Farmington football preview: Phoenix projecting itself as the Region 1 favorite
FARMINGTON — Farmington High’s football team isn’t sanitizing its language when it comes to what it thinks will happen in this year’s Region 1 race.
The Phoenix is very direct.
“I tell our guys I expect us to win it,” fifth-year head coach Daniel Coats said.
He knows the region will be a tough battle. Syracuse brings back most of its team. So does Layton. Davis has a potent offensive combo. Weber has the winning way.
“But the expectation is we’re going to do what we do. There are going to be good games — we’re not going to blow anybody out by any means, but we’re gonna come out on top,” Coats said.
So sets the stage for 2022, when the Phoenix will aim for its first Region 1 title (FHS won Region 5 in 2019) with a team of mostly returning starters that went 8-4 last year.
Farmington is no doubt one of the favorites in Region 1.
The Phoenix has the best running back in the region, senior Boston Reinhold; a tight end who’s led the team in receiving for two years, Mitch Nielsen; and a quarterback about to enter his third year starting, Easton Wight.
Reinhold rushed for 726 yards and eight touchdowns before a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game of the year. Nielsen had 41 catches for 729 yards and six touchdowns. Wight completed 59.8% of his passes with 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and, one would assume, lots of room to improve.
“They’re talented. I’m blessed to have talented kids, that’s the easy part. It’s getting them to take that talent and push it to the max for someone else, for a teammate, to use that talent of agility and quickness to throw a good block, to run down a defender from the back side, things like that,” Coats said.
Seven starters return on offense and six return on defense, led by middle linebacker Luke Hansen, lineman Kainoa Jones and lineman Jed Judkins. Hansen led the team with 73 tackles. Jones had 61 with four sacks. Judkins made 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Not everyone is returning. Farmington, like a few other schools in Northern Utah, lost three starters to transfer: lineman Kai Sevy (Corner Canyon), receiver Tyson Elkins (Davis) and receiver Charlie Holbrook (West).
The transfers, plus some early injuries, have messed with the depth a little bit and led Hansen to say that being in shape will be especially important for FHS.
“Yeah we’re deep, but we’re not as deep as we were last year because we’ve got guys playing both ways. … We gotta stay in shape and be ready to play anywhere,” Hansen said.
Maybe most important to the team’s success last year and this year is team chemistry, specifically a team camping/football trip somewhere a couple of hours away where the players — coaches take players’ cellphones away — can get to know each other better.
Last year, the team went to Mayfield (halfway between Manti and Salina). This year, the team’s trip is in Altamont, just south of the Uinta Mountains in Duchesne County.
Last year’s trip was a resounding success.
“I remember a couple of dudes I didn’t even really know and now they’re some of my best friends. It’s a football camp, football trip, but I think the biggest thing is just getting around all the guys that you’re maybe not typically as close with or hang out with outside of football, and that just brings the whole thing together,” Reinhold said.
Reinhold felt last year’s group already had a lot of team chemistry. This year’s team might be better in that regard, he thinks.
“This year, I feel like we’re more of a team and I feel like that’s a good thing we can take away from last year, just don’t go astray from one another and always pick each other up, which I feel like we’re going to be 10 times better at, even though we were good at it last year,” Reinhold said.
Farmington did a lot of good things last year. Coats felt like the team carried itself like an underdog and it helped them go 8-4. Even though he’s projecting a “we’re winning this thing” attitude, he simultaneously wants the team to stay grounded and motivated.
“This year, I want them to still be hungry, to know we still haven’t arrived. We still didn’t even win region; we don’t really have anything to hang our hats on yet,” Coats said.
Outwardly, anyway, Farmington’s not shying away from its goal of winning the region.
“Syracuse is going to be good, but we already proved we can beat them so I don’t know what they think they have that they can take us. But we’re going to take region. Obviously, there’s other teams in there, but yeah, we’re going to take it,” Hansen said.
Farmington’s certainly projecting a ton of confidence, but it’s not unfounded.
Running back Reinhold’s season was cut short in 2021 when he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee against Roy. It interrupted what was surely about to be a 1,000-yard rushing year.
How’s his knee ahead of the 2022 season?
“I’m back. We’re good. 100%”
FACTS and FIGURES
2021 season: 8-4, 5-1 Region 1. Farmington lost its region opener last year at Weber 38-35, and it turns out that was the Region 1 title game. The Phoenix then won seven games in a row before losing in the quarterfinals 52-7 at Skyridge.
2022 strength of schedule: 53-60 (.469). Like many teams, the four nonregion games are tough and winnable. They’re maybe all winnable and Farmington plausibly could be 3-1 or 4-0 in nonregion games this year depending on injuries, etc.
Players to watch: Boston Reinhold (RB), Luke Hansen (LB), Easton Wight (QB), Mitch Nielsen (TE), Kainoa Jones (DL), Jed Judkins (DE)
Returning starters: 7 offense, 6 defense
Strength/Weakness: Skill players/Offensive line and size
Before Reinhold missed the season with a knee injury, he was averaging 103.7 rushing yards per game on 6.2 yards per carry. He has 14 career rushing touchdowns.
Farmington is 3-0 against Syracuse (and also Woods Cross).
It looks like the Phoenix’s annual nonregion rival might be Bountiful as the teams have played each season since Farmington opened in 2018 (this will be the teams’ fifth meeting and the series is tied 2-2).
In even years, Farmington has a combined record of 4-18 with two seasons of 2-9. In odd years, it has a combined 16-7 record with two eight-win seasons.
All games 7 p.m.
Aug. 12: at Pleasant Grove
Aug. 19: Bountiful
Aug. 26: at Maple Mountain
Thursday, Sept. 1: Weber*^
Sept. 9: at Clearfield*
Sept. 16: Layton*
Sept. 23: Roy
Sept. 30: at Davis*
Thursday, Oct. 6: Fremont*
Wednesday, Oct. 12: at Syracuse*&
* — Denotes Region 1 game
^ — TV broadcast by KJZZ-TV
& — Could be selected for TV broadcast by KJZZ-TV
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at email@example.com, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.