#TrainingCampTour VI: Southington

Jasen Rose will look to connect with a fresh receiving corps after a most prolific trio graduated in June.

A Blue Knight Dynasty in the Offing?

Before a victory in the 2014 CIAC Class LL-Large championship game, Southington had never won back-t0-back titles. In fact, the only title that the Blue Knights had ever captured occurred back in 1998. Coach Mike Drury has built a program on Fontana Field’s turf, which is important to follow in 2015 as Drury and his staff aim to move on toward a third straight state title without some key parts from last year’s team.

Alex Jamele graduated from Southington this past June with an all-time Connecticut high school football mark of 50 touchdown receptions. He will play for the Blue Devils of CCSU instead of the Southington Blue Knights this fall. The trio of Jamele (18), Kyle Borawski (13), and Matt Maxwell (12) collected 43 touchdown catches in 2014. Borawski and Maxwell have also graduated.

Jasen Rose has not. He may play for either Syracuse, UConn, Wake Forest, or Wisconsin, among other NCAA FBS schools next year, but first, he will look to improve upon a remarkable 2014 campaign that saw him toss 47 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. That means he essentially threw five touchdowns for every one interception.

Mike Drury called for his quarterback to get louder in 2015. Upon my visit to Southington, it seems like Drury is getting the most out of his guy,

“He’s captain now, he’s been taking control of the team,” said wide-out Austin Morin. “It’s Jay’s team this year. He definitely got bigger and better. His throws are there and I haven’t seen him make any mistakes.”

It was clear upon my arrival that the lead vocalist of the Blue Knights football team was Rose. He was quick to inform teammates of their assignments before the execution of plays. Mike Drury and his offensive coordinator wore headsets to simulate play-calling, relied that information to Rose, and watched as he organized the huddle. The situation pushed me to approach Rose about his confident demeanor.

“Something that I had definitely needed to pick up this year was leadership,” offered Rose. “We are coming in with kind of a new team and not a lot of returning players so one thing that needed to be picked up was the vocals. I know we lost a lot, Jamele, Maxwell, Borawski, but we’ve got Austin returning.”

Morin caught 36 balls in 2014 and averaged 15.8 yards per reception, good for second on the team. He also picked up 5 touchdown receptions.

“It was a prolific receiving corps, but we have one of those guys back and Austin Morin is looking to have a huge year,” said Drury. “He’s tremendous out there.”

How huge of a season is Morin expecting to have?

“I’m trying to break records this year,” exclaimed Morin. “I’m trying to have the biggest season of my career. I’m trying to go out there and win every game and win a state championship. A ton of touchdowns, a ton of yards.”

One area from 2014 that the Blue Knights essentially keep intact is the run game. The passing attack accounted for 273 yards per game last year. You must be thinking to yourself…how many yards per game could the running backs have contributed? The answer…a lot: 179.5. Alessio Diana and Vance Upham put up eerily similar numbers in 2014.

Diana: 121 car, 958 yds, 11 TD
Upham: 149 car, 1059 yds, 11 TD
Yards per carry/game - Diana: 7.8/79   Upham: 7.1/88.2

“We strive to push each other to be our greatest,” stated Upham. “If one of us slacking is on something, the other pushes us to be the best we can. I say that I am more of the power back and he brings more of the speed, but we can bring both to the table.”

As for the defense, Drury’s band of Blue Knights return just two starters. You can learn a bit more about that side of the ball for Southington inside of the 2014 High School Football Training Camp Special that airs Friday, September 4 at 7 p.m. Follow the #TrainingCampTour as it happens on Twitter. Please check in to cptvsports.org nightly for other team training camp recaps.

Southington appears LIVE on CPTV Sports against Glastonbury, Friday October 2 at 6:30 p.m.