By BRIAN JENNINGS
Vance Upham received the handoff as the offensive line collapsed quickly around him. A tackler tried to wrap him up in the backfield, but Upham bounced off him like a super ball. The Blue Knight running back hit the open gap and charged down the sidelines for a 75-yard score, leaving the secondary in his dust.
“Vance is a threat and a weapon,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “I think we blocked it up great for him, but once you give him that crease, he can take it to the next level. He’s such a physical runner. He doesn’t just do that stuff on Friday nights. He’s running just like that in practice during the week.”
The Blue Knight football team reached 50 points for the second-straight week—almost reaching the milestone by the end of the first half.
On Friday, Sept. 16, Southington pounded past Simsbury, collecting 310 rushing yards with four different players combining for seven touchdowns. The Knights headed into halftime with a 49-7 advantage and cruised to a 56-7 win.
Upham paced the Southington backfield with 196 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Ryan Montalvo added a pair of rushing scores. Brandon Kohl scored the Knight’s lone touchdown of the second half on a goal-line carry, finishing with 70 yards on 11 carries.
“The backfield is physical and has speed,” said Drury. “They’re tough and don’t put the ball on the ground. Those are all the things you want from running backs.”
Quarterback Will Barmore completed seven of 12 passes in his second varsity start, throwing for 77 yards and a touchdown to Anthony Plantamuro. Barmore also ran in to score from three yards out. Richard Rivera led all receivers with 41 yards on three receptions.
Scoring over 100 points after just the first two games says a lot about the offense, but Drury said that he really loves the way the offensive line has been coming together, in particular.
“They’re a unit, and we have proven leaders in the group,” said Drury. “The guys are communicating well and doing all the extra things. They have to work harder than anyone.”
For the second-straight week, the Southington defense held their opponent to negative-22 yards rushing, holding Simsbury to just 34 yards of total offense. The Trojans scored their only touchdown of the game on a kickoff return.
Upham (3 assists), Montalvo (4 assists), Joe Koczera (2 assists, 1 sack), and Ian Hall (4 assists) anchored the defense, each with five total tackles. Hall also recovered a fumble and interception. Plantamuro picked off a pass and Sean Scanlon recovered a fumble as well. Hall and Sammy Thomson forced fumbles.
One of the major changes from last year’s team has been the amount of penalties the Knights have been charge with. Penalties haunted Southington all throughout 2015, but this season they haven’t been a major issue thus far.
“The last couple of years, we had way too many penalties,” the coach said. “We wanted to make sure that we brought those down. We’ve been coaching that up big time, really focusing on the disciplinary aspect of the game throughout the entire offseason. It’s paying dividends now, and we just have to continue doing that. Those are things that you let go during the season, and it could come back to bight you in the end.”
Southington is currently 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the CCC Division I West, 10th out of 35 teams in Class LL and first out of five teams in the CCC Division I West. The Knights will return home on Friday, Sept. 23 to host Glastonbury (1-1) in their first home game of the season.
“They always reload every year,” said Drury. “They have some really tough guys up front and play tough defense. They have a new quarterback and a really good running back that has great speed and agility. We know what to expect.”