By Ned Griffen
Special to CIACsports.com
MaxPreps photos by Jon Bloom
View full MaxPreps gallery
The Blue Knights held Norwich Free Academy under 100 yards and mauled the Wildcats, 49-0, to win the CIAC Class LL-Large title at Willow Brook Park.
It was the second straight state title and third overall for top-seeded Southington (12-0), the top ranked team in both the New Haven Register media and The Day of New London coaches’ polls.
The Blue Knights outgained the second-seeded Wildcats, 495-98.
“We tackled phenomenally,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “We swarm to the football, and we played physical, and that’s what we preach. The kids executed the game plan to perfection and went against two great runners (Khaleed Exum-Strong and Jawaun Johnson) and an enormous offensive line.”
Alex Jamele said, “We just love to fly to the ball and hit people.”
Jamele had seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns to set the state career touchdown reception record. He passed Newtown’s Julian Dunn and finished with 50.
“It feels good, but this victory is way better than that,” said Jamele said, who also scored on a 62-yard punt return.
Jasen Rose completed 24 of 31 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns for the Blue Knights and Matthew Maxwell had eight catches for 127 yards and three scores.
Vance Upham ran 15 times for 104 yards and a touchdown for Southington. Defensive end Daniel Williams (14) and linebacker Matthew Thomson (10) were the Blue Knights’ leading tacklers.
Khaleed Exum-Strong ran 19 times for 61 yards for the Wildcats (8-3). He had rushed for over 2,000 yards on the season.
“They just did a great job,” Wildcats coach Jamel Davis said about Southington. “An excellent, excellent football team.”
Southington led 14-0 with over three minutes left in the first half when Maxwell made a spectacular catch for a 49-yard touchdown.
NFA was forced to punt on its next possession. The ball landed near Jamele, who thought for a second before picking it up and taking off. He took it for a 62-yard touchdown to push his team ahead, 27-0, with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the half.
“I saw that I had a lot of guys out in front of me and saw a little slot in front of those two defenders, so I took a chance,” Jamele said. “I kind of split those guys and had all my guys out in front blocking for me. It was definitely a big risk right there, but I took it.”
Drury said, “Some players have that little innate thing, they know what’s going on on the field. He saw the window; he saw the opportunity. … Watching as a coach, you’re going ‘no.’ then we’re saying ‘go’ in the very next breath.”
Southington 49, NFA 0
NFA 0 0 0 0—0
Southington 14 16 19 0—49
S—Matt Maxwell 16 pass from Jasen Rose (Daniel Parzych kick)
S—Alex Jamele 2 pass from Rose (Parzych kick)
S—Matt Maxwell 49 pass from Rose (kick failed)
S—Jamele 62 punt return (Parzych kick)
S— Parzych 18 field goal
S—Jamele 23 pass from Rose (Parzych kick)
S—Maxwell 16 pass from Rose (run failed)
S—Vance Upham 40 run (run failed)
RUSHING—NFA, Khaleed Exum-Strong 19-61, Jawaun Johnson 22-47, Daniel McDonald 2-13; Southington, Upham 15-104, Rose 4-31, Alessio Diana 4-21, Ryan Montalvo 1-3.
PASSING—NFA, Johnson 1-8-1-8; Southington, Rose 24-31-348.
RECEIVING—NFA, McDonald 1-8; Southington, Maxwell 8-127, Jamele 7-126, Kyle Borawski 4-50, Diana 2-20, Austin Morin 2-16, Upham 1-9.