Unfinished business: Fisher, Fairfield look to make its mark in 2023

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

FAIRFIELD — Talon Fisher said there’s no looking back now. The Fairfield High School senior is zoned in with the rest of his teammates.

“It feels like you can’t fail,” said Fisher, who will lead the Indians’ offense at quarterback for a fourth straight season. “There’s nowhere to go from here when you’re a senior. You don’t have another year. I can’t say that I’ll have something to prove next year.”

While Fisher is headed to the Naval Academy to continue his career, he said there’s unfinished business for Fairfield in 2023.

The Indians reeled off five straight wins to start the 2022 season and were ranked as high as eighth in the Division I state poll. They finished 7-4 overall and 6-3 in the Greater Miami Conference before falling to St. Xavier in the first round of the playoffs.

“I want to be able to produce and say that I gave it my all,” Fisher said.

The shifty and alert quarterback has grown to perfect his style of play, according to 13th-year coach Jason Krause. And that’s given the Indians an opportunity to expand their offensive playbook.

“His growth and his maturity from the time he was a freshman is tremendous in all three phases,” Krause said of Fisher. “Just his physical ability — his understanding of the game and becoming a passer. He’s throwing it much better. He understands it. He’s becoming a true quarterback. He’s bigger and faster and stronger. He just understands what we’re doing offensively. He’s a tremendous leader off the field. He leads by example, but he is also vocal. He’s got it to back it up with the numbers he’s put up in this program — being a four-year starter. It’s really unheard of in our conference. You don’t see that very often. He’s got the goods, and our kids know that. They know QB1 brings it every day.”

Fisher threw for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns, and he rushed for a GMC-best 1,566 yards and 18 scores as a junior.

“You’re going to see a little bit of swag from us,” Fisher said. “Maybe a little something different — some tweaks in our offense.”

Players to watch

Krause said the one thing that keeps him energized each season is continually being able to coach a resurgence of fresh talent.

“It’s the new personnel, new schemes — the new things that these kids can do that the guys before them couldn’t do,” he said. “That’s what is always exciting.”

Leading the charge defensively is senior linebacker Jordan Baker, who had a team-best 62 tackles in 2022.

“We’re energetic as a young team coming in,” Baker said. “We’ve got some big-play seniors and some big-play juniors up and coming. We’ve got a lot of new pieces — a lot of people stepping up with leadership on both sides of the ball.

“We’re going to leave a big mark,” Baker added. “I feel like coming into this season we’re coming in underrated. We’ve got a lot of competition, but I feel like we can compete as always, like we’ve been doing. I think we’re going to leave a bigger fingerprint. We’re just looking forward to this year — ready to work.”

Krause said team speed stands out around the perimeter on both sides of the ball, however it’s the offensive line that leaves a question mark.

“We graduated four off the line,” Krause said. “But this group of guys has gelled, and they’re playing really well together. Up front, defensively, we’re going to try and figure some things out.”

Senior offensive lineman Rylan Creutzinger is the veteran up front and received second team All-GMC honors as a junior.

Junior Aiden McGuire will man the kicking duties again after booting 41 of 43 extra points and going 5 for 5 on field goals last season.

Seniors Braeden Shaklin (free safety) and Dorian Soriano (linebacker) will be defensive leaders after seeing plenty of playing time a year ago.

Senior running back and safety Juesters Fataki has increased his quickness and agility since 2022, according to Krause, and junior wide receiver Noah King will look to have a standout season.

Juniors Derion Prophett (SB/WR), Tyler George (WR), A’Shion Ruff (WR/RB) and Mason Gatto (LB) are other players to keep an eye on.

“The group is really good,” Krause said. “I think you’re going to see some good talent to the perimeter and the backend offensively and defensively. I think we’re going to surprise some people.”

Conference parity

Krause said the GMC is the most competitive he’s seen as he enters his 16th season coaching in the conference.

“There’s a lot more parity in our conference,” said Krause, who coached at Middletown for three seasons before coming to Fairfield. “There were times in the conference that there was a top half and a bottom half. I don’t see that right now.

“You always have to show up and play. The coaches are so darn good in our conference. The preparation they get their kids in line for, you just have to show up and play your best every Friday night no matter who it is. But usually, it washes itself out. The last year, and going into this year, I feel like there won’t be a discrepancy between one and 10. There’s going to be a lot more teams in the mix, and I think games are going to be closer.”

In the know

The Indians open the season at Wayne on Aug. 18. ... Krause is 71-57 in 12 seasons as Fairfield’s head coach and has led the program to nine playoff appearances, including eight straight.

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