Punt, pass, and Smick; Knights win the early battle of field position

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

Kyle Smick’s first punt pinned New Britain behind their 20 yard line for their first possession of the game. His second one spanned more than 47 yards before coming to rest just outside the Hurricane 10-yard line. On Friday, Oct. 11, Kyle Smick was toying with the Hurricane’s special teams players like a bully in the school yard, and it was giving his offense a chance to warm their engines.

“In the beginning of the game, it really seemed like a battle of special teams and field position,” he said with a grin after Southington’s 38-7 conference win. “I just want to go out there and do my best to help the team out and get us the best possible spot on the field. Regardless of how the offense is doing, I do hope to perform well for the team by kicking the ball as far as I can or whatever the situation might be.”

“He’s unbelievable,” said Blue Knight quarterback Stephen Barmore. “He works really hard at practice, and he works really hard in the off-season to make sure that he’s on top of his game. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any other high school kicker that can kick it out of the end zone. That just speaks volumes to his hard work and what he’s accomplished.”

Smick rarely gets a chance to assert himself during games since the Knights usually score in red zone possessions, but fans have started to enjoy the senior’s halftime showcases where he sometimes drills 50-yard field goals while the teams make their final adjustments.

Against New Britain, Smick finally had his chance to affect the game as the Knights used to battle of field position to set the stage for the victory. Each punt seemed to pin New Britain deeper and deeper in their zone. His 33-yard field goal was the only scoring in the opening quarter. By the end of the game, Smick had booted three kick-offs right out of the end zone.

“I don’t know how many touchbacks he had tonight—maybe three or four definitely,” said the Blue Knight coach Mike Drury. “When he’s able to do that against a team like this that has the potential for a big return with their speed, it’s huge. Then, he has the ability to kick field goals when we need it.”

It wasn’t until the first play of the second quarter that Smick’s teammates finally joined in the fun. After three possessions that ended in a punt or a field goal, Barmore connected with Alex Jamele for a 32 yard score. The tandem connected for touchdowns from 32 yards, 4 yards, 54 yards, and 2 yards as Southington opened a 38-0 lead with 8:09 remaining.

“They definitely had some skilled corners, and they were very fast, but the linemen gave Stephen great time. Stephen threw up a great ball, and that gave me time to do…you know,” Jamele said. “When I see him in trouble, I do the best I can to give him a target. I don’t want to see him go down, so I’ve got to do something to make sure my quarterback is all right.”

Barmore completed 15 of 28 passes for 225 yards but struggled at times to find a second receiver. More than half of his passes (8) were to Jamele. Four of his five touchdown throws were to his main receiver. Barmore completed one touchdown throw to Jasen Rose. Tyler Hyde rushed for 84 of Southington’s 111 yards on the ground. The rest was up to Jamele and Smick.

“We knew that they could fly around and had tremendous speed to the football. They have athletes, and they are a very solid team,” said Drury. “Defensively, we did a great job, and field position really helped us early on.”

For the third week in a row, Southington starters left the field with a varsity shutout, but New Britain managed to turn a late interception into a 44 yard score. Southington’s junior varsity held on for the win, and the Knights improved to 4-0.

Now, Southington will take to the road to face Hall. The Warriors (3-1) have rallied for three straight wins after losing to Glastonbury in their opener. Last week, Hall beat East Hartford, 40-19. The game is schedule for Saturday, Oct. 19, and Drury said that his Knights will need to play a good game to get the win.

“We can’t make mistakes. We have to stop the penalties and things like that,” he said. “We’ve really been shooting ourselves in the foot in certain circumstances, and we know that. We can’t afford to have those sorts of things in big games, but we’re going to be focused. We’ll be ready to go, and we’re excited for next Saturday.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@southingtonobserver.com.

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