FARMINGTON – The Farmington High football team has paid their dues. Head coach Chris Machol hopes that the experience that the Indians have earned over the past two seasons pays off in 2016.
After finishing 9-1 and earning a playoff berth in 2013, the Indians have posted records of 2-8 and 4-6 in the last two campaigns. Machol is looking for the Indians to be more competitive, earn a winning season and see where the chips fall from there.
“We definitely want to take a step forward,” said Machol, who will be entering his eighth season as head coach. “We have a good group. It’s a tough league (CCC Div. II East) but we want to be on the positive side of .500 and be competitive in all of our games.”
Farmington (4-6, 1-4 CCC Division II East) has seven starters returning on offense and six on defense. They have a solid core of 23 seniors.
The Indians return a pair of experienced quarterbacks with junior Zac Conrad and senior Brooks Milhalek. Conrad completed 53 of 101 passes for 600 yards and five TDs. Milhalek completed 51 of 111 passes for 566 yards and four TDs.
“Last year, we went with who had the hot hand and both were good about it,” Machol said. This year, they give the Indians options on how to run their offense. Milhalek is more of a pocket passer while Conrad is faster scrambling with the ball if the receivers are covered downfield.
Leading rusher senior Brian Buono is also back. He ran for a team-leading 760 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago. Senior receiver Kevin Dunst (27 receptions, 299 yards, 2 TDs) is back along with senior Prince Phillip (15-148). Dunst is back for his fourth season and his third season as a starter. Phillip is a two-year starter on both sides of the ball. He plays cornerback on defense.
Dunst and Phillip will anchor the secondary along with A’Sante Graves and Connor Hillemeyer. Senior Ben Wogen will help anchor the defensive line and offensive line.
Farmington moved the ball crisply in a recent scrimmage against Avon, scoring four times. Conrad and Milhalek each threw a touchdown pass.
The CCC Div. II Eastern Division will be challenging with Windsor and Middletown, who both have strong core of returning players, including their starting quarterbacks. Windsor and Middletown each earned Class L playoff berths a year ago. E.O. Smith, South Windsor and Hartford Public comprise the remainder of the Eastern Division.
The Indians start off the season on Friday at Wethersfield – another 2014 playoff team – but the Eagles had some significant graduation losses. Wethersfield earned back-to-back Class L playoff berths.
OF NOTE: Farmington’s Oct. 21 at Middletown will be broadcast on WCNX-AM (1710) radio and online at WCNXradio.com. … Farmington’s first eight games are at night. The final two games at South Windsor and home against Plainville on Thanksgiving morning (for the Olde Canal Cup) will during the day.
Coach: Chris Machol, 8th year (41-31)
Last year: 4-6, 1-4 CCC Division 2 East
Home field: George T. Bennett Field
Last championship: 1999 Nutmeg Conference
Last playoff berth: 2013, Class L quarterfinals
Last winning season: 2013, 9-2
Farmington 2016 schedule
Friday, Sept. 9: at Wethersfield, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16: BRISTOL EASTERN, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23: E.O. SMITH*, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30: at Windsor*, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7: BRISTOL CENTRAL, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 21: at Middletown*, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 28: at Maloney, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 4: HARTFORD PUBLIC*, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12: at South Windsor*, 11 a.m.
Thursday, Nov. 24: PLAINVILLE, 10 a.m.
*CCC Div. II East game