By John Goralski
East Hartford gained one yard on their first possession and threw away the football three plays into their second. On Friday, Sept. 14, Southington’s offense scrambled to a 37-0 lead at the end of the first half, but it was the Blue Knight defense and special teams that dictated the pace.
“I remember talking to the offensive guys, and we were asking if the defense was going to give us a chance to put a drive together,” Blue Knight quarterback Stephen Barmore said after the 44-14 victory. “The defense gave us exceptional field position, and it was nice to only have to go 20 yards every time we stepped onto the field to get a score.”
The opening kick-off set up the first drive inside the red zone for a 7-0 Southington lead. The defense forced East Hartford to punt from their 11 yard line on their first possession to set up another short Southington score. An interception fed the third touchdown. A safety gave the Knights a 23-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and East Hartford entered halftime without a single first down.
“The defense was swarming to the ball and executed the game plan to perfection,” said Blue Knight coach Mike Drury. “That was exactly the way we wanted it. They put the offense in those positions, and it’s the offense’s job to score.”
Southington’s offense did their job. Barmore completed 10 of his 13 passes for 102 yards with touchdowns passes to Corbin Garry (5 yards) and Connor John (3 yards). Barmore scrambled for a rushing touchdown on a broken pass play, and Jarrid Grimmett rushed for 49 yards with a trio of scores from inside the five yard line.
Southington built a 44-0 lead by the start of the final quarter.
“The linemen were hitting everything,” said Grimmett. “They were making huge, gaping holes for me, and that was making my job easy.”
The Hornets scored a pair of late touchdowns to close the deficit to 30 points, but Southington’s allowed just 45 yards of total offense. Nick Spitz led the assault with eight tackles. Zach Jamele and Tyler Hyde collected five tackles apiece, and Nate Bonenfant returned a first quarter interception to the 28 yard line to set up Southington’s second score of the game.
“The defense came out strong today,” Bonenfant said. “We set a good tone in the first quarter on the first few drives, and that just kept us going the whole time.”
East Hartford’s offense completed just three of 20 passing attempts for 36 yards in the air, and their runners combined for just nine yards rushing on 26 attempts (0.3 yards per carry). Meanwhile, Southington’s balanced attack led to runs of 3.4 yard per carry and an average of 10.2 yards per completion.
“We have to have a great balance with this team. Sometimes, it’s going to be the run. Sometimes, it’s going to be the pass, or whatever it is. For our success over the entire season, that’s the way we have to do it,” said Drury. “We’ll look at the film because the film’s never as good as you think or as bad as you think. I’m sure that there will be plenty of things that we can improve on. Plenty.”
The Knights (1-0) will try to carry their momentum into next week’s conference battle against New Britain (0-1). The Hurricanes are coming off a 31-6 loss to Glastonbury in week one, but will look to turn things around in their home opener.
The game will be held at Veteran’s Stadium in New Britain, and kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be big,” said Drury. “It’s the best grass field in the state. It’s going to be an exciting environment, and it’s going to be a hard-fought game. We’re just looking to start the preparation tomorrow morning.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.