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Southington shows NFA who is No. 1 with dominating win

 

 

The Southington High football team celebrates its second straight state championship after a dominating 49-0 win over NFA.

The Southington High football team celebrates its second straight state championship after a dominating 49-0 win over NFA.

NEW BRITAIN, Dec. 13 – The No. 1 team in the state and the defending Class LL champion Southington High football team was on a mission Saturday night at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. 

The Blue Knights wanted to leave no doubt of who is the No. 1 team in the state. Southington completed a second straight undefeated season and won a second consecutive state championship with a dominating 49-0 victory over Norwich Free Academy in the Class LL Large Division championship game. 

Junior quarterback Jasen Rose put on a show, completing 24-of-31 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns. Included in that performance was a spectacular 64-yard completion to senior Alexander Jamele in the first quarter on a third down and 31 yards play that went 45 yards through the air. 

Jamele caught seven passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns while senior Matthew Maxwell pulled in eight receptions for 127 yards and three touchdowns. They helped Southington gain 495 total yards in the game while the limiting the Wildcats to just 98 total yards. Jamele broke the state record for most career TDs. He now has 50.

Junior QB Jasen Rose threw for 348 yards and 5 TDs in Saturday night's win over NFA.

Junior QB Jasen Rose threw for 348 yards and 5 TDs in Saturday night’s win over NFA.

“It’s not about one guy and that what this team is about,” Southington head coach Mike Drury said. “It’s about a bunch of individuals coming together to be a great team. They played with energy.” 

Southington (12-0) dominated on both sides of the ball. Rose and his receivers had a ball. “They run great routes, they have tremendous speed and great hands,” Drury said. “Jay has a tremendous gift with his touch (on the ball).” 

Vance Upham ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for the Knights. Defensively, Daniel Williams led the way with 14 tackles while Matt Thompson had 10. 

This was over early. It took Southington just 1:55 to march 78 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Rose to Maxwell. On the second series for Southington, the Knights were facing third down and 31 yards from their own 20. But Rose lofted a beautiful pass down the right sideline and Jamele made a move to shake his defender and catch the ball on the run. He ran for about 15 yards on a 64-yard completion. 

Two plays later, Jamele caught a short two-yard pass from Rose to extend the lead to 14-0. 

Maxwell caught a 49-yard pass from Rose to give Southington a 20-0 lead with 3:24 left in the second quarter. The Knights forced NFA to punt with about two minutes remaining and Jamele picked up the ball on a bounce, slipped past two defenders and scooted downfield for a 62-yard punt return for a 27-0 lead with 1:58 to go in the second quarter. 

In the third quarter, Southington took a knee instead of trying for an extra point after two touchdowns in an effort not to extend its lead past 50 points. Coaches – even in the championship game – can face a one-game suspension in their next contest if they win by over 50 points. 

Southington's Vance Upham (34) gets into open space on the way to scoring on a 40-yard TD run.

Southington’s Vance Upham (34) gets into open space on the way to scoring on a 40-yard TD run.

And what about being voted No. 1 in the final state sportswriters and state coaches polls? “The guys played a great game today,” Drury said. “I think they’ll be in the conversation.” The 49-point victory was the most lopsided ever in a Class LL championship game, eclipsing the 34-point win by Xavier over NFA two years ago in 2012, 48-14.

NFA was led by Khaleed Exum-Strong, who ran for 55 yards on 12 carries. Jawaun Johnson ran for 22 yards on 22 carries. Johnson completed 1-of-8 passes for eight yards. 

Southington 49, NFA 0
At New Britain
NFA (8-3)             0  0  0  0  — 0
Southington (12-0)          14  16  19  0 – 49
First quarter
S: Matthew Maxwell 16 pass from Jasen Rose (Dan Parzych kick), 10:05
S: Alex Jamele 2 pass from Rose (Parzych kick), 4:03
Second quarter
S: Maxwell 49 pass from Rose (kick failed), 3:24
S: Jamele 62 punt return (Parzych kick), 1:58
S: Parzych 18 FG, 0:00
Third quarter
S: Jamele 23 pass from Rose (Parzych kick), 8:02
S: Maxwell 16 pass from Rose (Southington took a knee on conversion run), 4:11
S: Vance Upham 40 run (Southington takes a knee on conversion run), 0:52

 


by posted 12/15/2014
The ties that bind...and rebind

By Ken Lipshez Record-Journal staff

SOUTHINGTON — Every time a Southington football player scores a touchdown or makes a crucial tackle, he strikes a blow for a program established and strengthened through the unity, respect and knowledge exuded by an interwoven network of coaches and players that is likely to extend into the foreseeable future.

Southington head coach Mike Drury is the visible leader.

 

He came to the Blue Knights as a defensive coordinator in 2010 on the staff assembled by D.J. Hernandez. When Hernandez moved on to college coaching after an 8-2 season, Drury was chosen from an impressive array of candidates.

The patriarch of the Southington coaching network is Drury’s father, Chuck.

Chuck Drury launched the Pomperaug program in 1976, and further honed his knowledge of leading young athletes with coaching tenures in wrestling, track and basketball at Pomperaug and Bristol Central.

A sidenote that accentuates the depth of the Drury’s coaching bonds: Mike was a water boy and Chuck the assistant coach for the 1990 Class L champion Bristol Central team that featured Malcolm Huckaby, who went on to star at Boston College.

Prior to his stint at Pomperaug, Chuck was a freshman football coach at Central, where he coached Brian Stranieri. Stranieri, now an assistant principal at Southington High, was a finalist for the Knights’ head coaching slot in 1988 when Jude Kelly was hired.

Stranieri likes to tell a story about the 1980s that acquainted him with one of the finest Knights in shining armor.

“I went out to preseason practice one day and we were doing Oklahoma drills – the kids were all in a line,” he said. “There’s this tall, thin kid and we hear a crack. What was that? He snuck back into line and we heard, ‘Crack!’ again. Every 15th player, he’s sneaking in to get a hit in and we weren’t through the complete line yet.

“[Head coach] Dom DeAngelo comes over and says, ‘Who’s the skinny kid making the hits?’ It turned out to be Rob Thomson.”

Thomson went to star at Syracuse (1987-90), where he helped lead the Orangemen to four straight bowl appearances, made honorable mention UPI All-America and was the defensive MVP in the East/West Shrine Game.

In 1993, he became head coach at Bristol Central, Stranieri was his assistant and one of their best players was … Mike Drury.

Now, as Southington prepares to meet NFA in the Class LL Large final tonight, Mike Drury’s leading tackler is … linebacker Matt Thomson, son of Rob. Waiting in the wings is freshman Sam Thomson, younger son of Rob.

Mike Drury, when hired to replace Hernandez as Southington head coach in 2011, exercised classic judgment in building his staff in preparation for his first campaign. Bringing Chuck along was a no-brainer.

Rob Thomson gave up the Central job after the 1996 season to spend more time with his young family. He coached his boys through their Pop Warner days. Matt was a freshman when Mike Drury replaced Hernandez, so Rob got the call to come out of retirement and serve as defensive coordinator.

Mike Drury filled the rest of his staff with some contemporaries — such as junior varsity coach Dan Plant, a Wallingford native who played with Drury at Marist College — and others with Blue Knights pedigrees, such as Mike Forgione, who played with Rob Thomson at Southington.

Stranieri comes home

Stranieri served as Thomson’s assistant at Bristol Central, but retired so he could become an administrator. Thomson’s replacement, Frank Forcucci, left after one year. Stranieri reluctantly accepted the job for 1998 and in a reversal of roles, Thomson served as his assistant.

Stranieri left after one season, but Mike Drury has lured him back to the field once again to coach the Knights’ kickers and punters.

“There’s a good group of young guys out there and you just want to be a part of it,” Stranieri said. “What was killing me these last couple of years was watching these guys. I was always the No. 1 fan, but after the [season opener vs. Glastonbury], we had a little conversation. Mike made me a small offer.”

Stranieri is one of the many behind-the-scenes coaches whose names don’t appear in the state record book and rarely on Hall-of-Fame nomination lists, but are nonetheless invaluable to their respective programs. He and Chuck Drury received their training from 1970s-era mentors who were way ahead of their time.

“We were doing chalk-talks every day before we went out to practice,” he said. “We were doing film back then. I can still picture sitting in this little janitorial room with this projector and they always came out with a roll of cellophane tape because the film would break all the time. We’d miss a play or two and there’d be this blank spot where the tape was on it.

“We learned a lot about football in the classroom and then went out and applied it on the field. There weren’t a lot of schools doing that back then. We had a coaching staff and some talented guys who taught us a lot about football, but more importantly they taught us character. They taught us how to stay out of trouble and the right thing to do in the classroom.”

A patriarch’s legacy

Chuck Drury grew up in West Hartford near Hall High School when he was first introduced to football as a 9-year-old by a neighbor three years older who was playing Pop Warner. The regimen that his wise young mentor imposed on him began with a trip to the library to read about the game.

Drury’s coaching career at Pomperaug spanned 35 years, establishing the Southbury program as one of the South-West Conference’s best, year in and year out. The Panthers won three league titles and a Class MM championship in 2004.

Druy also guided Mike, the youngest of his four sons, through the interview process that landed him the Southington job and subsequently left Pomperaug to be a part of a new frontier.

Stranieri and the five-man search committee surmised they were getting a package deal when they hired Mike, but Chuck modestly downplays his role in the decision that has carried the Knights to the playoffs for three straight years.

“I told Mike you have a good shot and a good resume, but there are going to be head coaches and guys that have a little more experience than you,” Chuck recalled. “He always interviews very well. He came in second at Bristol Central, but they hired a former college coach.”

Chuck instructed his son to be patient.

“Mike wasn’t overly keen on that, but I had him prepared for it,” Chuck said. “I said, ‘Don’t give up football if they pick another guy because you’ve got a lot of years to coach.’ … I don’t know that I had anything to do with [Mike’s selection] other than he’s been around a head coach for a lot of years.”

Exuding honesty, modesty a bit of family pride, Chuck added, “I was one rung on the ladder. Everybody he’s had as a mentor he has emulated all their strengths, which made him who he is as a coach.”

The Thomson touch

The humble spirit that defensive coordinator Rob Thomson brings to the mix fosters the mutual respect that personifies the essence of such a successful endeavor.

When he said, “Mike put the whole thing together. Me and Chuck were more like sounding boards,” Mike Drury reacted faster than a safety blitz to dispel the notion.

“It’s great because I got to coach Mike, and then Mike got to coach my son because he’s his position coach, in addition to being head coach,” Thomson said. “Sam’s a freshman, so I’ll be around.”

All the men responsible for putting Southington’s players in the perfect position to succeed check their egos at the door in an arena where jealousy can quickly erode a winning platform and gnaw away at friendships.

They come from Bristol and Southington, blending diverse professional backgrounds into a melting pot. Their product, 33-2 over the past three seasons, is a testament that hard work, communication and mutual respect can not only advance the lives of impressionable young men, but cultivate a sense of nationalism through the entire community.

“Any time you get involved with coaching, it’s a lot of work,” Rob Thomson said. “We’re not doing it for the money. We’re doing it because we love it, but the big thing is you’ve got to be around good people. That’s why this little stint we’re doing has been fun.”

 

 


by posted 12/15/2014
Sky is the limit for Drury, Blue Knights

 
SOUTHINGTON, CT- 9 December 2014-120914EC01-- Four seniors are on the Southington football team, from L to R: Matt Koczera, Alex Jamele, Matt Maxwell and Matt Thomson during the annual media day at the Aqua Turf in Southington Tuesday. Erin Covey Republican-American
SOUTHINGTON — Mike Drury will celebrate his 32nd birthday Tuesday. The only present he wants is a second-straight state football title.

His Southington High football team (11-0) meets Norwich Free Academy (8-2) Saturday night at 6 at Willow Brook Park in New Britain for the CIAC Class LL Large Division title.

The way his coaching career is going at Southington, Drury is well on his way to what is expected to be a long and successful Hall of Fame career.

By the numbers: In his four seasons at the helm, Drury has compiled a 40-5 overall record and guided the Blue Knights to three postseason appearances and 19 consecutive wins, the state's longest active streak.

Of the 93 players on the varsity roster, only 20 are seniors, meaning that the future looks promising.

Among the underclassmen that are playing huge roles are junior quarterback Jasen Rose, junior running back Alessio Diana, sophomore running back Vance Upham, junior receiver Austin Morin, junior linebacker Logan LaRosa and offensive linemen Dylan Kulas and Trevor Godston, both juniors.

Drury uses his depth and substitutes freely throughout the game, particularly on defense.

Team captain and defensive standout Matt Koczera said that Drury has brought a vitality to the program that he believes will remain long after he and his teammates graduate.

"From the time I was a freshman, his first year as the head coach, he has kept everything consistent," said Koczera. "It's been a week by week process. Everyone is disciplined and prepared when they step on the field."

Does Koczera see anything different in 2015 and beyond?

"I don't see any drop-off," said Koczera. "The underclassmen will be in it to win it. I wouldn't expect anything less."

Even when the Blue Knights went 6-4 and missed out on the playoffs in 2011, Koczera could see a shift in the mindset of the team.

"We were on a winning path," said Koczera. "You could immediately see the energy level he brought to the field every day by the way he runs each drill. Coach Drury has such a great respect for his players and such a great passion for the game and it rubs off on all of us."

Captain and middle linebacker Matt Thomson agreed.

"Every other sentence that Coach Drury utters to us has the phrase 'mental toughness' in it," said Thomson. "Our success has coincided with the offseason strength and conditioning and weightlifting programs he started. He would remind us that by looking at the scoreboard during a game is helpful, but mental toughness will actually win us games."

Two-way starter and captain Matt Maxwell said it's been a collective effort in being able to reach this success. They didn't rest on their laurels.

"Every week we have been pushed to the limit and that hard work has carried us to where are today," said Maxwell. "After we won the title last year over Fairfield Prep, we got back together and refocused and decided that we were going to find a way to get it done again."

Captain and two-way star Alex Jamele described the dynasty in the making in one word: Commitment.

"We all have it, from the coaching staff on down to the players," said Jamele.

Drury learned that trait as a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling and track) at Bristol Central before moving on to captain the Marist College football team. After graduation, he joined the staffs at Cromwell and later at Pomperaug for his dad, Chuck, the longtime coach who has joined his son at Southington.

In 2009, Drury was the running backs and linebackers coach at Oxford while teaching special education at the Naugatuck Valley school. A year later, he joined D.J. Hernandez's staff as the defensive coordinator at Southington.

When Hernandez left after one season to coach at Brown University, Drury was elevated to head coach and joined the Southington faculty as a special-education teacher after earning a master's degree at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.

Drury's communication skills could be his best attribute although his football knowledge is abundantly clear. But Drury admits that he is still a work-in-progress and doesn't put any merit on his coaching resume.

"It's never about what I or we have done," said Drury. "The goal is to get better every day and maintain that level of consistency; then you just hope for the best."

by posted 12/11/2014
Our Rose Has Indeed Risen

Jasen Rose / 6'-3 / 225 lbs / 41 TD Passes / 2652 yards / 71% comp

By Bryant Carpenter Record-Journal staff

SOUTHINGTON — OK, we’re going to go back to the first quarter of the first game of the year for the 2014 Southington football team.

Not to dredge up bad memories for Jasen Rose, but to show just how fast and fully the junior has blossomed in his first year as quarterback for the Blue Knights.

• First pass: Intercepted, nice play by defensive back on overthrown deep ball down the middle.

• Second pass: Incomplete over middle, deflecting high off receiver’s hands, nearly intercepted.

• Third pass: Incomplete hitch, again sailing high.

• Fourth pass: Incomplete slant, broken up.

• Fifth pass: Incomplete screen pass, thrown low.

Rose, he remembers.

“That was my first game at quarterback in two years,” he said after practice Wednesday as the Blue Knights prepared for Saturday’s Class LL-Large semifinal against Glastonbury, the same team they faced on opening night. “I hadn’t seen a varsity game at quarterback ever, actually.

“I was nervous. Emotions were high. There was a big crowd. It was Game of the Week. I was nervous, definitely. We got the win, but it was ugly.”

“Thorny” might be the better word. Every Rose has one, right?

For this rookie quarterback, those first five possessions against Glastonbury on opening night and then a cold, wet afternoon on Nov. 1 against Newington, stand out as the only blemishes on a spectacular season.

And even then, consider that against Glastonbury, after the 0-for-5 start, Rose went on to complete 11 of his next 17 passes for 167 yards before re-aggravating a preseason shoulder injury late in the third quarter of a 41-38 victory.

And consider that against Newington, a spread passing team that generated virtually no offense playing in the same conditions, Rose still threw for 201 yards in a 27-0 victory.

Yeah, there hasn’t been much at all ugly about this first season at QB for Rose.

In fact, it’s been an American beauty. Rose has completed 71 percent of his passes (179-252) for 2,652 yards and 41 touchdowns. He’s thrown just nine interceptions.

Rose now goes into the postseason leading a rapid-fire, no-huddle offense that is a picture of symmetry. The Blue Knights, passing for 274 yards a game and rushing for 181, average 455 yards a game. They average 45.5 points.

Sometimes, numbers don’t reflect a fine machine. In this case, they do.

“You look around our offense, you’re not going to find a kid who’s not a stud,” said Rose. “We’ve got two stud running backs, four stud wide receivers and a stud O-line. That’s what you need to have an offense that does what we do.”

Rose left himself off the, um, stud list. His teammates and coaches do not.

They knew the situation Rose was walking into. He may have been a varsity starter last year, but he was at slot receiver/tight end. He was on the receiving end of passes from Stephen Barmore, who as a 3½-year starter wasn’t so much the incumbent quarterback as he was an institution.

Plus, Barmore led the Blue Knights to a state championship.

Here you go, kid, the job is now yours.

“He did have huge shoes to fill from Barmore last year,” said junior right tackle Trevor Godston. “He’s done a tremendous job of filling them and I’m happy to block for him.”

Due to his preseason shoulder injury, Rose didn’t have much prep time for his new role. On top of it, he’s an underclassman. The opening night jitters easily could have been foreseen.

So, too, however, was the big picture. Southington coaches had full confidence in their new signal caller. In Week 2, Rose was 21-for-32 for 301 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-15 win over Manchester, and stats of that sort soon became business as usual.

“You never foresee the numbers and things like that, but we knew his skill set,” said Southington head coach Mike Drury. “He’s a very intellectual football player and he can make plays. He makes real good decisions and he makes quick decisions.”

Rose stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 225 pounds. He could be a ball-carrying force much like Barmore was, but with Southington’s new two-back rotation of Alessio Diana and Vance Upham, he doesn’t have to be.

His job is to set up shop in the pocket created by Godston and the boys up front and determine which of his four receivers — Alex Jamele, Kyle Borawski, Matt Maxwell and Austin Morin — is in position to make the best play.

Jamele, the All-Stater, is the leading man with 67 catches for 890 yards, but Rose is equally comfortable going to the others. Borawski is 39-for-671, Maxwell 38-for-653 and Morin 29-for-451.

“He’s good at reading plays, seeing linebackers,” noted offensive lineman Vinny Milardo. “He also has great communication with everybody — the linemen, the receivers.”

“Bottom line,” said Drury, “he’s really matured as a player and as a leader on the team.”

Rose had three 300-yard games against Manchester, New Britain and Conard. Against New Britain, which also qualified for the Class LL-Large playoffs and will face NFA in Saturday’s other semifinal, Rose was 30-for-36 for 360 yards and six touchdowns.

The regular season was capped with another stat-busting performance, the best to date. Against Cheshire in Saturday’s Apple Classic, Rose completed 30 of 37 passes for five TDs and a season-high 418 yards.

The first half was a picture of democracy that actually works: 21-for-24, 308 yards, with five completions to each receiver and one screen to Alessio Diana.

“It’s not me. When you have the time that the O-line gives me, any ball can be there,” Rose said. “The receivers make every catch, but it really starts up front.”

Rose is generating considerable Division I college interest, but so far all of it is at tight end.

Given the way this season has developed, Rose is going to take an approach more befitting his new job. He’s going to scan the whole field.

“I’m not sure what I want to do yet,” he said. “But from this quarterback experience, I’m definitely looking into being a college quarterback.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


by posted 12/05/2014
Southington's defense has had strong season

 
 

SOUTHINGTON — To understand how Southington football’s defense operates, one only needs to look at a drill the players ran during Wednesday’s practice in the rain at Fontana Field.

The players start in a single line across the end zone area of the field, then take off toward a designated coach while running on an angle. For the Blue Knights defense, it’s about getting as many players to the ball carrier as quickly as possible.

“It’s always about 11 kids to the football every play,” senior captain and linebacker Matt Thomson said.

The name of the game for the defense, led by defensive coordinator Rob Thomson, Matt’s father, is speed. Southington may not be a big team, but it has plenty of speed. In the last six games, opponents haven’t fared well against that speed. After beating New Britain 54-20, the Blue Knight defense has allowed just two touchdowns — both in the fourth quarter with the reserves on the field — in the last six games. There are three shutouts within those six games, and no opponent scored more than eight points. Southington has won the six games by scores of 48-0, 41-6, 27-0, 49-8, 48-0 and 44-7.

In the regular season finale against Cheshire, the Blue Knights faced Ram senior running back Andrew Yamin, who came in averaging over 230 yards per game. Southington held the senior standout to 22 yards on 15 carries.

“Holding Yamin to [22] yards when he averages 200 yards-plus definitely surprised us,” Matt Thomson said.

Why have the Blue Knights been so good on defense? Southington coach Mike Drury sees a defense that is intense, plays as one and is aggressive.

“We’ve been tackling great this entire season, gang-tackling,” Drury said.

Thomson and senior defensive end Matt Koczera each have over 80 tackles on the season (84 and 81), but they also lead the team in assisted tackles (50 and 41), according to statistics posted on MaxPreps.com.

“One guy tackles him, you got 10 guys on his back gang-tackling him,” Thomson said.

Koczera (listed at 6-foot, 206 pounds), senior defensive end Dan Williams (5-11, 210) and senior defensive tackle Zack Spooner (5-10, 194) may not be the biggest line in terms of size, but they’re tough to get past.

“They play with a motor and an intensity, and they’re strong,” Drury said.

Each lineman is capable of stopping the run, then getting after the quarterback on pass plays. Zach Maxwell — now at West Point — is no longer patrolling the front line on defense, but Southington is still giving opposing quarterbacks fits. Koczera leads the team with seven sacks while Williams has tallied six. The Blue Knights have 30 sacks as a team.

“We have some great pass rushers this season,” Drury said.

At linebacker, there’s Thomson (6-2, 205), senior Steve Hamel (6-0, 191) and junior Logan LaRosa (5-11, 185). Thomson has been a great leader along with Hamel, who calls out the plays on the field.

“Our linebackers are tough in the middle and they are great blitzers,” Drury said.

Thomson and Hamel are tied for third on the team in sacks with 3½. Freshman Ryan Montalvo (5-10, 195), who rotates in at linebacker, is fifth with 2½ sacks.

“When teams pass, we’ve been really trying to pressure the quarterback,” Drury said.

In the secondary, quarterbacks have to deal with senior Alex Jamele (5-11, 176), senior Matt Maxwell (6-2, 190), senior Drew Barmore (5-11, 177), senior Peter Majchrzak (5-10, 166) and sophomore Anthony Plantamuro (5-9, 155). Maxwell is tied for the team lead in interceptions with Thomson at three while Barmore has two.

Southington’s defense has given up less than seven points per game and has forced opponents into 28 turnovers. The Blue Knights have made plenty of noise with their explosive offense this season, but their defense has also been great.

“It’s doing your job, and we have a great defensive coordinator in Rob Thomson,” Drury said.

Southington also has great defensive players who are committed to playing hard on that side of the ball. The Blue Knights look to stay aggressive on defense in their Class LL-Large semifinal against Glastonbury on Saturday.

Kevin D. Roberts

 


by posted 12/05/2014
A record day for Jamele, with some extra pop

By Bryant Carpenter Record-Journal staff

WEST HAVEN — Here’s the funny thing about the day Southington junior wide receiver Alex Jamele broke the state record for touchdown receptions in a season: He played just as well, if not better, on defense.

“He plays with such a motor,” as senior quarterback Stephen Barmore put it, and you can trust his assessment since he has such a good view of the proceedings whether he’s throwing passes to Jamele or lining up with him in the secondary.

 

 

 

On Saturday, for the 25th and 26th time this year, Barmore and Jamele hooked up on a touchdown pass. No Connecticut combo has ever had so many in a single season.

The 25th, which tied the record, was a beautiful fade to the corner of the end zone from 22 yards out late in the first quarter. That got the Blue Knights on the board in their 45-0 CIAC Class LL semifinal victory over Ridgefield.

The 26th, which broke both the state record as well as the Southington team record for TD passes for Barmore, was a 29-yard slant early in the second quarter. That baby turned the game to rout, because less than four minutes earlier Jamele had picked off a Ridgefield pass and taken it 40 yards to the house.

And somewhere else in the midst of all of this, Jamele broke up another Ridgefield pass with such a lung-busting hit that it seemed to knock the air out of the Ridgefield pass attack before it could get off the runway. It certainly knocked the air out of Ridgefield’s intended receiver.

Alex Jamele 21, Ridgefield 0 and the game still had six minutes to go until halftime, but don’t put it that way to Alex Jamele.

“It’s not about the personal records,” he said. “It’s just about the W at the end of the game. I would never have gotten that record without my teammates — Barmore, the linemen, running backs blocking, receivers running great routes. It couldn’t be done without my teammates.”

This is true, but here’s what sets Jamele apart: He’s got the athleticism, precision and explosive step to run any route, the savvy to alter routes and the sure hands to grab just about anything Barmore throws his way, regardless of location or velocity.

Saturday’s two touchdowns were fine examples of this. A fade and a slant: soft-touch and a bullet, ballet and a bull in a china shop.

Then there’s the issue of shedding tacklers or making them miss. The six-foot, 175-pound Jamele’s a fair hand at doing both.

“What he’s able to do is run good solid patterns and then see things that top college and pro receivers see: He sees the window,” remarked veteran head coach Chuck Drury, who is now his son Mike’s offensive coordinator on the Southington staff. “There’s a window in every pattern. He gets to the right window and then, what he does when he catches it, he’s a show. He’s slippery, he spins, he controls the ball.

“And he catches everything,” Drury added. “He catches everything in practice. Every once in a while he’ll drop a few and get all mad at himself, and he’ll catch everything for the next hour. He’s got good hands. I don’t care how hard Steve throws it, he’s catching it.”

Fittingly, Barmore and Jamele celebrated Saturday’s records in tandem:

*For Jamele, his 26th TD catch eclipsed the state mark of 25 Woodland’s Anthony Scirpo set last year (Scirpo broke Aaron Hernandez’s previous record of 24, set in 2005). Scirpo had done it in 12 games. Jamele did it in 11.

*For Barmore, his 37th TD pass broke the Southington team record of 36 which Dan Bruetsch had set in 2000 a year after throwing 34.

The second-quarter slant is the one that did it for both, but the true piece of art was the first-quarter fade. The timing was not only perfect, it was into a corner of the end zone and it was into the wind. And it came on a third-and-10 after Southington had come up empty in the red zone on their first possession.

“It was literally how we designed the play,” Jamele said. “Barmore threw it in a slot no other quarterback can throw it into.”

Watching from the sidelines, Jamele’s older brother Zach was fired up.

“Yep, that’s Alex. I was so proud of him,” said Zach. “I knew he could do it and he’s got to keep doing it.”

Zach is one of Southington’s hard-hitting linebackers, and it’s undeniable that he and some of the other Southington seniors had a role in Alex’s football development.

“Of course,” Zach said. “I beat him up all the time. He was always smaller than me. He grew and now he’s like a tree.”

“Yeah, I’d definitely say Zach beats on me,” Alex concurred.

“He’s given me some toughness in my life. It’s the way I’ve grown up ... They definitely taught me a lot; this group of seniors means the world to me. I don’t know what I’ll do without them next year.”

Next year can wait, the record books, too. Jamele and the Blue Knights have one game left to play.

 


by posted 12/04/2014
Southington Tries to Defend Title in New Season

New QB Jasen Rose and Team will focused on the new season

http://foxct.com/2014/09/11/southington-football-tries-to-defend-title-in-new-season

 

Southington High School’s football team may have won the Class LL Championship last season, but starting September 12th the team will have to defend that title in the season opener against Glastonbury.

The team has a new quarterback, Jasen Rose, after Steven Barmore went off to Yale.  The past glory is in the past, according to head coach Mike Drury, and the team now needs to focus on the present.


by The Gridiron posted 09/11/2014
2013 STATE LL CHAMPIONS


by posted 05/05/2014
WINNERS OF THE 2014 SPRING PASSING LEAGUE

The Gridiron would like to congratulate the Southington High School football team for winning the 2014 Spring Passing League Tournament! 

 

After losing their first game, Southington won the next 8 games, needing to beat Manchester twice to win the tournament.  

 

Great job boys!


by posted 05/04/2014
2014 Championship Highlights
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