By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington football took care of business in convincing fashion, During its season opener on Sept. 13 against Conard, the Blue Knights came away with a 54-21 win on the turf of Bob McKee Stadium in West Hartford.
The Knights will face a much bigger challenge—and an old nemesis—in Week 2. Southington travels to Darien tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Blue Wave on the turf at Darien High School. Darien made easy work of Fairfield Ludlowe, 42-0, in their home opener, yielding just 79 total yards of offense. The Blue Wave threw for 204 yards and ran for 62 in the victory.
“They’re going to have athletes,” said Southington coach Mike Drury. “They’re going to play tough defense, they’re going to do what they do and be sound, so we’ve just got to do the same.”
The Blue Wave are sure to be motivated by their Class LL state quarterfinal exit against Newtown last season. It was the first time in four seasons that Darien didn’t hoist a state championship plaque and the first time since 2012 that Darien didn’t reach the state championship game.
On the other side, Southington wants to get past the Class LL state quarterfinals as well after a tough, 28-21, loss to Fairfield Prep in that round last season. There’s also the matter of getting past a Blue Wave program that has handled the Blue Knights in each of the last two meetings, both Class LL state semifinal contests, in 2015 and 2016.
“It’s just about staying with the process,” Drury said. “We’re going to evaluate this film, and move forward tonight on them. We’ll be getting to work immediately. Then, it’s just developing a game plan, executing, focusing on technique. You play great teams, you’ve got to play with great technique and do the little things well.”
Easy win over Conard
The Knights stormed to a 40-7 halftime lead in an opening night thrashing of the Chieftains at Conard High School.
Dillon Kohl ran for 172 yards on just 11 carries and scored three touchdowns. The senior also caught a pass from Brady Lafferty for a 14-yard score. Kohl scored on runs of 1, 58 and 53 yards. The two scores of 50-plus yards saw Kohl hit the hole and leave defenders in his wake.
“That’s the difference with him from last year to this year, is just his ability to accelerate up the field,” Drury said. “He’s always had great vision and an ability to break tackles and things like that, but his acceleration has been brought up a level. He was running away from people, he was excellent to watch.”
M.J. Bennett got time in the backfield and racked up 51 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. Drury gave credit to the Knight offensive line, which helped the run game tally 292 yards on 32 attempts. The guys up front included Ryan Andrews, Jacob Vecchio, Matt Mirisola, David Sullivan and Luke DeAngelis, who were on the field when Kohl scored the game’s first touchdown on the pass from Lafferty with 7:23 remaining in the first quarter.
“I’m proud of what those guys did. We’ve been working them hard, and they know,” said Drury about the offensive line. “They’re the hardest-working group on the field every practice, and they understand that. They’ve done a great job kind of absorbing that, taking the tough coaching, improving and making corrections, and they executed well.”
Lafferty started at quarterback and finished 11-for-16 for 87 yards and a touchdown. Shane LaPorte threw one pass, but it went for a 55-yard touchdown to Carter Uhlman on the first play of the second quarter. LaPorte also caught three passes for 29 yards.
“I thought they did really well for their first opportunity. Brady did well running our offense, putting the ball where it needed to go, delivering it in tight spots,” Drury said. “Shane did really well, he made plays all over the field. He threw a strike, something we worked on all week, something we felt would be there, and it was great.”
Southington’s other touchdown came on a 76-yard interception return by Angelo Plantamuro in the second quarter. The snag and scamper by the senior captain put the Knights ahead 27-0 with 6:38 left in the first half. Max Casella led the defense with eight total tackles and a half-sack.
Billy Carr had five tackles and a sack, while Johnny Carreiro added five tackles. Riley Clingan and Anthony Henderson each registered four tackles and a half-sack while Ryan Walsh added three tackles and an interception. Cameron Sirois (1) and A.J. DeCecuis (0.5) also picked up sacks.
Southington led 13-0 after one quarter on a pair of Kohl touchdowns. The Knights picked up one passing touchdown, two rushing scores and the interception return during a 27-point second quarter barrage. In the third quarter, Southington added two more rushing touchdowns.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com