FARMINGTON – The Farmington High football team has lost just three games in the past two seasons while winning 17. It hasn’t been good enough for a berth in the CIAC Class L tournament nor to claim a CCC Division II West title.
Fifth-year Chris Machol isn’t predicting that the Indians will bring home some championship banners this fall but his team will be competitive and they should be a threat to win a league championship and earn its first CIAC tournament berth since 1999.
The Indians went 8-2 a year ago and were third in the CCC Div. II West behind Class L finalist Windsor and Middletown, which also went to the playoffs. Two years earlier, Farmington was 9-1 but finished one spot shy of the tournament due to a soft schedule.
Middletown (8-3) looks strong again with 14 starters returning and eight on offense, including talented QB Dario Highsmith. The entire offensive line returns, including 6-foot-7 twins Anthony and David Bednarz. Windsor (11-1), which won the CCC Div. II West for the second straight year, will have a new QB but returns about half of their starting lineup including DT Keith Benjamin.
Farmington looks good, too. “We have an incredibly athletic class,” Machol said. “We can spread the ball around. We have to make teams we play defend the width of the field and we have the athletes to do that.”
On offense, Farmington has a new offensive line but they return a host of skill players. Jeremy Buck who started at quarterback last season before getting hurt early in the season, returns along with the dynamic Kenny Jones, who had 1,675 total yards on offense (rushing, receiving, passing) last fall.
Jones ran for 632 yards and 7 TDs on 71 carries and caught 5 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. When Buck got hurt, Jones stepped in at quarterback and was solid all season, completing 53 of 95 passes for 939 yards and 9 TDs.
Along with Jones, Buck will have several outstanding targets. Anthony Carpenter, who caught 32 passes for 638 yards and 6 TDs last fall, returns along with halfback Colin Grattan, tight end Elijah Johnson and running back Ivan Guadalupe.
Guadalupe will anchor the Farmington running game. The 12th Indian runner to get over 1,000 yards in a single season, Guadalupe ran for a team-high 1,302 yards and 19 TDs on 176 carries. He caught five passes for 56 yards while gaining 94 and 37 yards, respectively on kickoff and punt returns.
“All of these kids want the ball. We’ll make sure we get everyone involved,” Machol said.
Defensively, Farmington should be solid, too. Jones, Carpenter, Guadalupe will be in the secondary with Johnson and Gratton at linebacker. Jayson Martin, a 6-foot-2 senior, will play at defensive end along with Dan Hardiman, a 6-foot-4 junior, who had 30 tackles a year ago as a sophomore and Chaunsey Pilgrim. Martin is very quick and Hardiman is one of the strongest players on the team.
Many of the Indians will be playing on both sides of the ball. But Machol isn’t worried. He said the team is in good shape. The most inexperienced spot on the team could be on the offensive line with just two seniors in the mix.
Since the CCC readjusts their football schedules every two years, Farmington has three new opponents this fall – Simsbury, Manchester and Wethersfield – that increase the strength of the schedule. The Indians open at Simsbury on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.
Coach: Chris Machol, 5th season (26-14)
Last year: 8-2, 3-2 CCC West Division II (3rd)
Key losses: All-CCC Div. II West selections Mitch Berlandy (LB), Branden Marquis (LB), Thomas Stevens (DE). Marquis was an All-State nose guard who is now playing at Western Connecticut State.
Top players: QB Jeremy Buck; RB/S Ivan Guadalupe; WR/DB Kenny Jones; WR/DB Anthony Carpenter, TE/LB Elijah Johnson, RB/LB Colin Gratton, DE Jayson Martin, G/DE Dan Hardiman, DE Chaunsey Pilgrim, C David Russell
Outlook: The Indians have plenty of offensive weapons and experience on defense returning . Kenny Jones, who ran, passed and threw for over 1,700 yards a year ago, returns along with RB Ivan Guadalupe (1,302 yards, 19 TDs), WR Anthony Carpenter (32-638, 6 TDs) and QB Jeremy Buck. Defensively, Jayson Martin and Dan Hardiman (30 tackles) are back. For the second year in a row, the Indians were the odd team out of the eight-team Class L tournament. Farmington finished ninth for the second year in a row. This year, Farmington should be a contender again for the CCC Division II West title and a playoff berth.
Of note: Farmington renews its long-dormant rivalry with Simsbury on opening night. The two teams played each year from 1948-68. They also had a two-game series in 2008 and 2009. … The Indians forced 21 turnovers a year ago (14 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions). … Carpenter had 638 yards receiving a year ago the second highest single season mark at FHS since 1970. Only Chris Slomski (32-672) in 2001 had more receiving yards.
September – 12: at Simsbury, 6 p.m.; 20: RHAM, 7 p.m.; 27: at Maloney, 6:30 p.m.
October – 4: at Wethersfield, 7 p.m.; 12: at E.O. Smith, 1 p.m.; 18: WINDSOR, 7 p.m.; 25: BRISTOL CENTRAL, 7 p.m.
November – 1: at Middletown, 7 p.m.; 8: BRISTOL EASTERN, 7 p.m.; 15: MANCHESTER, 7 p.m.; 28: at Plainville, 10 a.m.