Cox Does it All for Valley-Old Lyme on the Football Field
Nick Cox is an offensive play caller’s dream. The senior does it all for the Valley Regional-Old Lyme (VR-OL) football team. This season, Nick has played snaps all over the field by lining up at wide receiver, in the backfield, and as a part of the defensive secondary for the Warriors.
Head Coach Hill Gbunblee likes to think of Nick as a secret weapon for VR-OL and has been impressed by his growth as a player.
“Nick is an ultimate competitor. He’s supremely gifted. He’s kind of like our secret weapon,” says Gbunblee. “He’s a top athlete in the state when it comes to football and lacrosse. His speed, his change of direction, his awareness, his aggressiveness, his willingness to put his body on the line and the amount of hard work he puts in the offseason really is paying off.”
Nick has impressed the coaching staff with his versatility by handling everything that is asked of him with enthusiasm and spirit. He brings a joy to the gridiron.
“He’s a receiver, running back, hybrid linebacker, defensive back for us. He can return kicks. You name it, he can do it basically,” Coach Gbunblee says. “We are really lucky to have a player of his caliber on our team.”
When smaller schools lack in size, they need to make up for it with speed and offensive creativity. A player like Nick is exactly the weapon Coach Gbunblee is looking for to attack a defense from all angles.
Nick is a key part of the Warriors’ dynamic offense that includes senior DiAngelo Jean-Pierre—another talented wide receiver consistently drawing additional attention from opposing defenses. Coach Gbunblee welcomes these challenges and sees them as a chance for Nick to create mismatches.
“I hope you put more attention on [Jean-Pierre], because you aren’t going to be able to guard Nick one-on-one. I haven’t seen one team in the league that can do that yet,” says Gbunblee. “It’s really nice to have that flexibility, where I can line him up at running back, I can line him up at slot receiver, I can line him up at flanker, I can line him up at wildcat quarterback. I can put him anywhere, and he’s just going to absolutely dominate and show you why he’s a mismatch for a lot of people.”
Early this season, in game versus Morgan, Nick exploited those mismatches on his way to a jaw-dropping performance. Impacting all facets of the game, Nick tallied four total touchdowns. Two came via interceptions returned for touchdowns to go with two offensive TDs. VR-OL won the game 48-0. Nick was happy to put on a show in a rivalry game.
“It was definitely my most fun game. The pick-6’s were awesome, and it was nice because Morgan’s a rival, so it was nice to play that well that game,” Nick says. “I felt really good before that game, so I knew it was going to be a good one.”
Nick enjoys playing in an offense that allows him to move around the field and line up at different positions while viewing the game from unique angles.
“You’re not stuck in one position,” Nick says. “You can be playing running back, wide receiver, some kids play QB. There is constantly moving parts to all of it, so it never gets boring or repetitive, and it’s just every week doing something different. It’s a fun offense to be a part of.”
Coach Gbunblee refers to Nick as a leader who shows more than he tells by leading through action on and off the field. Nick feels that stepping into a leadership role as a senior has been easier as the team is putting wins on the scoreboard.
“It’s felt good, because our team is good. I think the underclassmen respect leaders a little more when the team is good,” says Nick. “It’s been fun to lead the team every week. It’s fun to lead a team out on the field when we know were going to win and know were going to beat up on the other team.”
“The senior class, my class, is a really great one,” Nick continues. “Everyone’s very invested into the team and puts in a lot of time to it, so it feels like everyone has each other’s back, which is a good thing.”
VR-OL is currently 8-1 on the year and on the verge of a playoff berth. Nick sets high goals for the team and recognizes they have work ahead of them. It begins with the Turkey Bowl versus rival Haddam-Killingworth during Thanksgiving week.
“Obviously, the big goal is to win the Turkey Bowl against H-K and then make a playoff run and make the state championship,” says Nick. “That’s really everybody’s goal, because we think we can do it this year. Individually, just keep doing what I’ve been doing, but we want to keep winning and having fun and play in December.”