By Jon Goralski
On the second play from scrimmage, Jasen Rose connected with Alex Jamele for a 64-yard touchdown pass. On the next play from scrimmage, Zack Spooner pounced on a loose ball deep in Hall’s zone to set up a second Southington score just two plays later.
Last season, Hall spoiled Southington’s bid for a perfect season on their way to a Class LL championship title. On Friday, Oct. 17, the Knights wasted no time in erasing Hall’s hopes for a repeat. After five plays from scrimmage, Southing-ton led, 13-0.
“Obviously, there was some extra motivation this week. This was our big loss last year. We didn’t win the conference, and that’s one thing that we definitely want to do this year,” said Blue Knight coach Mike Drury. “Our kids were really dialed in. Our practice week was great. The kids are really working hard, and they were excited to be here at home against Hall. We put forth a true team effort, and that’s what I’m most proud about.”
Southington fired on all cylinders. Jamele (7 catches, 132 yards) scored twice in the opening quarter. Alessio Diana (11 carries, 149 yards) rushed for two scores before in the second quarter. Vance Upham ran for a 15 yard score in the first quarter. Austin Morin caught a 41 yard strike in the second, and Southington raced into the half with a 41-0 lead.
The game was touted as a coin flip between two undefeated teams, but Hall never had a chance. Rose completed 13-of-19 passes (.684) for 260 yards and four touchdowns. Matt Maxwell capped the scoring with a 37 yard touchdown reception in the third quarter to give the Knights a 48-0 lead, and Southington emptied its bench.
“Everyone was fired up after our loss last year, so we came out with a lot of intensity,” said Rose. “That definitely showed on the scoreboard.”
The biggest difference was the defense. Last season, the Knights squandered two big leads as Hall rallied from deficits in the second and fourth quarters. This year, the Southington defense never gave them a chance.
Mark Koczera and Spooner led the assault with eight tackles apiece. Logan LaRosa and Matt Thompson scrambled for seven tackles apiece, while Zach Blanchette, Anthony Plantamuro, and Maxwell rallied for six tackles apiece. Drew Barmore recovered a fumble. Matt Cianciolo caught an interception, and Southington defenders held the Warriors under 200 yards of total offense.
Hall runners managed 162 yards on the ground, but the passing attack was held to just 37 yards.
“After every score, we just wanted to get more and more and more. That’s why the defense came out firing. We just kept hitting them every play. We got turnovers, and didn’t let them keep the ball,” said Steve Hamel (5 tackles, forced fumble). “Offense did their job last year. It’s just that we didn’t. That’s why it was so important for us to come out and just keep hitting them harder and harder.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 5-0 and moved into first place in the CIAC points standings based on strength of schedule ahead of four 6-0 teams.
“It was a really great win, but it was a culmination of everyone doing his job,” said Drury. “The offensive line did their job. Jay ran the offense efficiently. The running backs were running hard, and the receivers were catching the ball and making plays. The defense got off the field on third down and fourth down opportunities to give our offense more opportunities to have success.”
Now, the Knights will look to continue their momentum against Conard this Friday. The game is the second in a three-game home streak, and kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Fontana Field. Conard (2-3) is coming off a 31-20 loss to Manchester.
“They have a tough offense. They spread it around on you, and they’re a very well-coached team,” said Drury. “We just have to bring our brand of football and do our thing.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.
By Jon Goralski