard catch in the win) opened up for a 27-yard run home. Finally in the fourth, Lacourcière threw the ball from

2 yards into the end zone for senior Michael Galberth, then senior Jake Rand sprinted 69 yards to score.

“Basically, we did a good job of being able to study the film on our opponents and enjoy the matchups,” Gbunblee said. “The CREC are an athletic team, but we were able to take advantage of their defensive scheme and were able to line up well.”

Behind center, Lacourcière had 13-for-18 passes for 128 yards and three points through the air. Rand finished the night with 13 carries for 208 yards, complete with a catch for 26 yards and a touchdown. He was also 6 for 6 on point attempts after.

Gbunblee then explained the seeds of success that were planted in spring and summer. Whether it was the extra workouts and reps indoors or outdoors, the pain was worth it for the gains.

“The kids are proud this year and refuse to quit,” Gbunblee noted. “Last year we didn’t get the results we wanted. Our seniors took it personally; they did workouts on the beach at Hammonasset Park, ran on the hills and did two days in the weight room. They all wanted to own a season that we could all be proud of.

The Warriors have been defensive mainstays with a stingy team that allowed just 9.1 points per game while recording two shutouts and allowing no more than 14 goals in one of their seven wins.

VR-OL, also now second overall in the Sassacus Division of the Pequot Conference with a 4-1 mark, presented a brick wall to their league opponents by simply having a game plan that accentuates the best attributes. of each one.

“The biggest thing on defense has been making sure the patterns we have match the strengths of our players. Our assistant coaches have done a tremendous job of that,” Gbunblee said. “When you have the body up front to put the pressure on is a huge luxury at any level of football. With the way we hide covers the way we do, we’re able to take advantage of a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Conversely, on the other side of the coin, the offense was just as competent – ​​averaging 38.1 points per game. While once again thanking his coaching staff, Gbunblee added that the Warriors were helped in their offense by a smashing style of play as the mercury began to drop.

“We always felt we were talented offensively and an explosive team,” Gbunblee explained. “Our coaches know the guys and what they can do, and they’ve done a great job coaching. We have a phenomenal racing game. We still want to establish the running game, because that’s what we rely on in cold weather.

The Warriors currently sit in 7th place in the SS State class playoff standings with an average of 128.75 points, where the top seven teams are doing the playoff dance. VR-OL are delighted with what they have collectively achieved so far, although the young men and coaches are aware they cannot look too far ahead.

“This team has worked so hard, and it’s been exhilarating to see the success this year,” Gbunblee said. “I hate to use the cliche, but we have to take it one game at a time. The kids said we were on a revenge tour this season. They are so proud of their community and their school. We are confident in what is happening here. No matter the challenge, it all depends on what we have here.

The Warriors wrap up the regular season by hosting 0-8 Old Saybrook-Westbrook on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. before wrapping up with their annual Thanksgiving Week Principal’s Cup clash at Haddam-Killingworth (5-3 on aggregate) on Tuesday. Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

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