SOUTHINGTON — It was the worst possible start for quarterback Jacob Drena and the Southington Blue Knights on Friday night.
On his first passing attempt as Southington’s starting quarterback, on the very first snap from scrimmage, the senior threw an interception.
To add salt to the wound, Glastonbury scored off the turnover, putting Southington in an early 7-0 hole.
“He kind got off his read for a second,” head coach Mike Drury recalled.
Drena was upset, but put it behind him quickly. Very, very quickly.
On Southington’s next possession, Drena connected with wide receiver Jacob Flynn for a 23-yard catch, then threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Flynn.
From there Drena would not look back as he went on to complete 16 of 24 his passes for 356 yards and five touchdowns to lead Southington to it’s 41-7 season-opening win at Fonana Field. His only interception would be the one on the first play.
Drena, stepping in for graduated two-year starter Will Barmore, stayed cool in the pocket. He showed poise when the pressure closed in and was productive when called upon.
Drury was impressed with how his quarterback responded.
“I thought he did a great job of burying it. You have to bury it and he does a better job of that than me,” the head coach said. “He ran our offense with efficiency. Did a really solid job as his first varsity start.”
Helping Drena along the way were senior receivers Flynn and Will Downes. Flynn collected Drena’s first three touchdown passes and finished with 170 yards on five receptions. Downes caught Drena’s two TD tosses after halftime and compiled 136 yards and four catches.
Drena exploited Flynn’s matchup most the game. They connected on some big plays and had good chemistry.
The QB also got help on the ground from Dillon Kohl, who racked up 60 rushing yards and scored the night’s final touchdown.
“I started off a little rocky, throwing the pick first play, but all the guys bounced back because we had faith in each other,” Drena said. “Then the receivers, O-line, running backs did good and the defense got the ball back. They knew I was going to get the job done.”
Drena praised Drury’s work and the trust he has in his teammates for helping him get back on track so fast.
“Coach has really been working with me to get my head straight,” he said. “It was the first play of the game, but I knew I had four more quarters to go. I know what my guys can do. I know what I can do, so it didn’t change much for me.”
Drena also spoke of the connection he has with his receivers and how that helps the offense.
“These guys are amazing,” he said. “ I’ve been playing with them since we were 8-years-old. It’s an awesome feeling. We had first-game jitters, but as the guys get going the confidence goes up and more points go up on the scoreboard.”
Drury, Drena and the Blue Knights will look to keep the momentum going next Friday when they travel to Simsbury for a 7 p.m. CCC Division I-West game.