Dynamic Smith leads Prep into Class LL semifinals vs. West Haven

Colton-Smith-Prep

Fairfield Prep’s Colton Smith runs for an 80-yard touchdown vs. Shelton. The junior has taken the SCC and Class LL playoffs by storm. (Animation by Sean Patrick Bowley)

Colton Smith (2) and the Jesuits come in as a strong No. 7 seed out of the SCC. They have a tough road beginning with Jalen Ollie and 10-1 Glastonbury on the road. Photo John Vanacore — for the Register

Colton Smith (2) and the Jesuits come in as a strong No. 7 seed out of the SCC. They have a tough road beginning with Jalen Ollie and 10-1 Glastonbury on the road. Photo John Vanacore — for the Register

FAIRFIELD >> Fairfield Prep junior quarterback Colton Smith remembers what it was like before coming to Fairfield Prep. He remembers the conversations he had with head coach Tom Shea a few years back. He remembers the instant attraction to the school.

For the former Newtown High kid, he needed a change and new environment; Prep was the answer.

“It wasn’t just football,” said Smith, who transferred to Prep after his freshman year at Newtown.

“It was academics. I knew I wanted to challenge myself. And when I shadowed here I loved it. I loved the brotherhood.”

Prep was the right fit for him as he’s emerged as one of the state’s best dual-threat quarterback’s and been a key piece to Prep’s success this season.

The No. 7 Jesuits (10-2) are playing in the Class LL state semifinals on Saturday at Trumbull at 2 p.m. against No. 6 West Haven (10-2) in a rematch of Southern Connecticut Conference foes that last met on Thanksgiving.

Prep is seeking its first state title since 1988. They are just one game away from getting back to the championship.

“Coach (Shea) told me when I shadowed and when I talked, that their goal was to bring this program back. And I believe that’s what we did,” Smith said.

It’s been a steady uphill climb since Shea took over the program in 2010. A year prior the team went 0-10. Prep won three games in Shea’s first year, five in his second and barely missed out on the playoffs last season with a 6-4 record.

“It takes time,” Shea said. “Now we have the players. We figured this would probably be the timetable. We’ve made great strides and hopefully we can finish this year.”

For the veterans on the team, getting to the playoffs has been a long time coming. Shea credits a lot of the success this season to their dedication.

“Yeah, it was a long process,” senior and third year varsity player Nick Crowle said. “When we were sophomores and juniors it was always something we talked about getting back to the playoff that was always the goal, but I don’t know if anyone believed it. But once we started getting on a roll this year, especially after the Xavier win, we looked at ourselves and said, ‘We can actually do this.’”

Prep's Colton Smith runs down field in Tuesday's Class LL state quarterfinal game against Glastonbury.

Prep’s Colton Smith runs down field in Tuesday’s Class LL state quarterfinal game against Glastonbury.

For the 6-foot-1 Smith, he experienced his share of waiting, too. Last season he played starting safety while Strecker Backe was the signal caller.

“It was tough, but I knew I could help the team in other ways,” Smith said.

Smith bought into the team philosophy and played where the Jesuits needed him at the time.

“He was tremendous,” said Shea of Smith at safety. “(He) just wasn’t quite ready to take the quarterback role last year.”

It was well worth the wait for Smith to return to the position he’s been at since he first started playing the game in grade school. Smith has been the model of a dual-threat quarterback this year. He’s thrown for 1,513 yards and nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s run for 1,649 yards and 25 scores.

“He worked real hard in the offseason getting himself physically ready,” Shea said. “He’s as tough as nails and strong. He’s a real student of the game; he’s so much wiser now. That’s why he’s developed into a complete player, he works very hard at it and he’s very gifted; nice combination.”

As big of a game Saturday is for Prep, Smith and the Jesuits will be ready against a dynamic West Haven team averaging 340.1 yards on the ground.

Despite a long absence from the playoffs (last appearance was 2006) the Jesuits have risen to the occasion when the moments have presented themselves. After falling to Daniel Hand back in October, the Jesuits haven’t lost. They enter Saturday on a six-game winning streak. That includes a huge 46-27 win over Xavier that was followed by a come-from-behind 29-20 victory over West Haven on Thanksgiving to secure a playoff spot.

In the last three games for Prep, Smith has rushed for 851 yards, including a momentum-shifting 77-yard TD against No. 2 Glastonbury in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal 33-23 victory.

Smith feels and looks comfortable making those type of plays for his team. But the first-year starter knows the team is full of play makers.

“I do believe that,” said Smith of being the guy to make a big play. “But I also believe that Nick Crowle can do it, John DelliSanti and all of our receivers can do it, but it all starts with our line. They got to give me time, they got to block, without them we’re nothing.”

Comments

  1. Will Plettier says

    He chose to go to Prep “because he wanted to challenge himself academically”. PLEASE. Stop it. The kid couldn’t take AP courses in his home town and play with the guys he grew up with? That’s not a “brotherhood” but Prep is? Fact: his over-the-top father and the Newtown coach didn’t get along and he didn’t want to wait until his senior year to start at QB. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t couch it like public high school wasn’t challenging enough academically. That’s total BS.

  2. Fciac jr says

    From what it sounds like, there were also a lot of parents yelling at the newtown coach blaming him for the play calling and loss. I can’t imagine the coach gets along with those morons either. Can’t say I blame Smith as he is in the title game as the QB while newtown is home after the first round again.

    • Will Plettier says

      This isn’t about the Newtown parents (who have done enough to embarrass themselves and their kids over the years). And I’m not blaming the kid or his farther for making a decision that impacted his football career. Just don’t say that the reason you switched schools was because you wanted to be academically challenged or because there was a better “brotherhood” at a place you’d never been before than the place where you grew up and played with all your friends. It was a football decision based upon when he would be the starting QB, pure and simple. Admit it.

  3. Sitting Home for the Weekend says

    Will, you have some serious issues if this is bothering you! This is a kid who was being interviewed and said the right things for his current team! And now it bothers one Newtown parent (I am assuming you are from Newtown since you seem to have inside information) because he isn’t sitting at home with the rest of Newtown football? Get over it as the kid and his family made a great decision and it is paying off.

    If the brotherhood comment was bothering his friends from Newtown, it fooled me watching more than a dozen of the Newtown football players cheer him on last Saturday. Kids will be just fine, just leave the crazed parents out of the equation.

Leave a Reply