The junior took over as starting quarterback for Farmington High just days before the season began

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FARMINGTON — Heading into the summer, Diego Elebario was set to enter his senior year as the starting quarterback for the Farmington football team, with junior Kody Becenti as back up.

But late into training camp, coach Jeff Dalton made a change.

Before Farmington’s opening game against Los Lunas on Aug. 28, Dalton made Becenti his starting quarterback and moved Elebario to wide receiver.

The decision didn’t have anything to do with Elebario’s performance. Dalton said moving Elebario to wide receiver freed up the athletes to make more plays.

“There were a lot of factors to making the change,” Dalton said. “It really starts with Diego. You want that guy to get the ball in space as much as possible.”

Also, Becenti was ready for the pressure that comes with being a starting quarterback, Dalton said.

“Part of the discussion was centered around, ‘Can we get away with not having Diego at quarterback?’ and if someone was able to step up and take that role,” he said. “And Kody grew through the summer. We started getting him reps and hadn’t fully made the decision, but when it came time to start the season it just made a lot of sense.”

The two athletes — who are close friends — said they welcomed the change.

Becenti said their friendship has translated to a solid rapport on the field, and he considers Elebario his No. 1 target when he drops back to throw.

He also said he learned a lot by playing understudy to Elebario last season.

“It was very insightful for me,” Becenti said. “Just seeing how he controlled the game and controlled everything about being a quarterback was good for me.”

Elebario said he has accepted the position change for several reasons.

“I get to play defense now, and that’s a plus,” he said. “I have fun playing wide receiver, and Kody throws a great ball, so it’s good.”

The Farmington offense has not skipped a beat since implementing the offensive shakeup. The 5-1 Scorpions have scored no fewer than 53 points in their last four wins.

In Farmington’s 53-14 drubbing of Grants last week, Becenti threw for three touchdowns — including two to Elebario — and rushed for two more. But it took him a while to get going in that game, and he was off the mark with his throws for much of the first quarter.

Dalton said Becenti’s ability to adjust was on display as he picked up the pace in the passing game after a sloppy opening quarter.

“That’s one thing that makes Kody such a good quarterback, is his ability to adjust. He’s smart,” Dalton said. “He’s not the fastest quarterback in the world. He can make space because he knows how to step up in the pocket and knows where to attack a defense.”

Becenti said he is gradually learning about how much preparation goes into being a starting quarterback. As the weeks go by, he said he thinks he’s doing a better job of staying composed and confident, especially when things aren’t going his way.

“Having confidence in myself, week after week, no matter what, is something I always think about,” he said. “When things start going wrong, I take some deep breaths on the field and just realize I have confidence in myself and my teammates, and that things will work out.”

Off the field, Becenti is a good student, something every football coach looks for, Dalton said.

“Being a great student-athlete is what it’s all about,” Dalton said. “He’s a 4.0 kid, and he works hard, and that’s what it’s all about. If you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, it’s going to transfer to football. He’s able to focus on details, he’s able to make correction, and that’s exactly what we want.”

A Friday night game against 4-3 Piedra Vista is on the horizon for Farmington. The cross-town rivalry always makes for an electric atmosphere, especially because both teams play their home games at Hutchison Stadium.

Elebario was under center in last year’s game, when the Panthers grinded out a 7-0 victory over the Scorpions.

The senior said he hasn’t talked with Becenti much about what to expect in the big game. But the quiet confidence both athletes exude speaks volumes.

“He’s doing pretty good in the spotlight,” Elebario said of Becenti. “There’s not much to say, it’s just another game to us, and I know he’s going to be prepared to give it his all.”

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

A closer look: Kody Becenti

1. Favorite team?
“New Orleans Saints.”
2. Favorite athlete?
“Drew Brees.”
3. Favorite food?
“Chicken alfredo.”
4. Favorite movie?
“Friday Night Lights.”
5. Favorite subject in school?
"Math.”
6. Least favorite subject?
“English.”
7. Biggest fear?
“Failure.”
8. Do you play any other sports? 
“Basketball and baseball.”
9. What is the first thing you would do with $1 million?
“Save it and put it toward college, I guess.”
10. Do you have any pregame rituals?
“No.”

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