CHESHIRE - As the Southington football team gathered to take one final picture with the Apple Valley Classic trophy, the defense made sure to savor it just a little bit more than usual.
“Our defensive line was a bunch of monsters,” Blue Knights linebacker Ryan Montalvo said. “They were pushing back their tackles so they couldn’t get to us [as a linebacking corps] and I think that’s what made our defense so successful. They obviously have size on us, but technique beats size. The secondary did a hell of a job. Some people were calling us out saying our secondary was nothing and they stepped up.”
For 48 minutes, the unit harassed Cheshire quarterback Jake Raba, running back Elijah Allston and receiver Mike Jefferey, finishing the day with four tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions.
Anthony Vecchio picked off the first Raba pass in the first quarter. Matt Thompson, Southington’s defensive MVP, intercepted the second late in the third and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Shaun Wagner came away with the third pick in the fourth.
“My job was to read both the tight ends based on the running back and I hear the pop-pass alert,” said Thompson, breaking down his interception. “We scouted them a lot and knew they like to run a pop-pass. I’m reading the quarterback’s eyes to where he’s looking and he throws the ball and one of [our] seniors, Jack Terray, swipes one of the Rams’ player’s arms down and I was just ready to tackle him and it just fell right into my arms. Right from that moment, I knew I needed to get into the end zone.”
Cheshire had yet to win a game this season when it scored fewer than 27 points, and it remained true on Thursday. The Rams managed just 86 yards on the ground and completed 14 passes.
“I think our defense did a great job,” Southington head coach Mike Drury said. “There were some penalties on both sides, but I thought our defense did a great job of shutting down the run for the most part. They got a couple of big plays on us, but they responded on them.”