By John Goralski
On Friday, Nov. 8, Zach Maxwell carried the ball four times in the first possession of the second half, and that resulted in a 59-yard scoring drive to give the Blue Knights a 48-point lead over East Hartford. Coach Mike Drury had seen enough.
He pulled his starters, emptied his bench, and Southington still dominated play despite a pair of late scores by the Hornets. In fact, Maxwell was the only starter on the offensive unit to build his statistics after the halftime break.
Southington cruised to a 55-20 victory.
“It’s hard for a defense to stop us when we have so many weapons,” said Blue Knight quarterback Stephen Barmore. The senior co-captain marshaled the attack in the first half with 188 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Barmore led all rushes with six carries for 108 yards despite not having a single carry in the second half.
Six different Knights scored as the Knights rallied to the lopsided victory.
“They’re really clicking. The offensive staff and players are all on the same page right now, and they’re doing a great job out there,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “We have guys that we can spread the ball around to, so we’re not one-dimensional. We aren’t focused on one guy, but we have those dynamic play makers. That helps any offense out.”
Tyler Hyde (6 carries, 71 yards) gave the Knights a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play with a pair of short touchdown runs. Joe Daigle made just one catch in the game, but it was a 66-yard score on the first play of the second quarter after a series of penalties and miscues backed the Knights up to a third-and-32 situation.
Barmore broke open a 65-yard score on the ground. He connected for two touchdowns to Alex Jamele in the final three minutes of the first half to push Jamele’s single-season record for receiving touchdowns 19.
“We were extremely well-rounded,” said Barmore, “and that’s been a big part of this closing part of the season and our offense’s evolution into a well-rounded offense…and a potent one.”
Defensively, the Knights were just as dominant. Zak Jamele led the assault with 10 tackles as the Knights held East Hartford to 55 yards rushing. Steven Hamel had eight tackles. Matt Thomson had seven.
“We want to play the game physically, and that’s the way that the game’s supposed to be played,” said Drury. “Our goal every week is to out-physical the other team. Our guys were popping guys, and that’s what we want to see every week.”
That pressure resulted in turnovers, and the Knights won the turnover battle once again. Zak Jamele, Alex Jamele, and Zack Spooner recovered fumbles, and Chris Kelly scrambled 56 yards after a catch to score his second interception touchdown in as many weeks.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, but I couldn’t have done it if my man Mike Lange wasn’t playing,” said Kelly. “He hit the kid and popped the ball up. I just happened to be standing right in the right place.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 7-1 with two games remaining to move up to fifth place in the Class LL rankings between Glastonbury (8-1) and Hall (7-1). The Knights control their own destiny in the playoff picture, and the Knights will try to carry momentum into this week’s home match-up with South Windsor (0-9).
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.