SOUTHINGTON — They’re big.
The sheer size of the Jesuits and the multiple capabilities of junior quarterback Colton Smith are the two factors that pop up most often when high school football talk centers on Fairfield Prep and its quest for the Class LL championship.
Size is not one of Southington’s attributes, so it’s a major point of contention in anticipation of the clash slated for Arute Field at Central Connecticut State University Saturday evening. Kickoff is slated for 6:05 p.m., but a storm is forecast for that time period and the CIAC was weighing alternatives Wednesday.
Those forecasting the game may consider size a determining factor, but not the Blue Knights. They’re convinced that the size of the heart outweighs that of the body.
“Outside people are going to say that it probably would, but knowing my teammates, I know that it’s not a factor for them,” said Zach Maxwell, an undersized (6-2, 210) but explosive defensive end.
Maxwell, a defending State Open wrestling champion in the 195-pound weight class, cites other factors that have stirred the ingredients of Southington’s 11-1 season.
“Our team has so much heart despite our size and we’re not going to let size limit us,” he said. “On offense, it’s definitely speed, but on defense it’s definitely the heart and desire to get 11 hats to the ball because when you’re small you have to make up for the size, and our relentless pursuit is what makes our defense so special.”
Southington coach Mike Drury and his staff focused on the intangibles that tend to offset such an imbalance.
“They’re big up front. We’re not big up front in terms of our defense against their offensive line, but what we are is very fast and strong, and the kids play with great technique and leverage,” Southington coach Mike Drury said.
The readings on the Fairfield Prep weight charts aren’t for the faint of heart:
*Anthony Palazzolo weighs 302 pounds and stands 6-foot-5.
*Fordham-bound Tony Fox is 6-2, 254.
*Michael Ruther may qualify for his own area code at 6-7, 286.
Other prominent behemoths are Thomas Cirillo (6-foot, 252), Connor Roche (6-2, 252), Stephen Kornutik (6-foot, 272). Perhaps the most notable is running back Nick Crowle (6-3, 246), who will be a Yale classmate of Southington quarterback Steve Barmore.
“We’ve thought all along that we should be able to move the ball and be effective up front,” Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea said.
“The challenge is when you meet a real fast team like Southington.
“We’ve been a good second-half team because we have been able to wear people down. We’ve made a mistake a few times like getting in a hole early in games and we’ve got to avoid that if we can.”
Barmore, a good-sized quarterback at 6-2, 210, has had sporadic duty in the defensive backfield, so he can speak from both sides of the football.
“They’re big. It’s going to be a challenge for us, but I think we’ll rise above it and if we play the way I know we can play, I’m confident,” Barmore said.
“We’ve played teams bigger than us all year,” he added. “Glastonbury was big. NFA was huge up front and our linemen get great leverage because they’re not as big as other teams and they’re strong. We work very hard in the offseason to make sure that we’re all strong, so size to an extent, it doesn’t matter as much as you think it would because it doesn’t really seem to affect our guys.”
The Southington offensive line doesn’t have quite the girth the Jesuits present. Center Sal Conti is 6-1, 215. Jon Rauch (6-3, 250) is the biggest of the three guards. Joe D’Agostino is 5-11, 240 and Noah MacDonald is 6-foot, 250.
The tackles are Carlos Gil (5-10, 235) and Jimmy Nardi (5-11, 225).
“We’ve been out-sized all year,” Nardi said. “It comes down to who’s going to get low, who’s going to want it more. We’ll just do what we do.”