Southington rallies past Fairfield Prep to win first Class LL title since 1998

CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Southington's football celebrates with the Class LL championship  plaque. (Mara Lavitt - New Haven Register)

CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Southington’s football celebrates with the Class LL championship plaque. (Mara Lavitt – New Haven Register)

CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Southington coach Mike Drury gets a congratulatory hug. (Mara Lavitt - New Haven Register)

CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Southington coach Mike Drury gets a congratulatory hug. (Mara Lavitt – New Haven Register)

WEST HAVEN >> There’s a reason why football games are four quarters, and often the final one is usually the most pivotal.

That was the case for fourth-seeded Southington against No. 7 Fairfield Prep in the Class LL state championship game.

The Blue Knights trailed the Jesuits by two touchdowns at halftime, but an inspired defensive effort in the second half lifted Southington to its first state title since 1998.

[PHOTOS: Southington wins Class LL title]

The Blue Knights scored 24 points in the fourth quarter and went on to earn a 52-34 comeback victory Thursday at Ken Strong Stadium.

Southington (12-1), making its first trip to the final since 1999, won its second title. The Blue Knights are now 2-7 in state championship games.

[Complete statistics]

“It’s been 15 years,” Southington senior Zach Maxwell said. “This is the most unbelievable feeling to bring this back, and knowing the whole community was behind us.”

Maxwell, who finished with eight tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, was part of a swarming Blue Knights defense, which limited Fairfield Prep (11-3) to just six points in the second half after trailing 28-14 at halftime.

“We made a couple of adjusts offensively and defensively, like we always do,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “Defensively those ones really helped. We talked to the staff; defensive coordinator, Rob Thomson, made a little adjustment, and it was fantastic. We just told the kids ‘hey, we’re right in this game’. Champions are made when you bounce back, and when you’re down, and how you react when you’re down a little bit. The kids reacted, they responded, and they came out and played a great second half.”

The Southington defense forced Fairfield Prep to punt on the Jesuits’ first possession of the third quarter. This led to a 60-yard touchdown pass from senior Stephen Barmore to junior Alex Jamele to cut the Fairfield Prep lead to 28-21. After forcing another punt, Barmore and Jamele connected again, this time on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Kyle Smick’s point after kick tied the game at 28.

Southington's Alex Jamele tries to slip from the grasp of a Fairfield Prep defender. He finished with 10 catches for 230 yards and 3 TDs (Mara Lavitt - New Haven Register)

Southington’s Alex Jamele tries to slip from the grasp of a Fairfield Prep defender. He finished with 10 catches for 230 yards and 3 TDs (Mara Lavitt – New Haven Register)

Smick then kicked a 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to put his team up 31-28. The lead was short lived, however, as Fairfield Prep senior Nick Crowle scored on a 7-yard run to temporarily put the Jesuits up 34-31. On the next possession, Jasen Rose caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Barmore to put Southington up for good, 38-34, with 8:11 remaining.

Barmore completed 22 of 33 passes for 346 yards. All four of his touchdown passes came in the second half. Jamele caught 10 passes for 230 yards and three scores.

“More a case of not getting the job done,” Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea said about his team’s defensive struggles in the second half. “They might have had some people hitting some different gaps, but we didn’t block them. Every time it’s a bunch of one-on-one plays. We didn’t win as many as we should of.”

Colton Smith scored on touchdown runs of 17 and 2 yards in the first quarter. In between, Southington’s Tyler Hyde scored on a 2-yard run, but Fairfield Prep led 14-7 after one quarter. The Jesuits then took a 21-7 lead on Crowle’s 53-yard run in the second quarter.

Southington responded on a 1-yard touchdown run by Barmore, but Smith connected with junior John DelliSanti on a 31-yard touchdown to put Fairfield Prep up by 14 at the break.

Jamele caught a 20-yard touchdown from Barmore in the fourth quarter. Barmore made two interceptions, including one he returned 67 yards, late in the final stanza. Matthew Koczera led Southington with 12 tackles, while Zach Jamele made 10 tackles and an interception. Matthew Thomson also made an interception for the Blue Knights.

“We went into the locker room with our heads held high,” Maxwell said. “We knew that we had to continue to play assignment football. That’s really all there was to it.”

(Mara Lavitt - New Haven Register)  December 19, 2013 West Haven CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Fairfield Prep's quarterback Colton Smith carries the ball with Southington's defense after him including #8 Matthew Maxwell.

(Mara Lavitt – New Haven Register)
December 19, 2013 West Haven
CIAC Class LL football championship: Southington 52, Fairfield Prep 34. Fairfield Prep’s quarterback Colton Smith carries the ball with Southington’s defense after him including #8 Matthew Maxwell.

Score by Quarters  Score 
FAIRFIELD PREP   14  14  0  6  34 
SOUTHINGTON   7  7  14  24  52 

First quarter
F — Colton Smith 17 yd run (Henry Healy kick)
S-Tyler Hyde 2 yd run (Kyle Smick kick)
FP –Colton Smith 2 yd run (Henry Healy kick)
Second quarter
FP — Nicholas Crowle 53 yd run (Henry Healy kick)
S–Stephen Barmore 1 yd run (Kyle Smick kick)
FP–John DelliSanti 31 yd pass from Colton Smith (Henry Healy kick)
Third quarter
S–Alexander Jamele 60 yd pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)
S–Alexander Jamele 4 yd pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)
FP –Nicholas Crowle 7 yd run (Henry Healy kick failed)
Fourth quarter
S–Kyle Smick 21 yd field goal 8-75 2:14 31 – 28
S–Jasen Rose 7 yd pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)
S–Alexander Jamele 20 yd pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)
S–Stephen Barmore 67 yd interception return (Kyle Smick kick)

 

John DelliSanti catches a 31-yard TD pass from Colton Smith to put Prep up 28-14 in the second quarter of Class LL final  December 19, 2013 West Haven (Mara Lavitt - Register)

John DelliSanti catches a 31-yard TD pass from Colton Smith to put Prep up 28-14 in the second quarter of Class LL final
December 19, 2013 West Haven (Mara Lavitt – Register)

Comments

  1. JB says

    That right there is my vote for All-State QB … what a come back and leadership performance by Barmore. Congratulations to Southington on a strong finish against an outstanding Prep defense and playing shutdown defense in the second half … that has to rank as one of the best team performances of the year.

    • SCC fan says

      JB, I agree that Barmore’s performance and stats for the season puts him at the top of QBs in CT. Jamele is hands down the best WR in the state. His running after the catch was very impressive and a reason he broke the state record for TDs by a WR.

      That was a battle of the titans game and was a pleasure to watch. You had the relentless defense and the best QB/WR combo for Southington and the most brutal punishing FB in the state and one of the best, if not the best, dual threat QBs on the other side. Delisanti was also impressive for Prep and is also only a junior like Jamele.

      Congrats to Southington and to Prep on a great season. Also congrats to Ansonia, St Joes and NC and all the other playoff teams. Hopefully, 2014 will be just as exciting as 2013.

      On a final note, great job to SPB and the rest of the media for covering CT Football. It has been a joy. Happy Holidays

  2. OLU says

    Very surprised at the outcome as Prep had been a 2nd half team all year. Hats off to Southington, they are the real deal!

  3. Joe Willie says

    JB totally disagree,pay attention….Outstanding Prep D? Are u kidding, Championship teams dont give up 38 in a Half, Amity chopped them up for 33, you got caught up in the Prep hype,…there D gave up Points/yards all year ……theres a reson no FB titles since 1988!!

  4. JB says

    Southington found the Prep weakness (secondary) and Barmore / Jamele exploited it well when needed for big plays. But besides that, Southington did not move the ball much, especially on the ground. Most of the points in the second half came off Prep offensive turnovers … the 4 INTs, especially Barmore’s pick-6 were killers. Prep is not a passing team and made the mistake of going away from what got them to the finals. Time of possession is telling … Prep 28 minutes vs Southington’s 19. Yet they gave up 52 points. Hats off to Southington, they found the weaknesses and took advantage.

    • Hawk says

      You can have the biggest o/d line in the state but preps secondary and heart wasn’t there in the 2nd half. I predicated a blue knights 44-20 score about 10 days ago. Time of possession in blue knights games means nothing because we can score quick and often which therefore takes away minutes for us in that aspect. Glad we made some half time adjustments and smoked prep in the 2nd half. Southington had the 2 best players on the field last knight by far. Southington outhit and made some big plays in the secondary last night breaking up some key passes. If southington plays Ansonia right now they would blow them out by 40. Blue knights easily number 1 team in state. Ansonia doesn’t have the depth to go 4 quarters with knights. We beat them 64-21. Jamlee got snubbed on Gatorade state player of year. 30 total tds as a wr equals domination. He may be a better defensive player then an offensive player. Can’t wait to watch the kid next year. Once a knight always a knight. Welcome to the club boys. 98 and 13 will forever be sketched in ct football history!

      • SCC fan says

        Hawk, I agree with the Ansonia outcome. This Southington team was impressive, quick, explosive and many playmakers. Congrats to Southington for making the right adjustments at half and to the coaching staff which out coached a very predictable Prep Offense. Run, run, run against a stacked box was not working. Prep had a chance right before half and receiving the kick off in the 2nd half to put the game away but the run run run and then punt will not get you the title.

  5. CTFootball Fan says

    Anyone reading these posts regularly realizes Joe Willie is an ignorant hater who’s team (or his kid’s team) was beat by one or both of these teams. I was at the game and sitting with Southington side and anyone who saw the game knows this was a heavy weight bout with both teams standing toe to toe and taking big shots. Believe me, the Southington fans knew this was a fight and Prep was going to go down to the wire. Anyone who saw it also know that this game could have gone either way, even very late in the game. Prep scored to go ahead and Southington came back to take the lead. It seemed that whoever had the ball last was going to win. Prep was moving with a little over 4 min. left and Southington looked concerned. Then Prep QB (who had another terrific game and showed tremendous heart) threw a terrible interception that sealed the game. If Prep continues to move the ball on that drive, they could very easily have took the lead with little time for Southington to score.

    I live in N.C. and saw a lot of football this year, especially N.C. games. I must say that Southington is the best team in the State that I saw. I didn’t see Ansonia play so I need to temper my comments because it wouldn’t be fair to make pronouncements about being #1 in State but I do believe Southington is better than N.C. QB and recievers are best. Special teams are great. They are bigger and stronger and their defense stepped up.

    Prep also showed that it is a very, very strong team, even though they lost. If a few calls go Prep’s way, we might be looking at a different LL champ. Joe Willie is, of course, dead wrong about the defense. Southington smartly exploited the one glaring mis-match and made Prep pay. One on one, the Prep DB covering Jamele was way overmatched. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Prep coaches didn’t adjust. Otherwise, Southington had great trouble consistently moving the ball against Prep defense.

    Overall, the game was every bit worth the wait and a tremendous end to the CT high school season.

  6. jeb says

    Great atmosphere at West Haven High School. The field was in very good condition and everything else from the scoreboard, P.A. announcer and fan enthusiasm led to a great ending to the football season

    So glad I had a chance to see Southington in person..they are a legit top five team and can play with all the states best teams. Congrats are in order for Ansonia, St. Joes, New Canaan and Southington for winning the state championships in their divisions.

    Thanks again for the SCC and the FCIAC challenge and were all looking forward to next years challenge.

    SPB……..thanks for all you do in keeping high school football on everyone’s mind with your informative and insightful blogs and comments throughout the year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

  7. Kelly says

    Barmore played well, but that Jamelli also really made him look good. That receiver continuously out-ran, out-jumped, out-juked and out-fought for the ball- he must have had 200 yards in the second half and was very impressive. Also, did anyone notice that Southington kicker? I think that kid drilled a 50 yard field goal in warmups before the second half in frigid conditions. Smith and Crowle were extremely impressive running the ball- Crowle is a beast and Smith is highly elusive. All in all, a very exciting championship game with two talented teams playing their hearts out.

  8. says

    Did Smith change Jerseys in the 2nd half after he went out (normally #2) or was that the Soph with #10 at QB from the mid 3rd on?? I saw him go down and not come back for a play but the announcers kept saying Smith, so I wasn’t sure if he just changed jerseys??

  9. uncleleo says

    one man’s opinion,

    Top six teams in ct

    1. tie Ansonia and New Canaan
    2. St.Joes
    3.Southington
    4.Darien
    5.Glastonbury

  10. Game Watcher says

    Why the hate on Prep? They beat your precious team? They had a great season and were beat last night by the better team.

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