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River Hawks optimistic, looking for that first big win of the season

Farmington QB Kevin Ives tries to escape from a pair of RHAM defenders during the 2021 season.

FARMINGTON – There have been few seasons like it since the River Hawks first began playing football on a regular basis at Farmington High in 1930.

Last fall, for the first time in more than 60 years, Farmington didn’t pick up a win dropping all 10 of their contests. The last time that had happened was in 1958 when the team was called the Indians and went 0-8.

It wasn’t a surprise. It was going to be a younger team for the River Hawks in 2021 but with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 season, the opportunity for younger players to pick up some experience at the freshman, junior varsity and varsity level was eliminated.

The River Hawks had seniors and juniors on the field last fall but a majority of the senior class was on the junior varsity squad in 2019 and the juniors were just freshmen. It was like starting from scratch.

“We never recovered from the haze of that off year,” Farmington head coach Chris Machol said. “We had only one starter on either side of the ball (last year). We had kids we had never seen before.”

But that is in the past.

Machol and the River Hawks hope to reap the benefits of last year’s season when the 2022 campaign kicks off this week. The River Hawks host South Windsor on Friday night at 6 p.m. at George Bennett Field and hope to snap an 11-game losing streak.

“It’s back to normal,” he said. “This preseason felt like 2019. It felt regular for the first time. It feels normal and its great. So much fun.”

A year ago, the River Hawks were very inexperienced. This year, they return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. Leading rusher Luke Watson (636 yards, 117 carries, 5 TDs) returns along with a pair of quarterbacks who both played a year ago – Kevin Ives and Cayden Markowitz.

Ives completed 105-of-190 passes for 956 yards and 12 TD passes while Markowitz completed 36-of-61 for 469 yards and two touchdown passes.

Machol, who is beginning his 14th season behind the bench, would love to establish the run but knows he will mix it up to keep the ball moving.

“The offensive line is starting to gell a bit and we’re to establish some consistency,” he said.

Linemen Gavin Diver and Nick DeBrito have looked sharp in training camp and should be playing both ways. Receiver Thomas Keough (21-168, 2 TDs) and Jahkai Veal (30-284, 3 TDs) have looked good in the preseason, too.

“We want to compete this year in every game with a chance to win,” Machol said.

After facing the Bobcats this weekend, Farmington will host rival Avon on Sept. 16, before heading to Southbury to take on Pomperaug in the River Hawks’ Connecticut Football Alliance game.

Farmington High
Head coach: Chris Machol, 14th season (58-65)
Last season: 0-10, 0-7 CCC Tier 3
Last winning season: 6-4 in 2018
Playoff appearances: 3 (1-3)
Last CIAC playoff appearance:
League championships: 
10. Most recent title: 1999 Nutmeg Conference
Opening day record: 
37-51-3. Most recent win: 2013, Farmington 26, Simsbury 14
Social media: Twitter — @Farmington_FB; Instagram:
Team website:
Of note: The River Hawks gave up a school record 407 points a year ago, eclipsing the previous record of 395 set in 2008. … The school record for losses is 14, when Farmington lost the final five games in 1990 and the first nine games of the 1991 season. … The River Hawks will be playing in the CCC Tier 3 for the second season. … Only two other men have coached Farmington longer than Machol. The late Bruce Wearne coached 16 years in three different tenures while Paul Maskery coached 14 years from 1969-82.

2022 Farmington schedule
Friday, Sept. 9: South Windsor, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16: Avon, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23: @Pomperaug, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1: @RHAM, 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7: @Bloomfield, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 21: E.O. Smith, 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 28: @Platt, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 4: Berlin, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12: Bristol Eastern, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 24: Plainville, 6:30 p.m.

2022 Central Connecticut Conference divisions (football)
Tier 1
(8 teams): Conard, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Hall, Maloney, Newington, Simsbury, Southington. Defending champions: Hall and Maloney 6-1

Tier 2 (8 teams): Bristol Central, Enfield, Middletown, New Britain, Platt, South Windsor, Wethersfield, Windsor. Defending champion: Windsor 7-0

Tier 3 (8 teams): Avon, Berlin, Bloomfield, Bristol Eastern, Farmington, Manchester, Plainville, RHAM. Defending champion: Bloomfield 7-0

Tier 4 (7 teams): East Catholic, E.O. Smith, Hartford Public, Lewis Mills, Northwest Catholic, Rocky Hill, Tolland. Defending champion: Avon 6-0

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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