SOUTHINGTON - The biggest question mark for the Southington football team heading into the first week of the regular season was who was going to be the starting quarterback.
After a three-way competition lasted throughout the summer and went on until the end of last week, the Blue Knights finally have their signal caller in junior Brady Lafferty.
“We’re excited about him,” head coach Mike Drury said of the 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback. “I think his pocket awareness and his pocket presence and his ability to push the ball down the field and really stretch the defense vertically and horizontally is a good thing to have at the quarterback position. When you’re able to make certain type of throws and get the ball all over the place that helps an offense because we’re the type of offense that likes to use the entire width of the field, length of the field.”
Southington certainly has a history of developing quality signal callers. The last four under Drury - Stephen Barmore, Jasen Rose, Will Barmore and last season’s starter Jacob Drena - all led the program to the postseason. Now, Lafferty will get a chance to show what he can do when the Blue Knights open the season Friday night at Conard.
“It’s really exciting,” Lafferty said. “We’ve been competing all offseason and to be named the starter is really great and I’m ready for the We’re all good quarterback. Shane [Laporte] is really good at running and throwing on the run. Sam [Bouchard] is a pocket passer like me. I feel like I’m a good pocket passer and can put the ball in some tight spots.”
Lafferty might have to. Southington will be breaking in three new receivers following the departures of Will Downes, Jacob Flynn and Jaime Lamson - all Division I players - as well as a number of new offensive linemen. Josh Vitti, Carter Ulman and Cameron Sirois will step in to the receiver roles to complement the backfield of Dillon Kohl, Angelo Plantamuro and M.J. Bennett.
There is also the Chieftain defense, which has struggled to contain the Blue Knights in the past, but has proven to be fairly versatile. Conard plays anything from a Tampa 2 to man-to-man and provides plenty of pressure if the short side of the field comes in play. The unit will also feature an experienced secondary with Joey Lemiuex, Silas Bridges and Jack Tousignant.
“We’re looking for our offense to play clean football,” Drury said. “Really limit the penalties and the self-inflicted wounds, balls on the ground, and then execution. We’ve been doing all the things right and everything we’ve talked about, now we have to go out there and do it.”
Much like Southington, Conard will also be featuring a new quarterback in the season opener. Arsen Shtefan, Jack Kennedy, Colum Flaherty and Israel Lopez have all seen time throughout the preseason behind center for the Chieftains and with no set starter named, the Blue Knights have been preparing for all four.
The running back position is also unsettled with Emmett Coco, Chase Fountain, Will Ball and John Calcaterra competing for touches. Conard does have three of its four top receivers coming back.
Southington does have some new faces again on its defense. Standout linebacker Kyle Messenger and safety Matt Thompson are gone and the team will be breaking in three new defensive backs. But as always, the unit believes its more than ready to go.
“Going against a new quarterback is always a challenge,” senior linebacker Billy Carr said. “They’ve never played a varsity game before, but our defense is going to come out ready. We just have to read our guards and keep the long ball in front of us and stop the run.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org