Prep regains winning edge

Colton Smith eluded the gridiron grasp of Newtown High’s successful football coach Steve George and came down the road a few miles to Fairfield Prep.
In doing so, the junior quarterback has become one of the leaders on this year’s Jesuit team, which took on Southern Connecticut Conference opponent Cheshire High on Friday night at Alumni Field on the campus of Fairfield University.
A deft option quarterback, Smith engineered his team to a 26-0 win over the Rams, which improved the Jesuits’ record to 5-2 and keeps them in the hunt for a spot in the state playoffs among Class LL teams.
Prep is currently ranked 12th (eight make the playoffs) and the Jesuits have remaining games with Amity Regional (home), Hamden (road), Xavier of Middletown (ranked seventh) and West Haven (ranked second) over the next four weeks.
Prep will play Xavier and West Haven (on Thanksgiving Day morning) on its home field.
Smith threw for 142 yards (8-of-11) and ran for another 122 yards on 15 carries, while scoring three touchdowns in what turned to be a dominating win.
“He’s a complete quarterback,” said Prep head coach Tom Shea. “Colton is a gifted athlete who has speed and a great arm.
“What I really like about him is he’s a student of the game. He likes to watch and study film. He knows ahead of time what opposing teams’ defense are going to try and do against him.”
Prep did not score the first time it had the ball, even though the Jesuits took the opening kickoff and marched down to the Cheshire 16 before running out of downs.
During the drive, Smith completed a 17-yard pass to Brendan Beiser and his 33-yard run off the option brought the ball from his teams’ 44 down to the Cheshire 23.
Once the Jesuits got the ball back following a 28-yard punt by the Rams’ Gabe Vega, Smith stepped in and hit Beiser again for another 17-yard completion, taking the ball to the Cheshire 37.
After two running back Nick Crowle, Smith went to the air again.
His third completion of 17 yards, this time to tight end Ryan Logan, gave Prep a first down (the Jesuits had 17 for the game) on the Rams’ 16.
Five running plays later, Smith went in from a yard out and Prep had a lead that it never lost.
Up 6-0 with 5:26 left in the second quarter, Smith ran the ideal option play.
He put Crowle in motion going left, saw an opening to his right and eventually scampered 55 yards for a score and a 12-0 lead.
Prep scored two more times in the third quarter before Shea began pulling his starters out.
Smith and Crowle (69 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown) ran well behind Prep’s huge front line of center Brendan Sullivan (224 pounds) who replaced Peter Kokias early on; tackles Tony Fox (254) and Anthony Palazolla (302) and guards Michael Ruther (286) and Connor Roche (252).
“We had to come out tonight and show what we have,” Smith said.
“We had a really tough loss last week to Hand (35-27).
But we were able to put together four good practices this week and we were able to focus on what we needed to do.”
Prep finished the night with 370 offensive yards while yielding only 159.
That defense held Cheshire’s tandem of backs – Jack Cunningham and Andrew Yamin – to 124 yards combined.
“They’re a big, tough football team,” said Cheshire coach Don Drust. “I thought we played hard in the first half and had some chances. We fought. We did some good things.”
The loss left Cheshire with a 3-4 record going into its game against Notre Dame of West Haven.
Meanwhile Prep will be home with Amity.
“What we’ve got to do is win each week,” Shea said. “If you can’t win right now, and that’s why tonight’s game was so important, it doesn’t really matter what you do in that next game.”
“I’m really happy about what we did against Cheshire. We put the loss to Hand behind us and went right to work from our first practice on.
“We’re learning how to put disappointment in the rear-view mirror.”

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