Back to the Future; Football has sights set on the postseason

As a junior, Maxwell was third in tackles (82). Jamele (76) and Hyde (38) scored in the top 10. The Knights return just two lineman and one starting linebacker with an almost entirely different look in the secondary, but  Drury said that they’re up to the challenge.

“They’re coming together, but we have some big shoes to fill,” said the coach, “but these guys have been really committed in the off-season. They’ve put the time in to get their minds and bodies prepared to go out there and take over the reigns of a very successful defense. They’re excited. They play with passion. They play physical. They fly around to the football, and that’s the stuff we preach.”

Maxwell, Nardi, and Gill will anchor the line, along with D’Agostino and a host of juniors. Jamele returns as the middle linebacker, and he’ll be flanked by juniors Matt Thomson and Steven Hamel. Maxwell could shift back and forth between the first and second lines of defense as Southington tries a few different looks to keep offenses off-balanced.

Cornerback Mike Lange will anchor the secondary with Hyde and Barmore splitting time at safety. Junior cornerbacks Peter Majchrzak and Zac Bylykbashi will join Lange at cornerback. Matt Maxwell, Chris Kelly, and Jamele will fill the role of ‘bandits,’ a sort of hybrid between cornerback and safety as the Knights blitz, swarm, and defend as a tight unit.

“That’s our philosophy as a defense. We want to pressure. We want to play attack football,” said Drury. “They understand that, and they’re ready to go.”

In tight games, Southington may have the edge with kicker Kyle Smick returning for his senior season. Last year, Smick kicked 48 extra point conversions and a field goal. He’ll be joined on special teams by seniors Jason LeBlanc and Matthew Pellet. In the battle for early field position, Smick might tip the scales in Southington’s direction.

“He’s a tremendous kicker, and he’ll be punting for us, too,” said Drury. “He’s got a great leg, and he’s been in a bunch of kicking camps during the off-season. He’s really a converted soccer player. Last year was his first year as a kicker, and he really did well. He’s got the leg to kick it from all over the field, and he’s really going to be a big weapon for us.”

So buckle in and get ready for some action this fall as Southington tries to return to postseason glory. Drury has laid down the gauntlet for this year’s seniors. It’s their team now, and Southington’s in good hands.

“I think this is a good group of kids,” said the coach. “They aren’t just good players, and I really take pride in that. We have kids that really have their heads on straight. I think they’re going to be a fun team to follow. It’s going to be exciting, and we’re really looking to go out there and battle each and every week. They’re respectful, young men, and they’re also good football players.”

Bring on the band. The Blue Knights are ready to play.

Follow the Blue Knights in the pages of the Southington Observer or read about it on-line at www.SouthingtonObserver.com.

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