By John Goralski
A fumble on the first play from scrimmage allowed Glastonbury to take the early lead. Soft coverage after a successful goal line stance set up a Tomahawk field goal at the end of the first half, and defensive breakdown enabled an 85-yard scored in the second half that pushed the game out of reach.
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, those three small lapses by the Knights led to 17 Glastonbury points, and that was the difference in the opening round of the Class LL tournament. Glastonbury rebounded from a four point lead at the break to hand Southington their first loss of the season, 23-14.
“We said that this game was going to be decided by field position and turnovers,” said Blue Knight quarterback Stephen Barmore. “They won both of those battles tonight. As I said before, they are a good team and we are a good team. It came down to those two things, and that’s where they beat us.”
The game was a rematch of a mid-season contest won by the Knights in a second half comeback. This time, Glastonbury returned the favor.
Josh Hill led the charge. In the first meeting, Hill was held to just one completed pass and 31 yards on three catches. In the quarterfinals, he ran for 51 yards, passed for 142 yards, and caught one pass for 11 yards. Hill opened the scoring with a 22-yard run on Glastonbury’s first possession, and he threw the 85-yard score to Grant Lewis at the start of the second half that gave the Tomahawks the lead for good.
“Every time we got something going, things just weren’t bouncing our way,” said Blue Knight coach Mike Drury. “We were just a couple of plays short of where we needed to be.”
Southington had their share of moments. With four minutes left in the opening quarter, Corbin Garry picked up a punt off the bounce and returned it to Glastonbury’s 20-yard line. Four plays later, Barmore rolled out to the left and tied the score with a two-yard touchdown run. Jarrid Grimmett (8 carries, 85 yards) gave the Knights a short lead with a 40-yard run midway through the second quarter.
Justin Rose led the defense with 12 tackles. Garry and Travis Daly collected eight tackles apiece. Southington’s defense held Glastonbury out of the end zone on four consecutive plays inside the five yard line, but Kyle Wucherpfenning converted a 28 yard field goal on the last play of the half to cut Southington’s lead to 14-10.
In the second half, it was all Glastonbury. Southington’s offense managed just two first downs in the second half and turned the ball over twice. Glastonbury scored twice to get the victory.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice,” said Drury. “They executed some things well on us. We knew where they were going. They knew where we were going. We just came up a couple of plays short.”
With the loss, Southington’s fall campaign came to an end. The No. 2 Knights finished with a 10-1 record. Glastonbury (10-1) lost to No. 3 Xavier in the semifinals, 30-13.
“I told them to hold their heads high because they carried on that Southington tradition,” said Drury. “They should be proud of what they accomplished. They worked very hard for it. It’s not something that was given to them by talent. They definitely worked for the season we had. We just came up short here, but the kids had a great year.”
For the seniors it marked the end of their high school careers, but Southington will return a strong core of players next season including Barmore, Grimmett, Tyler Hyde, and junior kicker Kyle Smick.
“We have to work as hard if not harder than we did in the off-season this year,” said Barmore. “We do have a lot of starters and key players coming back, but God am I going to miss this senior class.”
“People kept telling us that we were too small, not fast enough, or we don’t have what it takes,” said senior co-captain Nick Spitz. “We didn’t care. We worked countless hours in the off-season, and we did big things. We had a 10-0 regular season. We beat Cheshire for the first time in six years. We made playoffs for the first time in five years. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Drury laid down the gauntlet for next year’s returning players.
“It’s going to depend on the work we put in,” he said. “These guys know that nothing comes to you. Nothing comes easy. Every game’s a battle to get to where we want to get to. They’ve got to work, work, work for it.”
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