Fairfield Prep teammates from Newtown play for title, aim to bring some happiness

(Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register) Stephen Walsh, left, and Colton Smith of Fairfield Prep, both of Newtown at the CIAC Football Finals Luncheon at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville December 11, 2013.

(Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register)
Stephen Walsh, left, and Colton Smith of Fairfield Prep, both of Newtown at the CIAC Football Finals Luncheon at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville December 11, 2013.

(Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register) Colton Smith of Fairfield Prep scores a second quarter touchdown against West Haven High School during the CIAC Class LL Football semifinal game  Saturday December 7, 2013 at Trumbull High School's  McDougall Stadium in Trumbull, Conn.

(Peter Hvizdak — New Haven Register)
Colton Smith of Fairfield Prep scores a second quarter touchdown against West Haven High School during the CIAC Class LL Football semifinal game Saturday December 7, 2013 at Trumbull High School’s McDougall Stadium in Trumbull, Conn.

Colton Smith pushed up the cuff of his dress shirt. Wrapped around his right wrist are two bands; one pink and one green. The green one has a story that the Fairfield Prep starting quarterback and his teammates from Newtown hold close.

“It says what date and it says, ‘We are Newtown,’” Smith explained Wednesday at the CIAC football state championship luncheon in Plantsville. “Me and Connor (Roche) both wear wristbands for Newtown every day. Never take it off.”

Smith and Fairfield Prep (11-2) will play for the Class LL state championship Saturday at Central Connecticut State University’s Arute Field against Southington (11-1) at 1:35 p.m. It is the first anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Smith, Roche, Stephen Walsh and Geoff Santore are the four Newtown residents on the Jesuits’ roster.

“It’s the championship and probably one of the biggest games I’ll ever play in,” said Walsh, a senior safety. “But in the end, it’s just a game. Life is so much bigger than just a game; it kind of keeps it in perspective.”

Saturday no doubt will be filled with the full spectrum of emotion. Smith and his two younger sisters attended Sandy Hook. Walsh said his aunt worked there.

“Well, it was emotional,” Smith said. “But we knew it would definitely strengthen us. And we just honor them every game we play.”

[CLASS LL Championship Preview Capsule: Fairfield Prep vs. Southington]

Smith and his teammates have helped turn the Fairfield Prep program around. When Walsh was a freshman, Prep won just three games. Now the Jesuits are riding a seven-game winning streak into the state championship game.

“It’s kind of a dream,” Walsh said, “especially as a senior. I would like to go out with a (win).”

Smith, who has rushed for 27 touchdowns and thrown for nine, said he’s learned to appreciate the game more this season. Going back to the wristband: it’s a simple but strong reminder to Smith to make the most of every play, every down and everything in life.

“You’ve got to love everything you have,” Smith said. “(I) definitely play with more heart and more desire.”

Said Prep coach Tom Shea: “I can’t identify what strength or inspiration they draw from, but I can tell you they have done a tremendous job.”

The Jesuits’ journey to the state final potentially could have culminated with a showdown with Newtown. The teams were on opposite sides of the Class LL bracket, but No. 1 seed Newtown lost 35-33 in the quarterfinals to Ridgefield, its first loss after going 12-0 this season.

“I started playing in the eighth grade and played with a lot of those guys who just lost,” Walsh said. “All of them are good players. I think it would have been fun.”

Smith and Roche, both juniors, grew up playing together in the Newtown youth football system. At last Saturday’s semifinal against West Haven, there was a section from Newtown cheering on Prep.

Smith and Walsh said their approach to Saturday’s game won’t be any different. It will be a passion-filled day that they know they are ready for.

“We want to bring (Newtown) something to look forward to, to be happy about,” Smith said. “Because that’s what everybody is looking for at these times.”

Comments

  1. Go SCC! says

    I’m an SCC fan, but it’s too bad these talented players left their home town to go to a private school. They could have helped their home town high school win a state championship.

  2. SCC fan says

    I don’t think these two players would get Newtown over the hump for a state title. You need a surrounding cast. Newtown is good, but good in the SWC is a lot different than good in the scc or fciac. Most of Newtown’s players wouldn’t start on Prep, Staples, Xavier, etc. Nice article and wish these kids the best of luck tomorrow

  3. DT16 says

    You have to remember that these kids didnt leave their hometown strictly to play football at Prep. Remember they were terrible before they got there. They chose Prep for its academics. Football is just a bonus.

    • Will Plettier says

      Hahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Yeah, you’re right. Nobody from Newtown High School ever got into a good college and every Prep kid comes out of there a bona fide genius. Get off it. Good students make the most of their situation. Mediocre students get lost in the sauce no matter where they are. Having the Jesuit army behind you can get you into Loyola or Fordham or maybe even Georgetown if you’re a REALLY good student. The QB chose Prep because he wanted to start at QB for more than one year. No crime in that. Stop making Prep out to be Choate or Hotchkiss, because it ISN’T.

      • potato head says

        Will-Good point. Very sophisticated view of life mate.Funny that the prep coach apparently went to Harvard and the fullback is going to Yale. But what do i know. Just what i read in the papers.Anyway, I do agree that it is unfair for all these catholic schools, particularly prep, to take kids from all these different towns. So there should be a separate catholic league. By the same token, and i am sure you agree Will that it is extremely unfair for all these rich public schools to play in the same leagues as the poor underfunded public schools. So, no doubt you also agree that we should also either have separate public school leagues for the rich public schools, on the one hand, and the poor public schools, on the other OR, better yet, all the revenues from local property taxes in conn that fund town high schools (that parents who send their kids to catholic schools, as well as parents who send their kids to the local school, pay) should all go to the state and be distributed evenly among the poor towns and the rich towns for their public schools .. and the coaches from Harding should have computers like the coaches from new canaan. …and the youth programs in bridgeport should get equal funding compared to the towns in fairfield county and…HEY HEY wait a minute hold on there..I dont like where this is discussion is going and i may have gotten a bit ahead of myself…wo wo..and west haven should not be allowed to play in a league with teams that do not have the same talent pool and…ah..and..anyway you with me on this one Will?

        • potato head says

          so Will my points in case they are not clear:
          -fairly negative post, sir, concerning kids you may not even know.
          -kids go to a catholic school for alot of reasons..who knows maybe even because they are catholic And who knows maybe you have now insulted their parents, who will no doubt be reading your post. Do you want to get rid of these schools?
          -alot of these kids go to jesuit or catholic universities, which are good schools and where they are proud to go. You have just insulted all of them who will read this post. Some go to the ivy league. And it is unlikely to say the least I would have done so if i had gone to my public high school, Harding, rather than prep.
          -of course prep is not Choate or hotchkiss. Prep is a jesuit, catholic all boys high school and costs US16k ..the other catholic high schools like st joes and probably xavier etc cost US13k. alot of money for alot of people. Choate and Hotchiss are private secular schools that cost US50k.
          -do the catholic schools have an advantage because kids come from different towns. Yes in a sense they do. Do the public schools from affluent towns-something about your tone Will indicates to me you are from an affluent town..dont know what- have advantages? hmmm…in general?..compared to the poor public schools? hmmm…? funding, youth programs? and I dare say in fact compared to the catholic schools? I think they have massive advantages compared to both. Not sure if I hailed from an affluent town in connecticut, i would want to get into that debate….

        • FP82 says

          Hey Potato Head. Nobody is TAKING these kids from their local high schools. The CHOOSE to attend private schools for whatever reason.

      • FP82 says

        I am guessing Will’s application to Prep was not accepted. His post is terribly uninformed. Nobody implied that kids from Newtown High don;t get into great colleges. Prep simply offers a different high school experience that some CHOOSE to have. That is all. Why the venom Will?

  4. Potato Head says

    FP82-Apologies. I agree with you. Kids choose to go to the catholci schools for a variety of good reasons. Will’s vitriolic comment induced a bit of sacrasm on my part. And of course the kids who go to catholic schools will come from towns in conn. Where are they supposed to come from? Outer space?D think this is a good thing for schools and sports in general in conn. I also find the discussion about whether the catholic schools have an advantage over public schools, particularly in Fairfiled county, pretty amusing. These public schools, particularly the wealthy ones, have the advantage in fact. They cant afford coaches, equipment and ice time in ridgefield and new canaan?? Unfair these schools have to play hockey with NDHW and prep. And dont get me started on swimming where greenwich has 100 country clubs that function like a professional minor league. And basketball, unfair for Hillhouse and Central to play with Trinity and prep because of course Hillhouse and Central dont have much of a talent pool to draw on.And poor staples in lacrosse has to play with prep, and not jsut the public schools. Westport has among the highest per public student spending in the country and great youth programs and coaches..well you get my drift.

Leave a Reply