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No. 1 Southington is too quick for Simsbury

Simsbury sophomore Riley Shanley (13) made his first start at QB vs. No. 1 Southington. Nick Worthington (45) puts pressure on Shanley.

Simsbury sophomore Riley Shanley (13) made his first start at QB vs. No. 1 Southington. Nick Worthington (45) puts pressure on Shanley.

SIMSBURY – It happens every year. Teams face an outstanding opponent and you see how you measure up. Simsbury High coach Jeff Osborne calls it a measuring stick game. “You play your best and you see what happens,” he said. 

Simsbury found out they have some work to do before they measure up to defending Class LL champion Southington – at least this year. Ranked No. 1 in the state sportswriters poll, the Blue Knights forced four Simsbury turnovers in a 47-7 victory in CCC Division I West action Friday night at Holden Field. 

Simsbury fumbled the ball three times on its first two offensive series. They lost two. Both times, Southington capitalized with touchdowns. The Knights led 14-0 in less than five minutes of action. It was 20-0 by the end of the first quarter. 

“We performed well,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “The guys came out firing on all cylinders in all facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. That is what we stressed this week.” 

Southington’s junior quarterback Jasen Rose completed 19-of-22 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Vance Upham ran for a 73 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Teammate Alessio Diana ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on six carries while Rose scrambled for 26 yards. 

Southington QB Jasen Rose tries to escape the tackle from Simsbury's Zach Graham (28).

Southington QB Jasen Rose tries to escape the tackle from Simsbury’s Zach Graham (28).

All-State receiver Alex Jamele caught seven passes for 78 yards while teammate Kyle Borawski caught six passes for 67 yards. The Knights marched up and down the field. In the first half, they had 17 first downs. 

Southington’s defense was outstanding. Simsbury (2-1, 0-1 CCC Div. I West) managed to earn just three first downs in the first half and one was due to a penalty. Southington’s first team defense limited Simsbury to just 47 yards and forced four turnovers in about 2½ quarters. 

Sophomore quarterback Riley Shanley, who rushed eight times for 46 yards, made his first career start against one of the top defenses in the state. Grason Foster, who started the first two games for the Trojans, got hurt last week against East Hartford. Shanley completed 9-of-17 passes for 56 yards and one touchdown. 

“I’m proud of Riley,” Osborne said. “That’s a tough situation to step in against the No. 1 team in the state. They’re super fast.” 

It was a rough outing from the start for Simsbury. The snap was bobbled on the first offensive play of the game. But Eric Bedson scooped up the loose ball and rambled 34 yards to Southington 17-yard line. But two plays later, there was another Simsbury fumble that Southington’s Logan Larosa recovered. 

Using a quick, no-huddle offense, Southington (3-0, 1-0 CCC Div. I West) marched 82 yards on 10 plays in just 2:33 to take a 7-0 lead on a 19-yard touchdown run by Upham. On Simsbury’s next possession, there was another lost fumble and Matt Maxwell recovered for Southington. Two plays later, Rose scored on an 11-yard run for a 14-0 lead. 

Simsbury did pick up two first downs on its next drive but had to punt after the drive stalled. The Blue Knights responded with a nine-play, 81-yard drive in 2:17 with Upham scoring from the seven with 1:30 left in the first quarter for a 20-0 lead. The extra point hit the upright. Rose had four consecutive completions on the drive, including a 17-yard pass to Kyle Borawski to the Simsbury seven-yard line. 

Southington scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from Rose to Maxwell and a 39-yard touchdown run from Diana for a 34-0 halftime lead. 

In the third quarter, Southington received the kickoff and marched 80 yards on nine plays in 2:52, scoring on an eight-yard touchdown reception to Borawski from Rose. On the drive, Rose completed eight passes for 72 yards. At one point, he had six straight completions. 

“It’s one thing to be fast but you have to bring the effort,” Drury said. “We’re trying to fly around out there. We try to preach speed, running to the ball and effort. If you have that effort, you might look faster than you really are.” 

With a 47-0 lead, the Southington starters went to the sideline. 

Simsbury got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Shanley gained 38 yards on a run to the left side to the Southington 25-yard line. He completed a nine-yard pass to Elijah Barrows to the Southington 16. Two plays later, he found Zach Graham in the end zone with a 13-yard touchdown reception. 

NOTES: Simsbury’s Sean Penney gained 81 yards on six kickoff returns in the first half. … Bedson caught four passes for 35 yards. … Southington leads the all-time series between the two schools, 33-11-5. It began in 1910. … It was the second largest margin of victory for Southington in the series. The Knights won by 60 points in 1916 in a 60-0 decision. 

Southington 47, Simsbury 7
At Simsbury
Southington (3-0)            20  14  13  0  — 47
Simsbury (2-1)                  0    0    0   7 – 7
First quarter
Sou: Vance Upham 19 run (Tyler Shoneck kick), 7:55
Sou: Jasen Rose 11 run (Shoneck kick), 7:14
Sou: Upham 7 run (kick fails), 1:30
Second quarter
Sou: Matt Maxwell 13 pass from Rose (Shoneck kick), 10:00
Sou: Alessio Diana 39 run (Shoneck kick), 5:30
Third quarter
Sou: Kyle Borawski 8 pass from Rose (Shoneck kick), 9:01
Sou: Drew Barmore 29 interception return (kick fails), 7:08
Fourth quarter
Sim: Zach Graham 13 pass from Riley Shanley (Scott Nanzig kick), 5:16
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Simsbury – Riley Shanley 8-46, Elijah Barrows 8-49, Eric Bedson 3-20, Sam Collins 2-0, Sean Penney 2-2, James Demaio 1-4; Southington – Alessio Diana 6-80, Jasen Rose 5-26, Matt Maxwell 1-10, Vance Upham 7-73, Matt Natelli 2-3, Luke Krochko 3-23, Hunter Forrest 4-7
PASSING: Simsbury – Shanley 9-17-2, 56; Southington – Rose 19-22-0, 191
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Bedson 4-35, Penney 1-minus 4, Barrows 3-13, Zach Graham 1-13; Southington – Alex Jamele 7-78, Kyle Borawski 6-67, Matt Maxwell 3-14, Alessio Diana 1-19, John Meade 1-13
RETURNS: Simsbury – Sean Penney 6-81 (kickoff), Barrows 1-4 (kickoff), Bedson 1-17 (kickoff)
FUMBLE RECOVERY: Logan Larosa (Southington), Matt Maxwell (Southington); INTERCEPTIONS: Drew Barmore (Southington) 1-29, Anthony Plantamuro (Southington) 1-0

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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