FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista High School's varsity football team will be short seven players this season after the boys were named suspects in the overturning of two vehicles in Farmington earlier this month.

Football coach Jared Howell said he made the decision about two weeks ago to drop the players from the team. He said he did it to send a message that such behavior will not be tolerated.

"I don't think they were bad kids," he said. "There were some kids that I was totally shocked — totally shocked — that they were involved, but we are trying to teach these kids to be higher-level thinkers. If you don't like where the group is going, get out of the group."

Howell said the incident is a challenge the team will work to overcome.

"Every school has incidents that cause adversity," he said. "You really learn who you are after that. We are going to turn that into something you can build off of. We are going to use that adversity to build our team."

Howell said the boys, who were not identified by police, may be able to try out for the team next year, if they perform well academically and show remorse.

The Farmington Police Department said Wednesday in a press release that officers were dispatched the night of Aug. 2 to a residence on Crestridge Drive after receiving reports that a vehicle had been overturned. Officers were dispatched again later in the morning to respond to a similar incident a mile and a half away on Sundown Road.

The boys, who are all 16 and live in Farmington, were identified as suspects based on anonymous tips and an investigation by the juvenile division of the Farmington detectives bureau. Charges for criminal damage to property were referred to the juvenile court, the release states.

Howell said the boys overturned the vehicles as a prank, not realizing the cars would be so badly damaged. He said, as far as he knows, the targeted vehicles were chosen at random.

"I think they realized that they had really messed up," he said. "The kids were remorseful."

The police department said it was seeking additional suspects involved in the vandalism. Howell said he would be "shocked" if any more players from his team were involved.

Piedra Vista's first football game of the season is on Aug. 29 against Utah's San Juan High School.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and stgarrison@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.