Scorpions look to be strong on offense as season opener at Roswell nears

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — No matter how you look at it, most championships or great achievements in sports over the last calendar year will have some kind of notation that goes along with it.

An asterisk or an italicized paragraph indicating that this particular championship wasn't like all the others.

The Farmington Scorpions football team falls into that category. 

After a perfect 4-0 start to the abbreviated 2021 spring football season, the Scorpions went on the road to University Stadium in Albuquerque to face Mayfield last April in what was essentially a bowl game, since there were no recognized state championship games according to the New Mexico Activities Association.

Farmington went out and did what they'd done all season, crushing the Mayfield Trojans by a final of 48-28, completing the perfect season and outscoring their opponents 258-74.

Head coach Jeff Dalton expects much of the same from his Scorpions team this season, including the high-scoring offense, but without punctuation marks or italicized descriptions.

"There's always going to growing pains when you're starting a season, but we got a lot of returning players on offense and those guys know how to move the ball," Dalton said before practice Thursday at Hutchison Stadium. "That's our philosophy from day one, if you're going to be on offense, you need to be in love with scoring."

Dalton is entering his seventh season as FHS head football coach, amassing a record of 40-22-1 in his time on the sidelines. In that time, the Scorpions have represented District 1-5A well, putting together a record of 18-3 against district opponents and appearing in the postseason every year with a record of 3-4.

"We have high expectations every year, we feel like we have a strong program that can be in the mix every year," Dalton said. 

Farmington Scorpion receiver Kayden Gonzalez (80) and defensive back A.J. Garcia pursue a loose ball during team drills at practice, Thursday, Aug. 5 at Hutchison Stadium.

In addition to what Dalton considers to be a potent offense, he also believes their veteran defense will step up this season, which opens Friday, Aug. 20, on the road at Roswell.

"Our linebacking corps is probably where our most experience is," Dalton said. "They're going to buy us some time to get clicking on offense. Our biggest strength is going to be the heart of our defense."

One of the fundamentals Dalton is pushing onto his offensive skill players has been the ability to move the ball down the field quickly and efficiently.

"I feel like we're fast, we work a lot on getting players into a position where speed matters," Dalton said. "We want to be in a position where we can be a fast attacking offense."

The Scorpions are likely to be considered the overwhelming favorites to repeat as district champions, but Dalton knows better than to overlook any of those district opponents, particularly crosstown rival Piedra Vista.

"Regardless of talent, Piedra Vista's always a formidable opponent," Dalton said. "The history or talent levels doesn't really matter. That game at the end of the season is always a dogfight."

Farmington Scorpion quarterback Trel Griego prepares to throw a pass as players and coaches look on during team drills Thursday, Aug. 5 at Hutchison Stadium

Dalton believes that the Scorpions football team is excited about the opportunity to play football in the summer and fall, as opposed to the shortened schedule of last season, affected so much be delays and restrictions due to coronavirus protocols.

"Last season was tough, not because of being underprepared, but at a certain point we felt like the kids were going to get burned out," Dalton said. "The kids were ready, but then we were told there was going to be a season and then there wasn't. That was the bigger concern last season."

Now with hopefully a clearer timeline going forward and some return to normalcy as far as sports are concerned, Dalton thinks the challenges of getting his team ready are more typical.

"This year's felt a lot more normal," Dalton said. "We don't feel like we have to tell the kids that the season may be right around the corner. They kind of know when it's going to be."

The Scorpions will be looking at a couple different options at the quarterback position this season, with Brandon Furbee, Trel Griego and Caleb Carillo being a few of the  playmakers Dalton thinks will make a big impression.

"If we had to pick any of them, we'd be alright with that," Dalton said. "They can all sling the ball around and whatever the case may be, we're going to be solid at quarterback."

Opening the season on the road at Roswell is a statement game for the Scorpions according to Dalton. The Coyotes have been one of the leading programs in the state for several years and the Scorpions head coach is anxious for the challenge of playing at the Wool Bowl, the home field for the Coyotes which can hold up to 6000 fans.

"That's exciting. We know they're going to be ready," Dalton said. "We'll see what we're made of right away."  

Farmington Scorpions 2021 Schedule

(All games on Friday)

Aug. 20 — Farmington at Roswell

Aug. 27 — Belen at Farmington

Sept. 3 — Farmington at Highland

Sept. 10 — Farmington at Aztec

Sept. 17 — Durango at Farmington

Sept. 24 — Del Norte at Farmington

Oct. 1 — Farmington at Los Alamos

Oct. 8 — Miyamura at Farmington

Oct. 22 — Capital at Farmington

Oct. 29 — Farmington vs. Piedra Vista

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680