By John Goralski
Southington was forced to punt on their first drive. The Knights’ second possession ended with a fumble. Moments after recovering an interception late in the second quarter, the Blue Knights coughed it back up. Quarterback Stephen Barmore left the game for one play with a sore knee, and penalties backed up the Knights on their first trip into the red zone.
On Friday, Sept. 27, Southington’s offense committed just about every mistake in the book during the opening half, but the Blue Knight football team still entered the break with a 14-0 lead. Why? Because offense is fun to watch, but defense wins games.
Simsbury scrambled for 30 yards of offense on their opening drive, but managed just 22 yards the rest of the game. Southington’s defense was just too good. Simsbury’s triple-option offense can leave most teams scratching their heads. The Knights were ready.
“We had to really pay attention to details. We had to be very disciplined with what we do. It’s a little bit different than the style that we do. We like to be more of an attacking style of defense by bringing pressure, but you really can’t do that as much with a team like this,” said Blue Knight coach Mike Drury. “We had to change our defense up for this week, and our kids responded. They were extremely disciplined with their reads. They tackled great, and it was a tremendous effort out there.”
Simsbury converted just three passes in the game, but finished with no yardage when Knight defenders swarmed two of the three receivers behind the line of scrimmage. Six Simsbury runners combined for just 52 yards on the ground as Southington’s defense held them to less than one yard per carry (0.67).
Zak Jamele (9 tackles) and Zach Maxwell (8 tackles) led the blitz at the line of scrimmage. Steven Hamel finished with five tackles, while Matt Maxwell and Michael Lange scrambled for four tackles apiece. Matt Thomson recovered a fumble. Mike Lange and Peter Majchrzak intercepted passes. When the dust settled, 18 defenders combined for 58 tackles, and Simsbury never knew what hit them.
“We knew that they were running the triple option. It’s a tricky offense to stop, but it’s all about assignment defense,” said senior co-captain Zach Maxwell. “All week we focused on who would have which assignment, and everybody was really good at keeping their assignment.”
Offensively, the Knights finally settled into gear. Alex Jamele led the receivers with 10 passes for 114 yards and opened up the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Jasen Rose caught an 11 yard pass to give the Knights their halftime lead. Then, came the assault.
Barmore completed 25 passes to four different receivers in the game as Southington receivers scrambled for 329 yards. Rose finished with seven catches for 87 yards. Kyle Borawski had six catches for 79 yards, and Joe Daigle averaged caught a pair of passes for 49 yards.
Jamele scored twice. Boroawski scored once, and Tyler Hyde (13 carries, 54 yards) scrambled for a one yard score to open the second half.
“There are definitely still some things that we need to tighten up on,” said Barmore. “If we want to continue winning, we can’t have as many penalties as we had tonight. We had a lot of minor setbacks that set us back in the first half, hence only scoring 14 points, but I think once we minimized mistakes in the second half we showed that our offense s potent when it’s mistake-free.”
Kyle Smick closed out the scoring with a 19 yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but the damage was already done. For the second week in a row, Southington’s varsity players left the field with a shutout, and the Knights held on for a 38-0 win.
Once again, the battle was won in the trenches. Southington’s offensive line beat off Simsbury’s attack. The Trojans managed to recover a fumble down field and intercepted an errant pass in the first quarter, but Southington’s linemen dominated where it counted.
“It all starts at the line of scrimmage. It all starts in the trenches, and we want to come out and just dominate the defensive line,” said senior lineman Jim Nardi. “We have four seniors on the offensive line right now. That’s obviously a big help, but it helps to have a quarterback that can scramble the way that Stephen does and a running back that can hit the hole like Hyde does.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 3-0 and enters their bye week as one of six undefeated teams in the Class LL rankings. The Knights will return to action on Friday, Oct. 11 with a home contest against New Britain. The Hurricaines (1-1) are coming off of a 36-6 loss to Manchester, but will try to regroup against Conard this Friday.
“It’s always a huge rivalry every year. They’re coming here, and they’re going to be fired up, coached up, and ready to go,” said Drury. “We’ve just got to do our thing and prepare the way we do to come out here and put a great effort onto the field.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 11.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.