Here's what to look for during the opening weekend of high school football across San Juan

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times
Piedra Vista wide receiver Josh Wulfert heads upfield ahead of Los Lunas defenders in the Panthers home opener, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, at Hutchison Stadium.

FARMINGTON — There's going to be plenty of stories to follow as the opening weekend of the high school football season gets underway Friday across San Juan County.

With three games slated under the Friday night lights, here's who and what we'll be looking for in the opening night slate of football games.

Farmington at Piedra Vista, Friday, 7 p.m. at Hutchison Stadium

The Scorpions will be relying on a number of returning defensive stars, including junior linebacker Isaac Foutz.

Last season, the Scorpions surrendered only 108 points, an average of only nine points per game.

Offensively, junior quarterback Trel Griego will get to show his potential when he lines up under center for the Scorpions. Last season, Griego played primarily as a backup, but has the confidence of coach Jeff Dalton.

"(Griego) is a gifted quarterback who gives us a lot of options on the ground and through the air," Dalton said.

Piedra Vista will once again be relying on the strength of their running game, which will be led by senior running backs Jacob Ramsted and Zach Mora-Dotson.

On the defensive side of things, coach Jared Howell is looking for big things from senior lineman Tyson Charles, who is coming off a knee injury that prevented him from playing last season.

"I'm really pulling for him, he's a good kid who can hopefully do some things for us," Howell said.

Also expected to be a factor on the Panthers defensive line is senior Noah Valencia. Coming in at 6-foot, 5-inches tall, Valencia will be hard to miss.

"The last time I had a nose guard at that size, we were playing in the state championship," Howell said. "So that's a positive sign."

The Panthers come into the season ranked sixth among Class 5A teams in the preseason coaches poll, which was released earlier this week. That ranking places them at the top of District 2-5A, just ahead of Belen (seventh) and well ahead of Highland and Miyamura, which both landed outside the top 10 teams.

For the Scorpions, it could be tough sledding in their first season competing in Class 6A. The preseason coaches poll has Farmington at 13th in the classification, behind all but one rival (West Mesa) in District 2/5-6A. La Cueva comes into the season ranked second in Class 6A, while Eldorado is ranked 10th and Sandia ranked 12th.

The Scorpions vs. Panthers game will be the Daily Times game of the week Friday night, with live coverage online through our website.

Aztec at Miyamura, Friday, 7 p.m.

The Tigers may well have a strong season on the offensive side of the ball, where receivers Tristen McNeal and Baylor Seabolt could put up big numbers. Junior quarterback Landon Frost will be hoping to improve off his sophomore campaign, when he completed nearly 56% of his passes with 18 touchdowns and more than 1,300 yards through the air.

Aztec comes into the season ranked 11th in the state at Class 4A in the preseason coaches poll. The Tigers are one of only two teams in District 1-4A to be in the preseason coaches poll, along with Bloomfield (ranked third). Miyamura comes into its season unranked in Class 5A.

Kirtland Central at Silver, Friday, 7 p.m.

The Broncos will have a number of new playmakers on their offense this weekend when they open on the road against Silver. Senior quarterback Tyler Beach appears to have some size in front of him on the offensive line, with Nickolas Billie and Donovan Farley providing much of the bulk.

The Colts, who lost in the quarterfinals to Lovington last year, will once again be led on the field by senior running back Aiden Granado, who gained over 1,600 yards last season. Silver also figures to be very strong on the defensive side of the ball, where Granado also excelled, snagging eight interceptions last season.

Chase Gibbs (70), Jaten Pousson (85) and Weldon Lee (58) lead the Kirtland Central football team onto the field before the start of their game against Grants, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at Kirtland Central High School.

Silver will enter Friday night's contest ranked fourth in the state in the preseason coaches poll, ahead of all three of its rivals in District 3/5-4A. St. Pius comes in ranked fifth in Class 4A, while Valencia enters the season ranked 10th and Grants comes in at No. 12.

Kirtland Central enters the season unranked in the coaches poll.

Shiprock at Tohatchi, Friday, 7 p.m.

The Chieftains will have a presence on both the offensive and defensive lines, according to their preseason roster. Junior offensive/defensive lineman Koi Jones is 6-foot, 3-inches tall and should have a factor in helping their offensive playmakers take advantage of open space.

The Chieftains will again turn to senior quarterback Cudia Tihe to do the bulk of their playmaking.

Neither Shiprock nor Tohatchi are listed as ranked teams in the preseason coaches polls for their respective classifications. District 1-3A, in which Tohatchi plays, is represented in the preseason poll by both Zuni (14th) and Navajo Prep (16th).