SOUTHINGTON - It hasnâ€™t taken Brandon Kohl long to adjust to his new role within Southingtonâ€™s offense.
Power, speed and vision. All qualities the senior provides.
While the Blue Knights are known for their air-raid attack, the running back position is just as vital in their success as their receivers on the outside.
â€śWhen you have good running backs, teams have to respect that and it gives you opportunities on the perimeter with your receivers,â€ť head coach Mike Drury said.
Over each of the past two seasons Southington has had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Alessio Diana and Vance Upham to rely on to bring balance to its offense.
Diana went on to rush for 1,142 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior year as the Blue Knights went on to average 45.7 points per game in 2015. Upham, meanwhile, ran for 1,950 yards and 25 scores in 2016, becoming the schoolâ€™s all-time leading rusher as Southington averaged 41.2 points.
Enter Kohl, who is set to be the Blue Knightsâ€™ No. 1 running back.
â€śI donâ€™t really think it changed that much,â€ť Kohl said of being the featured back this season. â€śI just have to play to the best of my abilities to prove how good I can be and hold myself accountable for everything and do my role on plays, even when I donâ€™t get the ball, it frees up someone else. Thatâ€™s the key to our offense, is everyone working together for a good outcome.â€ť
As Uphamâ€™s primary backup during his junior season last year, Kohl rushed for 651 yards and eight touchdowns on just 66 carries (9.9 yards per carry). He also caught seven passes for 58 yards and another score.
Although not a large sample size, the experience proved invaluable during his first varsity campaign and something for him to build off.
â€śDefinitely playing as much as I did last year was a big confidence booster,â€ť Kohl said. â€śVarsity football is fun and also challenging in places, but being seasoned and having played a lot last year, itâ€™ll definitely carry into this season.â€ť
Numbers aside, itâ€™s his all-around game, even when he doesnâ€™t have the ball, that his teammates have raved about throughout the offseason and confident as Week 1 approaches.
â€śNumbers aside, itâ€™s his all-around game, even when he doesnâ€™t have the ball, that his teammates have raved about throughout the offseason and confident as Week 1 approaches.
â€śBrandon is actually a very, very good blocker,â€ť said senior Ryan Montalvo, who will be Southingtonâ€™s No. 2 running back. â€śThatâ€™s one of his main things. He can block, he can run, heâ€™s knows what heâ€™s doing. But his balance is unreal. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve never seen before. Itâ€™s ridiculous.â€ť
And even though Kohl describes himself as more of the speed back to Montalvoâ€™s power-running style, the senior doesnâ€™t mind doing some of the dirty work. The favorite aspect of his game is his ability to block, whether thatâ€™s for quarterback Will Barmore or to help spring another one of the Blue Knightsâ€™ playmakers for a big gain.
â€śI know coach Drury is a big fan of that too,â€ť Kohl said. â€śHe always says blocking is his favorite part of football and I couldnâ€™t agree more. As a running back, when we do flies out of the backfield and a receiver gets the ball on a jet sweep, blocking is something I look forward to, to lay the big hit.â€ť
And plenty of opponents could be taking big hits from Kohl this season, whether themselves or on the scoreboard.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach