By John Goralski
For seven days, the Knights stewed about the little mistakes that cost them a perfect season. They boiled about the blown coverages. They steamed about the missed opportunities.
In the week of practices since losing to Hall, the Knights grew more and more angry, more and more dissatisfied, and more and more ready to take it out on Conard.
On Saturday, Oct. 26, the opening whistle released the Knights…
“The kids were upset about the loss. Obviously, the coaches were too,” said Blue Knight football coach Mike Drury. “That was the rally cry this week. We wanted to execute, and we didn’t want to let any opportunity slip away. We had a great week of practice, and it showed.”
It took Southington less than two minutes to score on the opening drive, and it took less than a minute to score again. Stephen Barmore connected with Alex Jamele for a 50 yard touchdown strike. Zach Maxwell ran for scores of 26 yards, 32 yards, and 41 yards with Tyler Hyde scoring from 32 yards out in between.
When officials signaled the end of the first 12-minute quarter, the Knights had already scored five times to take a 35-0 lead. Conard was able to manufacture a long scoring drive in the second quarter, but it was bookended by touchwon runs by Barmore and Hyde.
The 56-27 final score might look like Conard posed a threat in the second half, but Southington coaches had already called off the dogs. Of course, Barmore and Jamele connected for a 55-yard pass at that start of the second half before coaches shuffled in the second string.
“We wanted to come out strong offensively and defensively to try to get a good rhythm right away, and we did that,” said Drury. “The other thing we wanted to do is finish, and we did that the way we wanted to do it, too.”
Southington rushed for 171 yards and passed for 200 yards as 10 different players spearheaded the offense.
Maxwell averaged 22 yards per carry for 88 yards and three scores in the first half. Barmore rushed for 43 yards and completed 9 of 12 passes for 187 yards and three scores. Jamele led the receivers with three catches for 108 yards, and Hyde finished with 35 yards on the ground and 32 in the air.
“It wasn’t just the first half or the first quarter. We need to have complete games,” said Drury. “I think we did a good job of moving the football down the field and making big plays.”
On defense, the Knights regained a little of their swager after the loss. Steven Hamel led the assault with 13 tackles, and Matt Maxwell recorded nine. Dan Williams had three sacks. Matt Thomson had two, while Zach Spooner and Zach Maxwell each had a sack and a half.
Zach Bylykbashi and Michael Lange earned interceptions, and Southington finished with 12 defenders collecting at least five tackles in the game. Conard used the screen effectively on their first half scoring drive, but the Knights were able to stop the play that Hall used to defeat them.
“We wanted to make sure that we stop that play because we play a lot of teams like us, spread teams, and the screen’s a big part of the offense,” said Drury. “We spent a lot of time trying to clean that up, and we did it.”
Now, the road trip continues as the Knights (5-1) travel to Newington. The Indians are coming off a 35-16 win over East Hartford and are trying to even their record at 4-4 with their third victory in a row.
“Offensively, they’re a tough team that brings a lot of pressure, and we expect them to be ready to play,” said Drury. “They have a really good junior quarterback, and he’s been throwing the ball really well. We know that they’re going to try to spread us out and throw the ball, and that’s one thing that we’ll have to work on in practice.”
Kick-off is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.