NEW BRITAIN >> If Southington had anything else to prove, it did so Friday night.
The Blue Knights dominated Norwich Free Academy 49-0 to claim the Class LL-Large title, their second consecutive state championship and third overall, at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
In the third quarter, senior wide receiver Alex Jamele became Connecticut’s all-time receiving touchdown leader when he caught a 23-yard pass from Jasen Rose to give Southington a 37-0 lead. Jamele finished his career with 50 touchdown catches.
“It’s pretty cool,” Jamele said of the record. “But two state championships, that’s great.”
The all-state receiver made Willowbrook Park his playground. Aside from the seven catches for 126 yards and two touchdown’s, Jamele had an interception on defense and also returned a 62-yard punt to the endzone that made everyone in the stadium gasp.
“They always talk about big players make big plays in big games and that’s what he did,” said Drury of Jamele. “He just played lights out on both sides of the ball. On special teams, punt returner, getting a spark when we needed it, taking it to the house. He’s a kid we’ll sorely miss.”
With 1:58 left in the second quarter, he picked up a bouncing ball, made two defenders miss and he was off. That’s the kind of night it was for Southington.
“There’s definitely a big risk right there, but I took it,” Jamele said. “I saw a lot of guys out in front of me and I saw a slot between those two defenders, [the ball] was rolling so I took a chance. Kind of split those guys and I had all my guys out in front blocking for me.”
From the opening kick, the Blue Knights moved the ball with ease. Jasen Rose completed 24 of 31 passes for 348 yards and five touchdowns, three of which went to Matt Maxwell, including a 49-yarder down the right sideline that he was able to reel in over the back of the defender.
Big play after big play led the Blue Knights all season and in the state final.
During the second drive, Southington was forced into a third and 31 situation after a holding penalty and sack of Rose. But that was no problem. Rose hit Jamele for 64 yards in stride in front of his coach, Mike Drury.
“That’s a play we put in this week,” Drury said. “We repped the heck out of it. We knew that we were going to be in a situation where we may need it. (We) kind of set it up the play before. Jay threw a great ball and obviously you’ve got Al [Jamele] out there and just making the play.”
On defense, Southington held NFA to 98 total yards, 80 of which came on the ground. Khaleed Exum-Strong ran 19 times for 55 yards and Juwan Johnson ran 22 times for 22 yards.
“I think it’s just a gang-tackle mentality,” Drury said. “Our guys are great tacklers and winning the battle up front. We’re smaller, but we’re quicker and have really good strength, so we’re just consistent with our game plan. Coach [Rob] Thomson put together a phenomenal game plan against these guys and was really able to counteract a lot of things they were trying to do.”
The Wildcats managed just six first downs while punting seven times. After the final two touchdowns, Drury had Rose take a knee during the extra point to avoid the 50-point rule.
Vance Upham ran for a 40 yard score late in the third quarter as just an added bonus.
Southington has been the No. 1 team in the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register poll all season and after winning a second state championship, the players feel they have finally proved that the ranking belongs next to their name.
“We definitely came out probably the most intense we’ve ever come out and we made it show today,” Rose said. “State championship games don’t end up 49-0. That’s not what happens. But the way we came out, with the intensity we came out with, there’s not a team in the state that can stop us.
“I think this definitely proves it — there’s not a team in the state that can stop us, no matter what. That’s proved, that’s definitely proved.”
Southington 49, Norwich Free Academy 0
(at Veterans Memorial Stadium, New Britain)
Norwich Free Academy — 0 0 0 0 — 0
Southington — 14 16 19 0 — 49
S-Matt Maxwell 16 pass from Jasen Rose (Dan Parzych kick good)
S-Alex Jamele 2 pass from Rose (Parzych kick)
S-Maxwell 49 pass from Rose (Parzych 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 (Rose failed)
S-Vance Upham 40 run (Rose failed)
Team records — Norwich Free Academy 8-3, Southington 12-0