The Blitzing Blue Bandits; Football scores shutout at home opener in Cheshire

Southington fans cheered as they filed out of the Cheshire bleachers. The band sounded off one more anthem as the players lined up to shake hands. On Saturday, Sept. 29, Coach Mike Drury turned to the press with a wide grin.
And why not? With a 35-0 win over Newington, Drury became the first Blue Knight coach to win on Cheshire’s field in five seasons. In Southington’s first home game of the season, the uprooted Knights posted their first shutout.
It was a good sign for Drury since the turf construction has sent his team scrambling for home game sites. The Knights proved that they were up to the challenge.
“We’re here in Cheshire, but this is the kind of year where we have to adapt. This was our home game, and it was a great win,” said Drury. “We have to come with the mindset that this is our home game, and we don’t lose at home. That’s the bottom line…It wasn’t like Fontana Field, but it was a good atmosphere.”
It was almost too easy. After surrendering 14 points in week one, the defense held New Britain to seven in week two. Against Newington, they took it one step further, posting their first shutout since a 3-0 win over New Britain in the second week of last season.
Justin Rose led the charge with 13 tackles. Nick Spits scored 11 tackles, and Zach Jamele added nine. Blue Knight defenders blitzed for seven quarterback sacks as wave after wave of Southington players penetrated Newington’s line.
Southington held Newington’s ground game to just over one yard per carry (37 attempts, 38 yards). With no running game the Indians took to the air, connecting on16 of their 38 pass attempts (42.1 percent) for 200 yards, but
“We know that they’re going to be a team that passes a little bit more and has success with it,” said Drury. “We know when we face teams like that, that we have to get pressure on the quarterback on every play. Never let them feel comfortable.”
The Indian offense was forced to punt five times and turned the ball over on downs three times. Newington only reached Southington’s red zone one time during a second half drive that stalled at the 15-yard line under a swarm of Blue Knight defenders.
“We didn’t want to lose that shutout. We just wanted to come together and stop them,” said defensive lineman Travis Daly. “Today we played with more than just 11 guys. We had a lot of kids go down. We had kids who never even played the O-line step up. We had different positions go down, but we had kids filled in and worked really well.”
The Southington offense continued to get mired in penalties, but they managed to fight through them to score in every quarter. On their second drive of the game, quarterback Stephen Barmore had two first down scrambles called back by penalties before connecting with Jarrid Grimmett for a 62-yard touchdown screen pass.
“We definitely stressed the mistakes a lot in practice this week, especially after New Britain where we had 150-plus yards in penalties,” said Barmore. “We really stressed that this week and how to respond to a situation like that. I thought we responded to that pretty well, obviously.”
Grimmett broke out for two touchdowns in the contest and marshaled the ground attack with 16 carries for 107 yards. Barmore rushed for 80 yards, including a 13 yard touchdown scramble. Barmore completed 8-of-19 passes to six different receivers for 120 yards and two scores. Connor John scored on a 10 yard reception from Barmore, and Zach Jamele punctuated the scoring with a one-yard plunge with 9:11 remaining in the game.
“It’s definitely what we wanted to see,” said Drury. “There’s definitely things to improve upon, but I told the guys let’s come out right away and lets get the pistons firing. Last week, we had to get going in the second half. We got going right away today in all aspects—special teams, offense, and defense.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 3-0. On Saturday, Oct. 10, they’ll try to protect their perfect season as they host Conard in a home game at Falcon Field in Meriden. Conard (1-2) is coming off a 35-6 loss to Glastonbury last week, and Drury said that his team will be ready. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“They are going to have a power offense. They are very well-disciplined, and they’re well-coached,” said Drury. “We have to come out there in Meriden and play our A-game against them. They are always a tough opponent. They play everybody tough. We just have to stay the course.”
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