FARMINGTON — A glance at Farmington High’s football statistics will reveal a few things.
The Phoenix has a balanced offense, a 9-1 record and one of the top defenses in the 5A classification.
And a big part of the defense is the tall, lanky, redheaded rugby player playing out of position who’s probably smiling in the middle of a play.
Brayden Wilson looks like a receiver or maybe a tight end on first glance. Nope.
From the defensive line spot, Wilson leads the team with 101 total tackles through 10 games. It’s not uncommon to see him in the backfield — 19 tackles-for-loss including 11 sacks — or eight yards up the field making a tackle on a running back.
It’s just slightly uncommon to see someone 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds make that large of an impact at defensive line, let alone play there.
“Use every move in the book. It’s just fun, you gotta work with you’re given and if it’s D-tackle, it’s D-tackle. If they put me as a safety, hell I’ll play safety if they need me to. There was one time where our corner was missing on a play, so I hopped in. Granted, they called a timeout,” Wilson said.
Put it this way, last week’s stat line of six tackles and two tackles-for-loss in the 30-0 shutout playoff win over Bonneville was the lowest amount of tackles Wilson’s made in a game all season.
“I’m a defensive end playing defensive tackle, so I gotta use my specialities there and I know my advantages, I know my disadvantages,” Wilson said after the Oct. 4 region win at Bonneville.
Where there’s the size disadvantage, Wilson has a speed advantage against offensive linemen and sometimes even running backs. That’s why he can get outside the tackles so fast and blow up other teams’ plays before they reach the line of scrimmage.
He loves contact sports, hence why he fell in love with rugby after watching the movie “Forever Strong.” Wilson plays for the Utah EIRA rugby team, and rugby has seen him travel to Ireland, France and, this December, to Dubai.
Football-wise, Wilson has two scholarship offers presently from the University of Idaho and Dixie State, with a handful of other schools “interested.”
“The biggest thing about him is he has so much fun, you won’t find somebody that’s laughing more and having such a great time. To be a D-tackle, you’re in the trenches, you’re getting cut, you’re getting beat up constantly and he’s doing that laughing and trying to have conversations with the guys that are, like, literally trying to cause him physical pain,” Coats said.
In a perfect world, Wilson’s playing at defensive end and those gaudy numbers would be a little more gaudy.
Coats has to tell college coaches who are interested that Wilson is playing defensive tackle because of the needs of the team, which had a couple personnel problems at D-line, necessitating Wilson move inside.
It hasn’t been a hindrance.
“He hasn’t even reached his full potential. He has so much more muscle that he could put on that would make him just unstoppable. His desire to get things done is — it’s just what makes him so dominant,” Coats said.
The defense as a whole touts 71 tackles-for-loss, 35 sacks and 16 interceptions as a big reason why it allows just 13.6 points per game.
“Our line’s putting pressure on, our linebackers are filling gaps, when it’s a pass, all the backers, safeties and corners are getting deep. They’re doing their jobs, we’re all doing our jobs and it all comes together,” Wilson said.
It’s that defense that will be under the microscope Friday in the 5A state quarterfinals when the Phoenix hosts high-scoring Lehi.
Win that game, and FHS books a trip to its first state semifinal in just two seasons of school history, giving the Phoenix a chance at an elusive football state title for Davis County schools (Davis High in 2004 was the last time a Davis or Weber County team won a state football title in a wide-open 5A field this year.
Could a second-year school really go to the semifinals? It’s been done plenty of times before by Fremont (1995), Syracuse (2008) and as recently as 2014 (Corner Canyon) and 2017 (Skyridge).
(11) Lehi at (3) Farmington, 4 p.m.
As far as the task at hand, Farmington needs to be extra careful with the ball because not only does Lehi average 37 points per game on offense and have more dynamic skill players than most teams, but the Pioneers have forced 36 turnovers in 12 games on defense.
FHS can take a page out of Woods Cross’ book from last week as the Wildcats held Lehi to 21 points, doing so by holding the Pioneers to 3.8 yards per carry, forcing a season-high five punts and by running noticeably more offensive plays (62-51).
(8) Syracuse at (1) Corner Canyon, 4 p.m.
Syracuse has to face a team that has won 24 games in a row, has two Division I commits on defense, an Ivy League recruit at quarterback, a Division I commit at offensive line, an offense that puts up 45.6 points per game, a defense that has 42 sacks and a team whose average margin of victory in Region 4 games (undoubtedly the best region in the state) was 28.2 points.
So what does Syracuse (9-2) have to lose? The Titans are riding high after a rare win by a Region 1 team over a Region 4 team last week when they beat Pleasant Grove. Might that translate into the perfect performance that beating Corner Canyon requires?
Earlier this year though, Lone Peak was a couple minutes away from beating CCHS, so a blueprint exists on how to at least take a 10-point lead on the Chargers late into the fourth quarter.
3A semifinal: (5) Morgan vs. (1) North Sanpete
This is a rematch of last year’s 3A semifinal that North Sanpete won 23-15. The Trojans were beset by turnovers in that game and still kept it close.
Morgan’s defense allows 9.4 points per game with a particular emphasis stopping the run, creating lots of short fields that its offense takes full advantage of.
NS’s strength is a defense that allows 10.2 points per game with 31 sacks and 32 turnovers forced.
The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Mountain View High School in Orem.