NEW CANAAN – Tuesday's loss to New Canaan in the Class LL quarterfinals marked the end of the road for Southington football's seniors.
A promising season came to an end at the hands of the Rams and the Blue Knights' 22-man senior class saw their high school careers close out in the 38-14 defeat.
“I'm proud of the seniors,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “They're a tough group of individuals. These guys have played through injuries and things like that. They've been warriors throughout the whole year for us.”
Picked as the seventh-best team in the state in preseason polls, the Blue Knights more or less lived up to those expectations with the No. 7 seed in the Class LL playoff bracket and an 8-2 record. Seniors Jack Barnum, Ryan Delmonte, Javon Thomas, Jackson Rusiecki and Austin Pszczolkowski played critical roles in leading Southington all season long.
At quarterback, Barnum was arguably the Blue Knights most important player and No. 16 put up 1690 passing yards for 17 touchdowns and a .604 completion percentage in 11 games.
Delmonte secured 537 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while Thomas totaled 722 rushing yards and 11 scores as Southington's top receiver and rusher this past season.
On defense, Rusiecki and Pszczolkowski posted impressive numbers with 159 tackles and 19.5 sacks between the two, highlighting a defense that allowed an average of 14 points a game.
“These guys carried the torch of Blue Knight football,” Drury said. “Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted it to end but we hit several of our goals this year and I'm proud of that.”
This year's seniors finished with a 27-6 record across three years, including a 10-0 regular season in 2018. Because of the cancellation in 2020, Drury had to count on these upperclassmen even more to instill a positive culture with the underclassmen that had never been part of the program.
“The seniors were great leaders, tough bunch of young men,” Drury said. “We're going to miss them. They really set the example. We had an off-year last year so we needed strong senior leadership to set the example of what needs to be done around here and they did and I'm proud of that.”
Despite the large group departing via graduation, Southington will return key pieces such as Lincoln Cardillo, Kamron Beaudoin and John Flynn.
Cardillo concluded second on the team in total rushing yards with 697 and tied Thomas with 11 ground scores. Beaudoin recorded 62 tackles for fourth-best among Blue Knights defenders while Flynn, a sophomore, compiled 218 receiving yards on just 17 receptions.
All indications point to C.J. DiBenedetto taking over for Barnum under center as the sophomore completed six of seven pass attempts for 87 yards and a touchdown over three games played.
For now though, Southington can look back on a successful season while the seniors can reflect on a unique and memorable past four years.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.