SOUTHINGTON - Southington head coach Mike Drury gathered his team after practice and told his players they had to be perfect in every aspect for tonight’s game.
Simsbury, he told them, would be coming ready to play. They had to be as well.
“Overall, we have to bring the energy as a team, sidelines, fans, everything,” Drury said. “We need the 12th man here. That’s a big thing about having home games. We need to play great special teams. We need to do all those little things and intangible things that make us successful.”
And the Blue Knights have had plenty of success in Drury’s tenure against the Trojans. Southington has won the last seven meetings between the two. Tonight, the third-ranked Blue Knights will look to make it eight.
Last season, Southington and Simsbury also met in Week 2. That game ended in a 56-7 rout in favor of the Blue Knights. But the Trojans finished 2016 winning five of their final six games to finish 5-5 and appear to have carried that momentum over to the start of this season. Last Friday night, the Trojans blew out Hall 42-7 behind quarterback Jackson Masters and running back Rafael Nieves, who ran for four touchdowns in the season opener, one of which went for 97 yards.
“The quarterback is the coach’s son, so you know he understands the game,” Drury said. “I know he’s a competitor. Their running back is a newcomer this year, but is a real explosive player and has the ability to make guys miss and break tackles. They have a dynamic wide receiver [Ralph Gilliard] that can make plays, too. On the defensive side of the ball, they fly around, they do a good job of squeezing you and forcing plays to the outside, so that forces you to adjust your blocking schemes. They’re going be ready [tonight].”
Controlling the clock could be a big part of Simsbury’s game plan. Although the Trojans like to run the ball frequently, they throw multiple formations at their opponents to spread out the defense and create mismatches for their playmakers. Screen plays, especially to Gilliard, are a favorite.
“We have to keep our eyes in check and make our reads,” linebacker Ryan Montalvo said. “If we don’t make our reads and get away from the game we like to play, that’s when teams start to score on us and people start making plays and start gaining confidence. That’s something we don’t want to give anybody because that gives them a chance to win and we don’t want that.”
The biggest question for Southington coming into the game will be the health of its offense which had a number of injuries to its starters. But the Blue Knights’ success will be determined upfront by the progress of its offensive line.
“We have to win the game at the point of attack, the line of scrimmage,” Drury said. “We have to make sure we play low, protect the quarterback and protect the football. We have to play with tempo and speed and most importantly execute.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach