FARMINGTON — Last year, Farmington High School fell just short of a state soccer championship, but the Scorpions think they have the returning talent to make another title run.
FHS lost six seniors, including 4A Player of the Year Jermey Klepac, from the 2012 runner-ups that dropped the title game 1-0 to Chaparral. Despite that, first-year head coach Byron Farnsworth knows the expectations will be high for his squad heading into the new season.
"It's always going to be the same here at FHS. We're expecting to compete for a state championship," Farnsworth said.
The new coach said his team will rely on a strong back line throughout the season as it looks to replace the goal scoring lost from a season ago.
"I have an extremely talented defense. We're eight or nine guys deep in the back. Basically, we'll fill out the rest of the field and go from there," Farnsworth said. "One thing we're still looking for is someone who will score. We had the big seniors that we lost scoring most of the goals. That's going to be the key for us -- who steps up and starts scoring the goals."
Senior Nathaniel Pavlik will be one of the defenders counted on heavily to shut down the opposing team's best goal scorers.
"I think we need to start simple -- connect our passes, move the ball forward, focus on the basics -- and everything will progress from there," Pavlik said.
In goal, FHS will start Connor Tornquist, who is moving up from the junior varsity ranks.
Pavlik knows that the experienced defenders will need make sure there are no easy scoring chances for the opposition as they work in the new goalkeeper.
"We have to make sure there are no big errors and that they aren't getting easy shots in dangerous places," he said.
Farnsworth expects that once everyone within in the team settles into their roles, FHS will have a strong offensive team, but his team will need to work on maintaining possession in order to spark its attack.
"Ball control is something we want to improve. We want to be aggressive and use our athleticism to attack," he said. "We lost some speed in our forwards, so we'll use our strength and skill to make up for it."
Everyone on the team remains confident that the Scorps will able to make it back to the championship game.
"I think we have what it takes to be state champs if the young guys come in and fill their spot," said midfielder Raul Terrazas.
Coach: Pablo Quintana (first year)
Last season: 5-14, second in District 1-4A
Key returners: Beau Velarde, Cody Colebrook
New additions: Skylar Tracy, Kegan Roady
Season outlook: "I've been paying close attention to not just PV, but Farmington as well, and they are both very competitive. By the end of the season, whatever team works the hardest will win the district. We're still the underdog, but I think if we stay humble and work hard, we'll have a chance." -- Pablo Quintana
Coach: Brian Benfield (fifth year)
Last season: 3-12-1, third in District 1-4A
Key returners: Garrett Tucker, Brendan Huntsman, Brandon Stafford
New additions: Bailey Watkins
Season outlook: "I'm expecting us to step up and provide some good competition. It'd be nice to step up and give (FHS) a reminder we're still here. We'd at least like to be .500. We have a good group that's a little more mature this year." -- Brian Benfield
Coach: Jarly Lopez (20th year)
Last season: 16-5, eliminated in first round of 3A/A playoffs
Key returners: Raul Fonseca, Alex Portillo, Gage Kreilick. Sergio Payas
New additions: Edgar Fonseca
Season outlook: "We should be good, but we'll have some new guys step in. They gave us a bad ranking last year, putting us with Rehoboth and seeding us 12th. We had one of the best records in the state. We did really well. We have the experience and the attitude that we can do it. We'll have to be in that mindset that every game counts. We had a strong defense, and we'll work harder and focus more offense." -- Jarly Lopez
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.