Michigan’s fifth-ranked team, East Kentwood, took on the West Ottawa Panthers. While Jr. Kyle Dent takes a three-step drop back on the 50-yard line while looking downfield for an open receiver. While looking downfield, Dent finds what looks to be an open receiver across the middle of the field. As Dent fires the ball down the field with nothing but pure strength he forgot to account for the safety across the middle of the field. At this moment Jr. Jason Fairfield leaped in front of Dent’s intended receiver and makes the interception with seven minutes left in the game up 34-7.
Fairfield’s job is not an easy one, especially when he has a new style offense to face week in and week out. Every game, every play, and every down is a new thought process for Fairfield right before the ball is snapped. “Well I’ve got to read the keys which is the style of the offense that we’re facing and depending on what my keys are will dictate whether I’m in the middle of the field or lined up on a receiver,” said Fairfield. Fairfield’s mind is always racing with thoughts of locating the ball, intercepting the pass, or tackling the ball carrier.
When watching Fairfield play free safety it is almost like magic. Fairfield’s ability to read the quarterback’s eyes 15 yards away from him is a talent very few poses and Fairfield makes it look quite easy at times. “It really isn’t that difficult, if you just look at his head it’s pretty easy to tell where he wants to go with the ball because his head will be in the general direction of his intended receiver then at that point it’s on me to find that receiver and make a play on the ball,” said Fairfield. Whether he needs to be over the top of routes or undercutting them Fairfield has a gift of reading the quarterback’s eyes.
A safety has one main job on the defensive side of the ball and that is to make sure if the ball is being thrown that the receiver does not make a reception. Fairfield’s position is different from most on the field. Fairfield has to backpedal away from the line of scrimmage when the ball is initially snapped just in case it is a pass play. “I have to backpedal to make sure it’s not a pass and if it’s a run then I come up and play the run,” said Fairfield.
Now interceptions are hard enough to achieve on the field but some of the most important work towards one isn’t even on the field. Film sessions and film study is a behind the scene play where the team or individuals sit down and study plays that their opponents of that week will run against them. Fairfield is an avid film watcher and knows exactly what he’s looking at and for in the film room. “We go over their plays and after watching it so much seeing some formations will let me know exactly what type of play the other team is about to run,” said Fairfield. “Against EK they ran a two-two on us which means they had two receivers on either side of the ball and seeing that let me know that my receiver was about to run a corner route and being able to know that before the ball was even snapped I was able to make a play on the ball,” said Fairfield. Film sessions can make or break the game for some players and with Fairfield, he knows just how important film can be.