By KEVIN ROBERTS
It took a minute for Will Downes and Southington football coach Mike Drury to each come up with their favorite memory of the senior wide receiver’s career. Both landed on the 2018 New Britain game—a 27-24 thriller at Veterans Stadium in New Britain with Downes’ fingerprints all over it…especially the final minutes.
“He kept that drive alive with two big-time catches that the majority of high school players don’t make,” said Drury. “Without those spectacular catches, we might not win that game.”
Southington did win that game, and that victory ranked high for Downes.
“That was one of the most satisfying team wins that I’ve been a part of,” Downes said. “Coming back from halftime, that was an unbelievable experience.”
Southington was down, 18-7, at halftime and trailed by the same margin entering the fourth quarter, but the locals were able to storm back to victory. Downes played a central part in the big offensive second half, as he did all season for the high-powered Blue Knight passing attack.
Downes will be bringing his good hands and solid athleticism to Marist College. Downes signed his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 6 during a ceremony inside the Southington High School library.
“Obviously I had connections, so I already knew about the place,” Downes said of Marist. “Going up there, meeting all the coaches and seeing the campus, I fell in love with it.”
Marist is the Alma mater of Drury, and former Southington players Matt and Sam Thomson were on the team during the 2018 season.
“It’s a culture of working hard, being a part of a group of guys that are all rowing the same boat in the same direction and competing out there. I know he’s going to fit in with that,” Drury said.
Downes had team-highs in catches (52) and yards (843) and scored five touchdowns in 11 games for the 10-1 Knights. He was an All-CCC Division I-West performer as a senior. What made Downes so good?
“I think it’s his competitive nature. It’s that drive. He doesn’t just want to go out there and just be average. He wants to be the best he possibly can be,” Drury said. “All his offseason work with us, and he worked with some former receivers for us.”
Drury said Downes worked with former Southington and Sacred Heart University standout receiver Tyler Dube, which has helped. What drives Downes to keep getting better?
“I think just trying to live up to the Southington expectations,” Downes said. “A lot of the plays I made are expected, and I’m just trying to go above and beyond the average player, I guess.”
As a freshman, Downes didn’t see college football as a future. It started coming into focus in his junior season, but then he got hurt.
“My senior year, it was definitely my top goal, and I’m glad I got it,” Downes said.
The University of New Haven, Merrimack College and Bentley University were pursuing Downes, but his focus for the last couple months was on Marist. Marist is where Downes will be going.
“It’s right on the Hudson, so there’s some nice views,” Downes said. “I like how the campus is all spaced out. It just seems like a very nice community.”
Drury said it’s cool to have a little pipeline going between Southington and his college Alma mater. Downes is the next one to make the journey, and Drury said Downes will do just fine.
“Just a great kid, awesome with his academics. All of the things that we talked about that we want players to take care of, he did that,” Drury said. “It’s exciting for him, and I know he’s going to do very well.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com