HENDERSON – It’s not a difficult concept for Cliffy Smith. Sure, he understands and hears about this and that for the team, but he actually went out and did something about it on the first blustery Friday night of the fall.
The senior, ordinarily Fairview’s starting middle linebacker, earned his first start at quarterback and adeptly helped the Knights engineer a decisive 34-0 road victory at Prairie View in Class 5A nonleague.
The way Smith, a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder, handled his business with a calm demeanor as if he and been there before, one would have thought he simply was asked to change numbers, not positions.
“I just really wanted to prepare in practice and (coach Tom McCartney) had a great plan,” Smith said after firing four touchdown passes. “I just wanted to do what I could for the team.”
And this was no lip service for Smith – he admitted to being nervous at the outset, but gained confidence as the game rolled on and the Knights rolled the Thunderhawks. In improving to 4-0, Fairview’s victory was complete over Prairie View, which is 1-3 and struggling offensively.
“We’re thrilled with the way we played,” McCartney said. “We’re excited about the defense. We lost a few possessions in the first half, but we played well. Hey, we’re thrilled to come here and play like this and our guys are excited.”
Junior running back, defensive lineman and battering ram Mariano Kemp concurred, especially about Smith stepping in at quarterback for regular starter Jake Willemsen, who missed the game, McCartney said, for cautionary reasons. He had an injury that probably welcomed the break.
” That’s awesome to know how we can do that and we have an injury and then have one more to step up at quarterback,” Kemp said.
Offensively, Fairview scored in every quarter. All told, Smith was 16-of-23 for 204 yards and scoring tosses to, in order, Connor Twister, David McWilliams, Quinn Sharp and Tommy Wakefield.
Entering the game, Willemsen had gone for 11 TD passes and 951 yards over the first three weeks.
But, hey, no problem. Fairview has shown signs of being Quarterback High and it had another entry on Friday.
So if Willemsen is ready for next week? Smith has zero issues. There are people to tackle at linebacker.
“Whatever the team needs,” he said.
Kemp, who bulldozed his way through many of the Thunderhawk defenders, scored the Knights’ first TD on a 7-yard run in the first quarter and registered 117 yards on 15 carries.
And on defense, the Knights stopped Prairie View three times on fourth down, made an interception and recovered a fumble.
As Fairview ran off the field, there was some giddy-up in its players steps as they approach midseason undefeated. It also was the Knights’ 30th victory over their past 32 games in the regular season.
“This is good,” Kemp said, “because our next games aren’t going to be easy.”
Next week, on Friday, Fairview will be meet Arapahoe at Littleton Public Schools Stadium before attempting to deal with the new big-school alignment. The Knights will be in the Mount Cameron League and open it in Week 6 with a toughie, at home at Recht Field against perennial power and five-time state champion Columbine.
Said McCartney: “We get better every day, every week and that’s always the goal of every team. We just have to keep working and getting better. So we take every game with tremendous respect for our opponent.”
Fairview 34, Prairie View 0
At Prairie View
Fairview 7 7 7 13 — 34
Fairview — Mariano Kemp 7 run (Tevey SchuettPelz-Rohl kick), 7:49.
Fairview — Connor Twister 6 pass from Cliffy Smith (SchuettPelz-Rohl kick), 1:56.
Fairview — David McWilliams 33 pass from Smith (SchuettPelz-Rohl kick), 5:03.
Fairview — Quinn Sharp 17 pass from Smith (run fail), 10:34. Fairview — Tommy Wakefield 7 pass from Smith (SchuettPelz-Rohl kick), 6:53.
RUSHING — Fairview: Kemp 15-117; Sharp 4-18; Smith 3-0.
PASSING — Fairview: Smith 16-24-0-204.
RECEIVING — Fairview: McWilliams 5-79; Twist 4-55; Wakefield 4-32; Sharp 3-38.