FARMINGTON — After cruising to a District 1-5A title in 2015, Farmington will have be tasked with replacing eight seniors from last year's team, including second-team All-State goalkeeper Connor Tornquist, who anchored a defense that allowed just 10 goals in 21 matches.
The FHS defense helped lead the Scorps to a District 1-5A title and the No. 4 seed in the 5A state tournament, where they were upset by No. 12 St. Pius X 2-1 in overtime of the quarterfinals.
FHS will return second-team All-State defender Branson Carter, as well as honorable mention selection Andrew Moss to lead a back line that could be equally as tough as the 2014 version.
"We're very deep on the defensive line. We have four guys returning on the back line who we're building the team around," FHS head coach Byron Farnsworth said. "And after losing three senior goalkeepers from last season, it's a good opportunity for some other guys to step up and fill that role."
Farnsworth said he is excited about what the season has in store for the Scorps with younger players stepping up to take a large role.
After the tough loss in the state tournament last year, the Scorps were hard at work over the summer.
"We have very high standards at Farmington High School, and the guys have done a lot to meet those standards," Farnsworth said. "The biggest thing is preparing our team to put ourselves in a good position to compete."
Chasing the Scorps will be Piedra Vista, which finished second in the district and missed the playoffs a year ago.
Once again, the Panthers will be short on experience.
"We're still a very young team with just one senior this year. We're mostly juniors or sophomores, so we're still young, but the future looks good," PV head coach Pat Denney said. "We still have a lot of young players who are stepping into a new environment, but they're adjusting very well and quickly."
PV lost just four players to graduation, but that included the team's two leading goal scorers, Joseph Denny and Joaquin Sais, who combined for 34 of the team's 51 goals and 20 of PV's 26 assists.
Back to lead the Panthers in 2015 will be juniors Richard Cross and Angel Flores, who were both named captains during the 2014 campaign.
Denney said he thinks the Panthers will be able to challenge FHS in District 1-5A, but he doesn't want to set expectations too high for the young team.
"I haven't really set any expectations for the team," Denny said. "We're still getting over the many coaching changes that took place over the past six years and getting everyone working together. Team unity is No. 1 right now."
Aztec hit double-digit wins in 2014, but struggled in the second half of the season, finishing third in the district.
The Tigers also lost four seniors from last year's team and will return a senior-laden roster this season.
"Last year, being a first-year head coach and the guys having a new coach, it was rough coming into it. We didn't have that much time to prepare," Aztec head coach Stephen Scales said. "This time around, we had more time to get ready and a little more rigor in preparing."
Back to lead the offensive attack will be leading goal scorer Bailey Watkins — an All-State honorable mention in 2014 — and junior Riley Barber, who led the Tigers with 11 assists in 2014.
The Tigers also return senior keeper Canyon Giomarac, who Scales believes is ready for a breakout season.
"He has shown huge improvement from last year," Scales said of Giomorac. "He played well last year, but he has really taken a big step forward. I'm looking at him to be a cornerstone of the team."
In District 1-4A/A, Bloomfield will look to improve on a 2014 season that saw the Bobcats earn just two wins.
Seven seniors are gone from last year's Bloomfield team, but the Bobcats will return 2014 All-State honorable mention Edgar Fonseca for his senior season.
"Edgar's been our captain for the past two seasons. He's one of the best players in the state," Bloomfield head coach Scott Reid said. "Coaches in this area know him very well. He's the man who's going to control the middle for me."
The Bobcats will have three senior defenders to help solidify a back line that gave up 99 goals in 2014.
Farmington will kick off its season on Sept. 5 at Bosque.
PV opened its season Friday, hosting Bosque and falling 10-0.
Aztec and Bloomfield also opened play Friday. Both squads knocked off Farmington High's junior varsity team before facing off against each other, with Aztec winnning 3-2.