FARMINGTON — A big-time showdown between two top San Juan County football teams has finally arrived.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Bloomfield Bobcats visit the Farmington Scorpions at Hutchison Stadium. Bloomfield enters the contest ranked No. 2 in its 3A classification on MaxPreps, and the Scorpions are ranked No. 5 in 4A.
"They are definitely one of the top teams in the state in 3A," FHS head coach Gary Bradley said of Bloomfield. "3A, 4A, I don't think there is a whole lot of difference. It will be two teams getting after it, and there is not a better game in the area."
Junior running back Adrian Vigil has powered Bloomfield this season. He has used his speed to run back three kicks for touchdowns while scoring 15 more on offense in five games. He faces his toughest test against a Farmington High defense led by Brian Farley, Austin Foutz and Kyle Reynolds that has allowed less than an average of nine points per game this season.
"Vigil is one of the best running backs in the state," Bradley said. "We have to focus on stopping the run first, no question. I don't know if we are skilled enough to kick it away from him. We never shy away from kicking it to guys. It may not be the smartest thing, but we trust in our guys to do what they need to do."
Bloomfield head coach Bruce Hatch believes his offensive line can create more lanes for Vigil to run against the Scorpions.
"We have a very good offensive line that returned everyone from last year. It has been a huge benefit for us in opening holes for Adrian to run," said Bloomfield head coach Bruce Hatch.
Bloomfield has also passed the ball effectively as senior quarterback Robert Lyon has had success throwing to a slew of receivers, including Raymundo Sanchez and Tytis Nez.
"You can't let them force you into only one thing," Hatch said. "FHS plays an aggressive style defense with kids that are fast and disciplined. They do a good job controlling people."
The Bloomfield defense has improved each week and shut out 4A Miyamura a week ago in the Bobcats' 39-0 win. Bloomfield also has a 4A win against Grants this season. But Hatch knows stopping the Scorps' offense will be a tough test.
"Our defense has made leaps and bounds of improvement and will be challenged this week, no doubt about it," Hatch said. "FHS runs the option very well, and their quarterback (Jacob Lucas) moves well. They always have a couple of good running backs."
Farley and Foutz have headed the Farmington High rushing attack, and Lucas has been able to throw the ball to a few different receivers this season. Bradley said his team hasn't focused on what Bloomfield will do as much as on not making mistakes of their own.
"We have to take what they give us. If we want to move it on these guys, we have to pass the ball more effectively, and the running game has to improve a lot with the option," Bradley said. "We have hurt ourselves more than opponents have hurt us this year."
Making things tougher on Bloomfield's defense is the loss of two starters who will sit out a one-game suspension after being ejected following a fight between the Bloomfield and Miyamura teams in last week's game. That fight led to both coaches and referees agreeing to call an end to the game with more than seven minutes still remaining.
"Anytime you lose anybody for whatever reason, somebody has to step up," Hatch said. "Especially on a team like ours. We have guys going both ways and doing multiple things. That makes it so much more important for kids to step up when they get the opportunity to perform."
Though the two teams aren't in the same classification, both coaches said a win would look nice on their resumés come playoff seeding time.
"Anytime you can get a win against a quality opponent, whether it is 1A or 5A, it is a big deal. If you can win a game against FHS, it does a lot for your confidence and come ranking time in the playoffs," Hatch said. "The same is true for them. Even though we are a 3A team, we have won some quality games."
No. 13 Aztec (2-4) at No. 15 St. Pius X (3-3)John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.