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Sutton Smith propels Francis Howell deep into Class 6 playoffs

Sutton Smith runs upfield for a first down against Jefferson City in Howell’s Class 6, District 3 victory Friday, Nov. 7 at Francis Howell.            (Mike Keithly/KEM Photography photo)

Sutton Smith runs upfield for a first down against Jefferson City in Howell’s Class 6, District 3 victory Friday, Nov. 7 at Francis Howell. (Mike Keithly/KEM Photography photo)

After a good look at Sutton Smith’s overall body of work, it is hard not to come away amazed and in awe.

The senior running back had rushed for an eye-popping 1,943 yards on 228 carries for a 8.5 yards per game average heading into Francis Howell’s Class 6 semifinal matchup on Nov. 14 at Kansas City Rockhurst. That total was the area’s fifth best as Smith helped lead Howell to an 11-0 record and give the Vikings a second chance at the Class 6 championship game in three seasons.

At 6-foot-1, and 210 pounds, Smith can pound the rock between the tackles for the hard yards, and when needed can bounce a run play outside and turn a small run into a huge one in a hurry.

“I would describe my running style as just doing my job,” Smith said. “That’s all I can really say because if I do my job, then everybody can do theirs and it’s just whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Although he is the Vikings’ main offensive weapon on most every play, Smith is always quick to point out that his success via ground or air is primarily due to Howell’s massive offensive line and receivers, which pave truck-like holes for him.

“It’s a honestly  a team effort,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything I’ve done without those guys.”

While Smith, who has verbally committed to Northern Illinois, has become well-known for his running ability the past few years, it is his leadership and work ethic on and off the field that has helped him improve his game and keep the Vikings among the elite programs in Missouri.

“I think the biggest blessing with Sutton is that he understands that it’s a team effort and whether it’s him scoring a touchdown or a receiver, or Desmond (Niboh) running or however we score a touchdown, our entire group celebrates it as a team,” Howell coach Bryan Koch said. “Sutton is a guy that has a great work ethic and does everything he can to be better and make his teammates better.”

As a junior, Smith ran for 1,153 yards with 15 touchdowns, and had 190 yards receiving with two scoring catches.

Running track, along with his off-season training with Elite Football Academy and former St. Louis Rams running back Arlen Harris, really helped him become not just a north-south runner, but an explosive all-around offensive playmaker this season, Smith said.

“I’ve never been caught from behind this year and I plan not to be. That’s my biggest fear,” Smith said. “That offseason was big when I worked with Arlen Harris, Elite Football Academy, and a little bit with the Rams. They taught me some techniques, and when I ran track last year everything just kind of stepped up from then.”

Smith’s goals heading into the fall were simply to break the school rushing record and help carry Howell to the Class 6 title game.

He was in great position to do both as he headed into the state semifinal game with Rockhurst – needing just 8 yards to eclipse the school rushing record og 1,951 yards and help the Vikings win a trip to the Edward Jones Dome on Nov. 29.

Ultimately, bringing a state championship back to Howell is the only thing that will satisfy Smith and his teammates.

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