SOUTHINGTON - The Southington football team doesnâ€™t often find itself in meaningful regular season games towards the end of year. But today will perhaps be one of the most important for the Blue Knights.
With No. 10 Southington (7-1) on the cusp of the Class LL playoff rankings, the Blue Knights travel to face No. 19 South Windsor (7-1), which occupies the spot right ahead of them.
â€śWe gotta come out and be ready to go,â€ť receiver Tim Oâ€™Shea said. â€śI know theyâ€™re going to be bringing some intensity and if we match that intensity, weâ€™ll be good.â€ť
This will be the first meeting between the two since the 2014 season - a 48-0 Southington win - but as the Bobcatsâ€™ record indicates, this game could be more of a matchup and one that looks to come down to South Windsorâ€™s offense against the Blue Knightsâ€™ defense.
The Bobcats utilize a double-wing offense predicated on running the football often with a power play up the middle or a run off either tackle with three different tailbacks. Julian Ibes is the most explosive out of the group and is followed by Jimmy Tamburro and Ronnie Rickard. All three have the ability to run up the middle or take the ball to the outside.
But South Windsor has also shown an ability to hit some plays down the field from time to time in the passing game with quarterback Connor Kapisak. While not incredibly accurate, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound senior has been able to complete some deep passes once the defense becomes sucked in by the run game.
â€śYou gotta make sure you get aligned right,â€ť Southington head coach Mike Drury said of his defense. â€śTheyâ€™re going to throw some unbalanced looks at you and different eligibility with certain guys. You have to make sure your eyes are correct and where they need to be. This is the type of week where you have to have, defensively, great vision in terms of reading your keys and getting to the point of attack.â€ť
The good news for the Blue Knights is theyâ€™ve had an extra day of preparation to game plan for an offense they rarely see. And the Bobcats have had little trouble scoring points, averaging 30.1 per game, while showing an ability to win both the close games and by large margins.
â€śOffensively, theyâ€™re going to throw a bunch of different formations at you,â€ť Drury said, â€śprobably about 90 different variations, so it gives us an opportunity to figure out how to attack that defensively.â€ť
Defensively, Southington expects South Windsor to operate mainly out of a 4-2-5, while seeing a 3-4 depending on the field position and down with an emphasis on stopping the run. That unit for the Bobcats has not given up man points either at just 17.6 points per game.
The Blue Knights, however, enter the game averaging 35 points per game, having been held under 34 points just once this season - their 27-20 loss against East Hartford two weeks ago.
â€śAs always, we have to execute,â€ť Oâ€™Shea said. â€śWe have to be perfect. Our timing is going to be key since they play off [coverage]. The quick [passing game] is going to be there and we have to get the running game going.â€ť
After getting back on track last week, Southington would like to carry that momentum going forward, especially with a tough Thanksgiving Day ahead to close out the season.
The Blue Knights just have to make sure to win today first.
â€śThe kids have been dialed in and we just have to stay the course of action,â€ť Drury said.