SECOND LOOK: SHS football dynasty isn't complete yet

Published on Wednesday, 4 September 2019 20:10
Written by Art Secondo

Here’s the scenario at the Southington High football program as the team prepares for its opener Sept. 13, and then a trip down I-95 to Darien the next Friday for its big “test” against a premier program. The locals were unbeaten in 2018.

You’re the head coach. Your record is 80 wins and 11 defeats in your Southington career. Your team is balanced with a decent crop of underclassmen and a handful of returnees. You have three candidates for quarterback. All three are talented and two can play defense if needed. You lost a good kicker but have a player who can kick extra points and short field goals.

Your assistant coaches, including your experienced father, are dedicated and include a former star quarterback who travels more than an hour from work to be at your team’s practice. The enthusiasm of the community is running at a peak level awaiting another winning season.

You are the head coach of a program that has created an acceptable monster. Your teams have basically destroyed the conference opposition. Yet, there’s pressure to show Southington can compete outside its comfort zone. Your teams have beaten a strong Cheshire program six years in a row on Thanksgiving morning. Good but not enough?

Your confidence is kept confidential. The buzz continues to be that Southington will field a team with a strong balance of offensive and defensive players but the big question is who will be the quarterback.

The days of QB Steve Barmore, who holds 11th place in state records with 464 yards from 2010 to 2013 and QB Jasen Rose, who set the state record for most completions in 2018, are gone. The kicking of 40-yard field goals are a memory since Kyle Smik. But the word is you have a trio of quarterback hopefuls who display scrambling abilities and strong arms and only one can start. Only one? You have the option of playing one on defense and shifting to QB if needed. One can boot extra points and limited field goals. Not a terrible circumstance.

Missing the postseason playoffs is something to which the Blue Knights are not accustomed. In 2017 that was the case and last year it was a quick exit after one game. The stinging memory of Darien ending Southington’s 32-game win streak at Boyle Field 50 miles from here still hurts.

You are probably tired of hearing about Greenwich, Darien, Fairfield Prep, New Canaan, Staples, Ridgefield, NFA and a few others in the prestigious SCC conference from the state’s Gold Coast. Good teams. Outstanding training facilities. Lots of cash to subsidize football stuff.

It’s a annual goal - win a state title in Class LL. Southington won plenty of them in the 1950s, when it was normal to be given a state title after an unbeaten season. Since then, Southington has flirted with championships, come close and battled at every opportunity but has three championships to brag about. The fact remains - this is a football dynasty.

Your days playing standout football in Bristol revealed that Southington was a place to eventually coach. Others from Bristol have preceded you to this town. You heard about the town’s passion for high school football. You’ve heard about Southington’s 33-game win streak in the 1960s and former coach Joe Orsene’s record of 50 wins, six losses and one tie. You’ve heard that Southington, since 1938, has endured a mere three losing seasons.

You are in a circle of great coaches like Fontana, Orsene, D’Angelo, Kelly, and you’re now you’re part of this prestigious group. It’s been almost a decade wearing the blue and white. You know you’ve earned a place as a great high school mentor.

Yet, like the Yankees, you have to keep proving something and giving something to that great program you joined. You’ve done it year and after year. You’ve been to the big dance numerous times but somehow, people only remember the ones you didn’t get invited.

You know the “promised land” is winning a state title and beating one of those highly rated SCC teams. You have an early chance in the second week of your schedule against that nemesis Darien. You owe them a defeat. You’ve heard how people down that part of the state believe they invented high school football. They believe Southington plays a soft schedule.

You know Southington fans cherish tradition and you’ve heard people are impressed that your vigor and continued dedication has not wilted with victories. Yet, the hard work never ends.

You are Mike Drury, the tough, former college linebacker and veteran head football coach at Southington High. You continued this dynasty. The trip to the big dance is on again.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, Southington Herald on Wednesday, 4 September 2019 20:10. Updated: Wednesday, 4 September 2019 20:13.