By BRIAN JENNINGS
Southington entered Thanksgiving in eighth spot in the Class LL rankings, and all but one scenario had the Knights qualifying for the state tournament—if No. 9 Fairfield Prep upset No. 2 West Haven.
West Haven didn’t trail until late in the game, taking leads of 7-0 and 14-7, but Fairfield Prep answered each score. With five minutes remaining in the game, Fairfield Prep took their first lead and held on for a 21-14 victory.
Just like that, Southington was eliminated from the final playoff berth.
Ex-Blue Knight Vance Upham held Ryan Montalvo’s head in his arms. From one running back to another, Upham consoled the grieving of his former teammate.
Montalvo was the Southington and Cheshire Chamber of Commerce Apple Valley Classic outstanding player of the game in Southington’s 30-22 win at Cheshire on Thanksgiving, but that didn’t heal the pain of missing out on the postseason. He was a senior, and after Fairfield Prep beat out Southington for the eighth and final spot of the Class LL tournament, Thursday was his final game as a Knight.
“It doesn’t take anything away from us,” said Montalvo. “We did all we could do. I couldn’t be any prouder of my team. They performed to the best of their ability. I love these guys more than anything, and would do anything for them. If Fairfield Prep won, then they won. That’s it.”
The Knights concluded their season at Cheshire and missed the state tournament for the first time since 2011, finishing the season at 8-2 (4-1 home, 4-1 away). Southington fended off Simsbury (7-3, 3-1) to win the CCC Division I West Record with a 4-0 record.
“It was a really great, fun group of kids to coach,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “These kids put it all out there every day and did the right things…things we talk about all the time. A couple things didn’t bounce our way, but I’m proud of the way they handled themselves throughout the whole year.”
The Knights concluded their season at Cheshire on Thanksgiving and missed the state tournament for the first time since 2011 after Fairfield Prep defeated West Haven, 21-14, at home on the same day, beating West Haven for the first time since 2013 in the schools’ Thanksgiving series. With the win, Fairfield Prep leapfrogged Southington into the eighth and final spot of the state tournament, as the Jesuits knocked out the Knights by opponents wins and ties points, 350/0-320/0.
The Knights are losing the following 23 players to graduation after this season: Will Barmore (QB), Cole Brock (DL), JJ Clark (OL), Drew Downey (WR), Mario Ferreri (DB), Ian Hall (LB), Jack Herms (WR), Keegan Jarvis (OL), Joe Koczera (LB), Brandon Kohl (RB-DB), Joe Lee (WR), Jake Monson (OL), Ryan Montalvo (RB-LB), Tim O’Shea (WR), Quindran Quintin-Cole (DB), Jimmy Ringrose (WR), Sean Scanlon (DL), Jimmy Starr (OL), Spencer Sterling (OL), Jack Terray (DB), Sammy Thomson (DB), Anthony Vecchio (DB), and Shaun Wagner (DB).
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/11/28/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-dec-1-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.