FOOTBALL: Drury joins coaching elite with milestone win as Southington beats Hall

SOUTHINGTON — No. 100 is in the Southington High School archives.

Mike Drury reached the century mark Friday night, coaching Southington to a 49-21 milestone victory over Hall in the CCC Tier I football matchup at Fontana Field.

He also has junior connection that may lead him to several more wins.

Junior quarterback C.J. DiBenedetto threw five touchdown passes — four to fellow junior wideout Rashard Williams — as the Blue Knights improved to 2-0.

Williams electrified the home crowd with three second-half touchdown catches of 39, 16 and 47 yards. Williams finished with six catches for 145 yards.

DiBenedetto was 16-of-21 for 269 yards. He also connected with John Flynn for a touchdown in the first half.

Lincoln Cardillo got the SHS offense going with two first-half touchdowns. The senior finished with 228 yards on 24 carries.

Hall, which beat SHS last year 27-19, fell to 0-2 on the season.

The Blue Knights took a 35-14 lead on Williams’ first touchdown of the game with 8:17 left in the second quarter.

After Hall cut the Blue Knights’ lead to 35-21 with 1:59 to play in the third quarter, Williams and DiBenedetto hooked up for two four-quarter scores to refortify the advantage.

The Blue Knights went up 42-21 on a 16-yard Williams score from DiBenedetto and then 49-21 with 8:54 to play on Williams’ fourth TD of the game from 47 yards out.

Drury is now 100-16 at the helm of the Blue Knights. In his 11th season, Drury has the state’s fourth highest all-time football coaching winning percentage at .862. Two Ansonia coaches, the current Tom Brockett and the late Jack Hunt, and Southington’s skipper in the 1960s, Joe Orsene (50-4-1), are ahead of Drury.

Drury won back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014 and has missed the CIAC playoffs just twice — in his first season of 2011 and again in 2017. He’s averaged nine wins a season.

He trails only three former SHS coaches in total wins. Joe Fontana, for whom the high school stadium is named, leads the way with 135 victories in 23 seasons. 

Drury is also behind current Weaver head coach Jude Kelly’s 115 wins, while Dom D’Angelo owns 113 career wins.

On Friday, the Blue Knights led 29-14 at halftime on pair of touchdown runs by Cardillo and two scoring tosses by C.J. DiBenedetto.

Cardillo had 167 yards rushing in the first half, while DeBenedetto completed 7 of 9 passes for 100 yards.

Hall, however, wouldn’t go away, matching Southington’s scores with touchdowns of its own in the second quarter.

The Titans got their offense going behind quarterback Bode Smith, who threw a pair of TDs in the second quarter to keep the Titans close.

Cardillo got the Blue Knights going with an electrifying 85-yard touchdown run on SHS’s first play of its second possession. Cardillo scored again with 7:58 to play in the half to give SHS a 22-0 lead.

In between the Cardillo TD runs, the Blue Knights scored on fourth down from the 20 on a DiBenedetto pass to Williams with nine seconds into the first quarter.

Hall finally got the board to cut Southington’s lead to 22-7 with 4:09 left in the half on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Angelo Culmo.

But the Blue Knights recovered an ensuing onside kick at the 45-yard line to set up a quick response.

DiBenedetto marched the Blue Knights down the field, connecting with Flynn for a 6-yard score with 1:40 left in the half. The drive was highlighted by a 32-yard run by Cardillo to the Titans’ 23.


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