By BRIAN JENNINGS
It didn’t take long for the Blue Knights (2-0) to make a statement on Friday, Sept. 18.
On the very first play from the line of scrimmage, the Knights’ defense swarmed the winless Hartford Public (0-2) quarterback, Shamar Richards, and stripped him of the ball. Logan LaRosa snatched up the ball and raced 10 yards for the score, en rout to defeating Hartford Public, 48-17.
Just before the end of the first quarter, Jasen Rose hooked up with Austin Morin for a 28-yard touchdown pass to put the Knights up 14-0. Morin wasn’t done, though. In the beginning of the second quarter, he returned to catch an 89-yard strike for his second touchdown of the game.
Around six minutes before halftime, Rose connected with Ryan Montalvo on his first touchdown of the year 41 yards out. The Knights got the ball back a few minutes later and hit a slanting Alessio Diana in the corner of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, as Diana just got both feet in before running out of bounds.
Public’s first points of the game came on a 32-yard field goal as time expired before halftime. Public’s only other scores came on a 25-yard run late in the third quarter and a 15-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth.
Anthony Plantamuro also scored his first touchdown of the season on a 17-yard pass from Rose in the beginning of the third quarter. Morin saw the end zone for a third time, midway through the third quarter on a 20-yard catch, capping off the Knights’ blowout win.
Morin finished the night with 152 yards on four receptions and three touchdowns.
“He just has that different thing that some receivers have,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “He has great hands and awareness around the field. He’s able to really break away from people, and Jay trusts that. He made some great plays and you saw it out there. It was impressive.”
Alessio Diana led the ground attack, rushing for 70 yards on six carries. Vance Upham was also solid with 62 yards on seven carries.
After announcing in the school library the day before that he would attend the University of Connecticut in Storrs next fall, Jasen Rose seemed to welcome the lack of pressure. He said that he is more relaxed now and ready to concentrate on the season at hand.
“It just takes off some of the stressors,” said Drury. “He really wants to focus on this team. It means a lot to him and it means a lot to the players. He’s ready to be dialed in.”
Rose completed nine of 12 passes for 254 yards and six touchdowns. In two games, Rose has completed passes totaling 557 yards, including 12 touchdown throws.
“I think I performed pretty well, but obviously our o-line gave us a lot of time,” said Rose. “You guys saw Austin working. Thanks to him on the outside, he was making some great plays. Alessio made a great catch in the end zone. Everyone just did their job tonight and it all came together.”
LaRosa led the defense with 16 tackles, followed by Matt Cianciolo with 12. Upham and Montalvo finished with 11, while Upham and Pierce Martin both had two sacks. LaRosa and Cianciolo both had a fumble recovery. Matt Gundersen intercepted two passes and Chris Minkiewicz picked off one.
“I think the intensity and effort were there,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “There are just some mistakes that we have to clean up. We talk about these things. We don’t want to accept that and the kids don’t want to accept that either. There are a lot of correctable things. It’s more the mind and the body. The kids know that and we had a nice discussion at halftime. They’re going to correct it and we’re going to get better from it.”
The Knights currently sit in first place of the Division I West and will be welcoming Simsbury (0-2, 0-0 in division) in on Friday, Sept. 25 before they head out on the road for a three-game road stretch.
“Simsbury has a new staff,” said Drury. “I think they’re going to have a little bit of a different type of offense. I know they’re going to be coached up and I know those coaches well. They’re going to be geared up and ready.”
Kick-off is schedule for 7 p.m. at Fontana Field.