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Prep football: Syracuse still powering forward, races past Farmington 42-3

By Chad Pritchett - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Sep 15, 2023

FARMINGTON — How quickly things can change in the tenuous world of high school football.

Just more than 11 months ago, Farmington was scrapping with Syracuse on the last day of the regular season for a share of the Region 1 title before eventually succumbing 40-20.

Now, with the same two squads matching up — this time in the league opener — Farmington was just trying to get into the win column. Meanwhile, the Titans have been cruising along at 4-1, only losing a week ago to the Corner Canyon juggernaut.

That first Phoenix win is going to have to wait for at least another week, however, as Syracuse kept to the script with a dominant 42-3 victory, spoiling Farmington’s homecoming game.

In fairness, Farmington’s foes sport a combined record of 26-5 after Friday night’s action. Two of its opponents are still unbeaten, while Corner Canyon has only lost to Bishop Gorman, a Nevada powerhouse that MaxPreps currently has ranked as the third-best team in the country. The same Corner Canyon, of course, to deal Syracuse its only defeat.

All of this is a drawn-out way of saying that the Phoenix have encountered a brutal schedule over the first half of the season.

The Titans, for their part, deserve credit for taking care of business against a hungry Farmington team, especially coming off a competitive, but ultimately disappointing, outcome against the Chargers.

“I was happy with the way the kids played from the start,” Syracuse coach Mike Knight said. “We knew we were the better team, we just had to come out and not beat ourselves and I felt like the kids did that.”

Syracuse jumped on the Phoenix out of the gate, which seemed to sap Farmington’s resolve in a penalty-marred game.

Farmington became the latest victim unable to contain the wideout combination of DJ Mayes and Shaun Blanton. Each caught a pair of first-half touchdowns as the Titans raced to a 35-3 halftime lead.

Syracuse took advantage of a shanked 8-yard Farmington punt, which gave it possession at the Phoenix 23 on its first possession. Blanton got things rolling first, hauling in a 21-yard offering from Jake Hopkins in the back corner of the end zone.

“It was just momentum the whole time,” Hopkins said. “Our defense got a stop and the offense came out and had a great drive. We only had like 30 or 40 yards to go and we put together a solid drive. That’s what set the tone for the game and that was our whole idea coming into this: tempo, getting up to the line, seeing the defense, getting the call and going.

“We came in humble and we did what we needed to do to come out with a ‘dub.'”

Things didn’t improve for Farmington on its ensuing possession. After a long kick return, the Phoenix had the ball at the Titan 24 but a bad snap rolled to midfield and was smothered by Syracuse’s Wyatt Pierce.

Six plays later, Blanton was in the end zone again, snaring a 5-yard quick out to put the Titans up 14-0 midway through the opening period.

Early in the second period, Mayes got in on the scoring action. Hopkins found a seam in the Farmington defense and delivered a 17-yard pass to Mayes for a touchdown.

“They really make my life easier,” Hopkins said about his wideouts. “They make me a better quarterback. Same with my line, they all make me better. I’m really grateful for my inside guys. They’re ballers. They block on our bubble screens and all of that stuff. I’m really glad that they’re my teammates, and they’re better people off the field.”

After the Titans smothered a fourth-and-14 attempt by the Phoenix at the Farmington 38, Hopkins delivered his fourth TD pass of the evening, rolling out and finding Marriner Richards.

With 31 seconds to play in the half, Farmington got on the scoreboard when Drew Romney split the uprights on a 28-yard field goal attempt. But any momentum was short-lived as Mayes returned the resulting kickoff 91 yards to the house.

“Last week was tough,” Hopkins added. “We knew it would be a tough game. We learned a lot about ourselves. We learned, like, we know we can compete with higher teams. We just need to fix our little mistakes. Corner Canyon is really good. We’re really happy we played them. We got to see one of the top teams in the state.”

The second half was much of the same as the Titans continued to control every facet of the game.

As the Syracuse defense continued to dominate — recording its third game with three or fewer points allowed — the offense tacked on an additional touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard Hopkins to Mayes connection.

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