SOUTHINGTON – A season ago the Southington Blue Knights lost to Hall 27-19 which was the first time since 2013 Hall came out on the right side of the scoreboard. The teams have played each other annually for more than a decade, and Southington had consistently dominated this matchup each season. A year removed from the loss, the Blue Knights want to get back to the way things used to be on Friday night when they host the Titans in Week 2.
“They have a system that they run, and we’ve been playing them for 12 years now. We understand what they’re doing. They understand what we’re doing,” Southington head coach Mike Drury said. “They beat us last year for the first time in a while, so we’re hungry for this one.”
Drury said defense has always been a priority in his program. This mantra is important to the team this year specifically due to the fact that the Blue Knights are suiting up a first-year quarterback in junior CJ DiBenedetto.
“Every offense’s best friend is a great defense,” Drury said.
Strong defensive play early on can take some pressure off the quarterback as he continues to get reps in. Drury previously said his defensive backfield is one of the deepest he’s had in his time with the team. Led by senior Nick Bertola, the secondary took care of business in Week 1 against one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Newington’s Padraig Brown. Bertola tallied two interceptions with 10 tackles in the win.
“We did what our plan was defensively, which was to limit some of their top players and keep them out of the end zone,” Drury said regarding Newington’s offense.
Drury thought DiBenedetto and the offense did a lot of things well but there is still room for improvement as the group continues to get their feet wet.
“It was [DiBenedetto’s] first varsity game,” Drury said. “He got a lot of reps for us in practice and scrimmages but there’s no teaching tool quite like Friday night lights. I think he did some really good stuff and some things that he’s got to work through like decision making and understanding where to put the football.”
In the 35-14 win at Newington, DiBenedetto passed for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Running back Lincoln Cardillo will likely be one of the team’s greatest weapons moving forward after he rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns, while also racking up 76 yards through the air and adding a third touchdown.
The Hall Titans are coming off a 34-21 loss against the Ludlowe Falcons. Titans quarterback Bode Smith was 15-for-30 with 283 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Titans were gashed on the ground by Ludlowe’s Aaron Field who finished his day with 213 yards and four scores to lead the Flacons to a Week 1 victory.
Hall at Southington
When: Friday, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Southington High School
Records: Hall 0-1, Southington 1-0
Last Meeting: Hall 27, Southington 19 (10/1/2021)
Southington jumped from No. 10 to No. 7 in the GameTimeCT Poll after its Week 1 victory and Hall is a team that received votes in the preseason poll. A win on Friday for the Blue Knights could be enough fuel to make a push at the top-five and running back Lincoln Cardillo may have to be the engine to lead that movement. Cardillo combined for 148 yards of offense and three touchdowns the same week Hall allowed 213 yards and four touchdowns to Ludlowe’s top back. This week is an opportunity for Cardillo to exploit suspect run defense and prove the capabilities of Southington’s offense. Assuming the defense will hold up at the Blue Knights’ strength early in the season, this game could follow a similar script as their opener against the Nor’easters a week ago.
Cameron Beall’s Prediction
Southington, 30, Hall 18