Just two weeks into the high school football season, East Greenwich senior captain Conrad Swanson already has more than enough material for an impressive highlight reel.
The 6-foot, 185 pound lefty quarterback has thrown for eight (8) touchdowns in just two league games to lead East Greenwich to two back-to-back convincing wins, including a five TD performance in a recent one-sided (38-6) win over Middletown.
“Conrad came into the season stronger than he was last year,” said East Greenwich coach John George. “He works really hard. He is not a big rah rah guy. He keeps his mouth shut and plays. He’s a great leader for us.“
Swanson is making his mark as another one of the great quarterbacks to play at East Greenwich, joining the likes of the former RI Gatorade Player of the Year Nick Andreozzi and Andrew Blessing, who had stellar careers for the Avengers.
“The thing that amazed me most about Conrad was last year when it was his first time starting after being behind Andrew Blessing for two years, who was another great quarterback. Usually a new quarterback comes in and there’s growing pains. There’s always a period of learning and growth. But Conrad made good decisions and hit his targets right away He was great out of the gate,” said George. “I’ve been lucky to have had good quarterbacks. None of them were that good that soon. Conrad had a great year last year. He only turned the ball over three times during the entire season. That’s amazing.”
When one of George’s players went down with an injury, Swanson was asked to run the ball more, He didn’t flinch and became one of the team’s top rushers.
“He was very impressive,” said George.
What’s equally as impressive is that in an era when most high school athletes focus on one sport, Swanson excels in three – football, hockey and baseball. He’s also an exceptional student.
“I love playing three sports,” said Swanson, who earned All-Division honors in football and was a Second Team All-State selection in hockey. “Whatever sport I’m playing is my favorite.”
He chose to focus on football over the summer in an effort to prepare himself for his final high school season. His hard work has paid off.
Swanson trained with quarterback specialist Kyle Rowley, the former Bishop Hendricken and Brown standout, who played 14 years as a professional in the Arena Football League.
“Conrad caught my attention at the Blackmon/Rowley Combine. He definitely stood out. He can flatout throw a football,” said Rowley. “But what people don’t see is that he works tirelessly behind the scenes. That kind of thing is crucial at the quarterback position because it’s a leadership spot. That’s why he is having this kind of success at the high school level and why he will gain attention from college coaches this season.”
That is Swanson’s goal – to play college football while pursuing an engineering degree. He hasn’t decided where that will be just yet.
For now, he is focusing on his final high school football season with the Avengers. He is one of 16 experienced seniors who return to the field after reaching the Division II Super Bowl last year. The Avengers came up just short in the championship game, losing to Woonsocket – the only team who had beaten EG during the regular season.
Despite this season’s early success – both personally and overall as a team – Swanson said it is crucial that he and his teammates stay focused in every practice and in every game – regardless of who their opponent is each week.
Staying focused is the biggest lesson he has learned from his father, Conrad II, who was also a former three-sport athlete at East Greenwich. A 1982 EG graduate, the elder Swanson excelled in football, basketball and baseball in high school. He later went on to play football at Brown University and now serves as the Avengers’ assistant coach.
“My dad said you have to stay focused. One slip, one let down and it can cost you the season,” said Conrad.
His father knows first hand.
“We lost one game during the season to Lincoln. There were no playoffs back then…just the top two teams went to the Super Bowl. We lost to Lincoln and they went to the Super Bowl. Our season was over. That one loss cost us a spot in the Super Bowl.”
Although it was nearly 40 years ago, the loss still stings.
“I remember it like it was …today,” said the elder Swanson.
So he shared the story with his son, to help make certain history won’t repeat itself.
“My dad always tells me to concentrate on one game at a time,” said Conrad. “He played on a good team and they lost focus and lost a game. That was it… their season was done. We don’t want that to happen to us. We know it’s important to focus on one game at a time. That is key for us this year.”
GameTime High School Football streams on YurView.com and can also be seen Thursdays and Fridays evenings on YurView, Cox channels 4 and 1004.