Prep Newsmaker: Fowler runs hard for Farmington
Junior exploded for 239 rushing yards as Farmington flattened Aztec to advance in the 5A state playoffs
FARMINGTON — The Scorpions are the last local football team left standing in this year's state playoffs, and junior Axel Fowler is one of the reasons why.
Farmington's offense has proven to be a potent one, averaging just short of 42 points per game since Sept. 16, the fourth week of the season.
The Scorps have used a plethora of weapons to move the chains, making it impossible for defenses to key in on a single player. They boast a dual-threat quarterback in Kody Becenti, a dynamic pass-catching back in Donovan Gonzalez, one of the most dependable play-making receivers in the district in Sol Rascon and Fowler, whose power and speed combination is just unfair.
During Farmington's 42-22 first-round 5A playoff victory over Aztec last week, Fowler ran wild on the Tigers with 239 rushing yards. Early in the fourth quarter, Fowler put the game on ice by bursting through the right side of his offensive line for a 67-yard touchdown run on a sting play.
"I just saw a wide open hole, so I used my speed and ran through it," Fowler said.
Fowler's touchdown put the Scorps up by 13. That speed he used on the long run comes in handy during the track and field season for the two-sport athlete, but it's far from his crutch.
Fowler, who also plays safety for the Scorps, would just as soon run through players as speed past them.
"I like hitting other people," Fowler said. "I don't like running out of bounds. I find a way to get what I get."
FHS head coach Jeff Dalton said time of possession and Fowler's ability to run the ball successfully factored into the 20-point playoff win. The coach said his top running back was definitely "on" last Friday.
"A kid like Axel, when he's feeling good, you can really demoralize a defense when he can carry the load like that," Dalton said. "Aztec, they're a hard-fighting team. But you don't want to keep hitting that guy, 'cause he's running full speed and he's a big kid."
Even in track, which Dalton also coaches, Fowler's success is rooted in the weight room and at practices. He's a player who takes great pride in workouts, according to Dalton, and this season he's been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor on game days.
"He's just a workhorse," Dalton said. "He's one of the hardest-working guys we've had on the track team in a while. He's just a driven kid, and we talk about that all the time. You get what you earn, and he's never slowed down one day as far as working out and trusting what we're doing, and it's paying off for him."
On Friday night, the Scorps will head down to Albuquerque to play No. 2 St. Pius X in the 5A quarterfinals. The Sartans have given up eight points or fewer in four of their past six games, which were all victories, so Farmington's offense will have to be even better and more disciplined than it was against Aztec.
Luckily for Fowler, he feels like his relationship with his offensive line is as good as it has been all season.
"I like to give credit to my linemen, because they're the ones who block for me," Fowler said. "We've been doing great, I've been talking to them, and we all know we do it altogether, and that's all that matters."
Dalton said Fowler doesn't talk about stats. He doesn't ask the coaches what his stat line was from the previous game.
It's unlikely, but if Fowler only manages 20 or 30 yards of offense against Pius but his team still wins, Dalton said he thinks that'll be just fine by his standout running back.
"Another thing that makes us really appreciate Axel is he doesn't care who gets the credit," Dalton said. "We all achieve more when we don't care who gets the credit, that's something that drives us. Axel really lives by that. He's just wanting to be a part of his team and win, and he's doing his part."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.
A closer look: Axel Fowler
1. Favorite team?
"New Orleans Saints."
2. Favorite athlete?
3. Favorite food?
4. Favorite movie?
5. Favorite subject in school?
6. Least favorite subject?
7. Biggest fear?
"Losing someone I love."
8. Do you play any other sports?
9. What is the first thing you would do with $1 million?
"Probably buy a nice house."
10. Do you have any pre-game rituals?
"Just listen to my music."