Expectations were high for the Southington football team entering this season. After losing to Darien the past two years in the Class LL semifinals, the motto remains championship or bust.
Now at the halfway point, the second-ranked Blue Knights appear more than capable of doing just that, outscoring their opponents by an average of 40-5.
With Southington on its bye like the rest of the CCC, the Blue Knights will have a have a week to rest before beginning the second half of the season.
With the postseason looking like a foregone conclusion, here are the four things we have learned about Southington:
At the halfway point
1. Will Barmore has come into his own
Last season was more of a learning experience than anything for quarterback Will Barmore. With the running game playing a high level, he was asked to facilitate the ball and not create turnovers and for the most part, it worked.
But as the season progressed, Barmore started to look more comfortable and confident on the field and in the Blue Knights’ system. And he has carried that into the offseason and through the first five weeks of this year. Along with a stronger arm and being more vocal, all of his numbers up.
At the halfway point he has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,178 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. What has also been impressive is the way he has been able to pass the ball. The senior signal caller is averaging 13.4 yards per completion and 235 yards per game.
With the running game still trying to find its footing, Barmore’s ascension has been important for Southington.
2. The run game is starting to hit its stride
Speaking of the running game, this has been the biggest question mark of the offense outside of the offensive line.
After losing senior Brandon Kohl to a torn ACL in the first game of the season after just seven carries, the question became who would take over the No. 1 running back duties. And while the Blue Knights haven’t been able to find one back in particular, they’ve decided to go with two in Tanner LaRosa and Ian Agnew.
Overall, both have performed rather well for what they are asked to do within the offense. LaRosa has 66 carries for 298 yards and six touchdowns, while Agnew has 66 carries for 264 yards and six scores as well.
Neither has eclipsed the 100-yard mark yet and might not this season, but it should be something to keep an eye on through the season half of the season.
3. The Blue Knights defense is underrated
It’s no surprise the offense, especially Southington’s, gets a lot of attention. Teams need points to score and while the Blue Knights’ unit has played exceptionally well through much of the first half of the season, the defense deserves just as much if not more credit.
At the points last year, opponents were scoring a mere 5.4 points per game. This season, as difficult as it may seem, Southington has been even better. Opponents are averaging just 5.2 points of offense with Conard managing to find the end zone the most - twice.
The Blue Knights are not only generating pressure, but are forcing turnovers, making it tough for teams to mount comebacks. The defense has recorded 23 sacks and 41 tackles for loss, while coming up with eight interceptions and recovering all four of the fumbles it has forced.
Perhaps the best part is the number of playmakers the unit has at every level. Sean Scanlon and Cole Brock lead the defensive line. Ryan Montalvo, Ian Hall and Joe Koczera form a dynamic linebacking corps with Sam Thomson and Shaun Wagner playing plays in the back end in the secondary.
The offense will put up points, but a big reason for the 5-0 start has been the 11 starters on defense.
4. Southington still hasn’t played anyone and might not until the playoffs
The Blue Knights have looked dominant through the first five weeks of the season, outscoring opponents 200-26. The only problem is it hasn’t really been able to tell us much about Southington.
The Blue Knights have never had much difficultly against a weak CCC and the first five weeks showed as much in what has amounted to an extended preseason. Their first five opponents have a combined 9-16 record with the most successful being a 3-2 Conard. Southington can only play the teams on its schedule, but with games against New Britain (2-3), East Hartford (4-1), Enfield (1-4), South Windsor (5-0) and Cheshire (3-2) remaining, we might not know how good of a team it will be until the second round of the playoffs.
South Windsor and Cheshire do have the capabilities to test the Blue Knights before the regular season comes to a close, it just remains unlikely.
For now, however, Southington will just keep plugging away with no added benefits other than getting a chance to work out any issues or kinks it may have.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach