Scorps set for playoff showdown with Moriarty

Karl Schneider
Farmington's Axel Fowler runs with the ball during a Nov. 6 game against Gallup at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – After beating up on No. 5 Española Valley last week, Farmington continues its 5A football playoff push with a trip to Moriarty Friday night.

The Scorpions, who were given the 12th and final seed in the playoff bracket, topped EV 48-20 last week. The win moved FHS (8-3) into the quarterfinals, where it will face the No. 4 Fighting Pintos.

Moriarty received the fourth seed and the bye into the quarters after winning District 5-5A and going 8-2 in the regular season.

Moriarty relied on two things during the season, a punishing running game and a dominant defense. The Pintos racked up 3,455 rushing yards this season, led by Allen Michel. The senior running back piled up 1,590 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground in 10 games this season.

“They pound the ball, they’re really patient and they don’t make mistakes,” Farmington head coach Jeff Dalton said. “We have to be disciplined and fundamentally sound for four quarters.”

With a dominant running game, Moriarty threw the ball just 59 times all season.

On defense, Moriarty held opponents to 14 points per game while constantly creating turnovers. The Pintos came up with 15 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries for the season.

“They don’t make mistakes, and they’re a well-coached, disciplined football team. We have to be patient, because if we try to force something and make a mistake, they’re going to jump on it,” Dalton said of Moriarty’s defense. “The key is we have to execute and do our individual jobs. If we get selfish and start trying to make things happen with individual play, that’s when we’ll make mistakes, and they’ll take advantage of it.”

To help keep the Pinto defense in check, Dalton plans to establish the run with sophomore running back Axel Fowler, who emerged as a solid runner between the tackles with the speed to be a big threat.

“Axel has taken on a huge role as a sophomore, and he’s not a sophomore anymore. He’s an experienced player and getting better, and it has really taken a lot of pressure off of Cody and the passing game,” Dalton said. “And he makes the (opposing) defensive line pay attention to him because he can break a big play at any time.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.