High School Football

Squalicum RB Triston Smith speaks with actions, not words, on field

Squalicum’s Triston Smith returns an interception for a touchdown during a victory over Marysville-Pilchuck Sept. 16, at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.
Squalicum’s Triston Smith returns an interception for a touchdown during a victory over Marysville-Pilchuck Sept. 16, at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

Walking off the field at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville last weekend, Squalicum football coach Nick Lucey knew Triston Smith had played a role in the Storm’s 56-0 victory over Marysville-Getchell. He just didn’t grasp how big a game the junior running back actually had.

“It was funny. I didn’t even realize he scored five times and had that many yards,” Lucey said of Smith’s 277 yards of total offense. “It seems like if we give him the ball enough, he’s going to break one or two.

“Going into the game, we had a plan. We wanted to get him the ball, but we weren’t especially focused on giving it to him a lot. … It was just part of what we wanted to do, and before you know it, he had a monster game for us.”

Even Smith said he was a little surprised by the 250 yards and four TDs he piled up on just 13 carries, plus the 27-yard touchdown reception he added.

“When I’m out there, nothing like that is on my mind,” Smith said. “I’m just focused on the next play. At the end of the day, I look up at the scoreboard, and hopefully I like what I see.”

In a day when many players attempt to draw attention to themselves with dancing and gesturing or getting in the face of an opponent, Smith is all business, deflecting attention for any big games he may have to his offensive line – “guys I trust with my life.”

The 5-foot-8, 170-pounder has the speed and abilities to be a star, but he prefers to quietly go about his business of trying to help the Storm win.

The second-ranked Storm (7-0, 4-0) will need his help Saturday, Oct. 22, as they host fourth-ranked Ferndale (7-0, 4-0) in a 7 p.m. game at Civic Stadium. The winner will claim the 3A Wesco North Division title and the Wesco’s No. 2 seed to the Week 10 quad-district playoffs.

“He’s a real quiet kid on the field,” Lucey said of Smith. “He’s so focused on doing his job. It’s like he’s coming to work and brings a great attitude; he doesn’t complain about anything.”

Now don’t get the wrong impression about Smith – he’s not afraid to speak up.

Off the field, he’s got an energetic, intelligent, joyful personality that comes out even in a short conversation.

But when he’s on the field, he’s focused. He’s got a job to do and a family of “brothers” depending on him, and he takes that very seriously.

It’s a job he’s loved since his mother first introduced him to the game when he was 10 years old. He said he immediately realized, “this is awesome – I loved going out and getting dirty.”

Turns out, Smith was pretty good at the game, too.

“He’s got really good feet and quickness,” Lucey said. “He makes all those subtle little things happen. He’s worked hard and put weight on his frame. He’s really taken running the football as a craft. A lot of young guys take the ball and just bounce it outside when they don’t see anything. But he’s patient and he understands to run the ball you need to be vertical, make one cut and be vertical again.”

That approach has served Smith and the Storm well.

He rushed for 463 yards and nine TDs as a sophomore. He’s already nearly doubled both those numbers this year and has surpassed 120 yards rushing four times in the first seven weeks.

But Smith knows he doesn’t need to have a big game for Squalicum to be successful.

The Storm has a handful of other playmakers on the roster, such as Ben Peterson and Damek Mitchell, who are plenty capable of producing their own explosive scoring plays.

“He’s a team-first guy,” Lucey said. “We’ve had a couple games were Ben was playing quarterback, and I don’t think he had as many rushing yards those games. That’s how it goes, and he’s perfectly OK with that. … If I asked him to go play guard for us and block some 250-pound guy, that’s exactly what he’d do, and you wouldn’t hear him say a word about it.”

It’s unlikely Smith will be asked to play guard on Saturday against Ferndale, though Lucey said he also plays a vital role at cornerback, and Smith said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help Squalicum come away with a win in a battle of the two Wesco newcomers.

“Obviously, Ferndale has been a good team, and they’ve been a good team for years,” Smith said. “We’re trying to build a tradition like Ferndale has. We both came into the 3A Wesco this year, and we knew coming in that either Oak Harbor or Ferndale would be the team we’d be battling. Ferndale has been one of our rivals for years. We’re excited to play. This is going to be a good one.”

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