FOOTBALL: Blue Knights stake their initial college claim — Lafferty to New Haven, Andrews to Marist

FOOTBALL: Blue Knights stake their initial college claim — Lafferty to New Haven, Andrews to Marist

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SOUTHINGTON — Southington football churns out several college football players each year and the Class of 2021 will be no exception.

The first two of many expected Blue Knight commits are quarterback Brady Lafferty and offensive lineman Ryan Andrews. 

Lafferty will play at Division II New Haven and Andrews will suit up with Division I Marist.

“Both Brady and Ryan have worked hard for this moment,” Southington head coach Mike Drury said Thursday. “They put in the extra time in the offseason and are ready to compete for starting positions at the next level.

“We’re excited. We will have several guys that will play at the next level..”

Andrews is the latest Blue Knight to sign on with Drury’s alma mater in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. At Marist, Andrews will join former Blue Knights Sam Thomson, a red-shirt sophomore cornerback, and Will Downes, a red-shirt freshman wide receiver. Sam Thomson’s older brother Matt, a linebacker, graduated from Marist last month.

“It feels really cool to have the opportunity to go there,” Andrews said. “So many people from Southington have gone there and I feel that I’m carrying on another tradition. I carried on one tradition by playing at Southington and being a captain. Now I’m continuing the tradition by going on to Marist. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that crowd.”

Andrews anchored the Southington line for the last two years. He started at left tackle as a junior in 2019, when the Blue Knights reached the Class LL semifinals, and for the three games Southington played in the Independent High School Football League this past fall after the CIAC cancelled the 2020 season.

While primarily a left tackle, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Andrews has experience at other positions on the offensive line. Drury said Andrews brought a toughness to the team.

“We know how physical he can be. He’s also a very coachable young man who is willing to play many different positions,” Drury said. “He has the ability to move guys off the point off attack and set a new line of scrimmage. He really wants to do well. Even if he makes a mistake, he will correct it and fix it. The next time he won’t make the same mistake.”

Andrews is the son of Ron and Karianne. He has a younger brother, 11-year-old Nick. He will study business at Marist.

“I loved playing for Coach Drury and the entire coaching staff,” Andrews said. “The culture at Southington is a brotherhood. I can’t describe it any other way. I loved playing here.”

Both Andrews and Lafferty started by playing youth football in Bristol. Andrews moved to Southington before seventh grade, Lafferty before eighth grade. 

Lafferty has been a quarterback since his start in tackle football in elementary school.

“Quarterback has always been the position for me,” he said. “I love it; I always have. I like making decisions and having the ball in my hands.

“It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to play at the next level,” Lafferty added, looking ahead to his days in New Haven. “It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m happy to get to work.””

Lafferty, who stands 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, describes himself as a pocket passer. While he can make plays with his legs, he’s most comfortable in the pocket making reads and making throws.

In 2019, Lafferty completed 170 of 291 passes for 2,083 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was MVP of that year’s epic Apple Classic, when Southington stopped Cheshire on a two-point try in double-overtime to win 21-20. Lafferty was 23-of-40 for 241 yards that day. 

“Brady came through a highly contested quarterback battle throughout his time here,” Drury said. “He had to earn it. Nothing was given to him. It was a good learning experience for him. It made him work even harder. Having that experience fighting for his position will make him more prepared for the next level.”

“He can take hard coaching and can take criticism, which comes with playing that position,” Drury added. “But he brings a great fire and passion and inspires the players around him. He’s tough, too. He can stick in there and deliver a ball down field and not focus on the rush. He’s made some of his best throws under pressure.”

Lafferty is the son of Greg and Beth. He has an older brother Jake. At New Haven, Lafferty will study sports management.

He said the recruiting process was unique and more challenging due to the COVID-19 restrictions with limited visits and no overnight campus stays.

“I’m happy to end up at a great school with a great program,” Lafferty said. 

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