By John Goralski
Before the Knights even took the field against South Windsor, Glastonbury was already resting after securing their fifth win. Football fans throughout the state had already circled the Week Six match-up between the Knights and the Tomahawks, and it was already being touted as a midseason battle between undefeated programs.
But first, the Knights had to finish some business. On Saturday, Oct. 13, South-ington dispatched the Bobcats in another lopsided victory. Bench players counted turnovers to their teammates on the field. The offense quietly rallied for 48 points. For the third straight week Southington’s defense hasn’t let up a point. For the second time this season, the Knights rallied for a shutout.
Now, Coach Mike Drury is ready to look ahead. At the mid-point of the season, his Knights are one of seven undefeated teams in Class LL…Bring on the Tomahawks.
“We had to make sure that we focused on this one,” Drury said after a 48-0 win in South Windsor. “We had to get this one done before we look at anything else. It always has to be game by game and practice by practice. This game was our focus.”
South Windsor didn’t pose much of a challenge as the Knights improved to 5-0. Bobcat runners were beaten back for negative yardage. South Windsor receivers caught just six passes for 80 yards, and that was skewed by one 36-yard play when the outcome was already decided. The defense clamored for six turnovers. The offense responded with a balanced attack, and Southington’s bench players scored against South Windsor’s starting defense. Now comes the hard part.
“We’ve got to keep it rolling,” said Blue Knight quarterback Stephen Barm-ore. “We’ve done a great job preparing up to this point, but in the second half of the season we have a lot of teams that are playoff contenders and a lot of teams that are going to want to knock us off.”
The first one is Glastonbury. The Tomahawks won’t be scared by the Blue Knight resume. They’ve been dispatching opponents with just as much ease. Glastonbury (5-0) is coming off a 48-7 win over Maloney. Southington’s defense can brag about holding the Bobcats to 74 yards of offense, but Glastonbury held the Spartans to 11 yards in their win.
“They’re a solid all-around team—special teams, defense, and offense,” said Drury. “They’ve got a very good ground game. They’re able to throw the ball and be efficient with it. They’ve got a very good kicking game. It’s going to be a great game. We’ll have a big prep week to get ready for them.”
Against South Windsor, Southington led with its defense. Through five games, the Knights have allowed just 28 points (5.6 points per game). Against the Bobcats, the Knights turned up the heat. Zach Maxwell collected eight tackles. Justin Rose had seven, and Nick Spitz had six. But it was the turnovers that told the story.
Anthony Oliva finished with two fumble recoveries and a late interception. Nate Bonenfant and Rose each recovered fumbles. Ryan Daigle had an interception. The Knights blitzed for six quarterback sacks and had four more tackles for negative yardage.
That’s going to be a key for the Knights as they try to match-up with Glastonbury’s size and speed.
“It’s hard to hold onto the ball when you’ve got 10 people tackling you at the same time,” said Spitz. “We hit hard. We swarm to the ball, and we play our responsibilities. Nobody tries to make a big play themselves. The defense just makes the big plays as a whole.”
Offensively, the Knights have quietly gone about business. Barmore completed 11-of-14 passes (78.6 percent) for 140 yards and one touchdown. Jarrid Grimmett paced the rushing game with 21 carries for 132 yards and two scores. The Knights amassed 189 yards running and 184 yards in the air.
Barmore, Alex Jamele, and Zach Jamele scored touchdowns on the ground. Anthony Bonenfant caught another. Jasen Rose connected on three of his four passes as Southington’s back-up quarterback, including a 16-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Borawski that capped the Knights’ scoring.
“They’re looking good,” Drury said about his offense. “We have the ability to make big plays. We’re going to tighten some stuff up and get even that much better. We know that we have more in the tank.”
Barmore said that they still have something to prove as they enter the second half of the season.
“In the first half of the season the teams that we’ve played have not been to the caliber of the teams that we’re going to play in the second half of the season,” he said. “I think that the whole team has something to prove that we’re here to play and we’re here to contend for a state championship.”
Glastonbury will be the first test. The Tomahawks have size and speed. Sure, the Knights have outscored opponents, 201-28, but Glastonbury has done just as well. The Tomahawks have rallied for 197 points and have surrendered only 55.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Fans will find out on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Falcon Field in Meriden.
“We’re going to take a hard look at everything that they do and try to simplify it the best we can for the guys so that they can still continue to play fast without over-thinking it,” said Drury. “We’d like to be able to do the stuff that we like to do.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at email@example.com.