Farmington Foot­ball Poised To Con­tend

FARMINGTON FOOT­BALL POISED TO CON­TEND

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Humphrey

FARMINGTON — Amer­i­cans tend to fancy an un­der­dog, and foot­ball fans seek­ing a dark-horse team poised to ex­ceed all ex­pec­ta­tions need not look far.

Just be­yond the Univer­sity of Arkansas Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium, past the 7A Fayet­teville Bull­dogs field­house, nes­tled just east of top ri­val, Prairie Grove, a 4A state semi­fi­nal­ist two years run­ning; roost the Farmington Car­di­nals.

Ad­ver­sity Aplenty

This is a school with­out a foot­ball con­fer­ence at the ju­nior var­sity and ju­nior high lev­els. Travel in­volved negated join­ing the 5A West at any level ex­cept var­sity. Other than Alma and Clarksville, Farmington ath­letes won’t see any league foot­ball teams un­til var­sity kick­off.

Foot­ball pre­dic­tors tend not to fore­see po­ten­tial fu­ture change be­cause of dark clouds hang­ing over from the past three sea­sons. Farmington grad­u­ated 13 se­niors from last year’s team that fin­ished 3-7 over­all and 2-5 in the 5A West. A va­ri­ety of skill play­ers who started at re­ceiver and full­back, de­fen­sive back and line­backer must be re­placed. Yet, the Car­di­nals lost only one start­ing of­fen­sive line­man and with a sea­son of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der their belts this year’s unit could be an un­ac­counted fac­tor in Farmington’s po­ten­tial rise.

Clouded Po­ten­tial

Farmington has strug­gled since be­ing bumped up to 5A four years ago. The Car­di­nals have flashed, get­ting a mercy-rule, 42-22, win over 7A Van Buren at home to com­plete a 3-0 non­con­fer­ence start in 2014. Then came a rash of in­juries and con­tro­ver­sial of­fi­ci­at­ing in a 42-26 Home­com­ing loss to Lit­tle Rock Chris­tian that sent the sea­son into a tail­spin. The next week, Farmington owned a slim lead in the wan­ing sec­onds of the first half at Green­brier and thought time ex­pired with a quar­ter­back sack only to have the Pan­thers awarded one more play which they scored on to take the lead. Green­brier in­ex­pli­ca­bly ran three plays in the fi­nal eight sec­onds and two of them were runs.

The Car­di­nals never re­cov­ered, win­ning just one 5A West game and ended the year 4-6, 1-6 5A West.

Bad Coin Flip

Farmington would have qual­i­fied for the play­offs in 2015, ex­cept for a coin toss which didn’t go their way. The Car­di­nals lost to Vilo­nia by two points and at Green­brier by a touch­down, then ral­lied to win their fi­nal two games; 42-21, over Maumelle and 28-25 against Har­ri­son to force a three-way tie for fourth in league stand­ings. They went 5-5 over­all and 3-4 in the 5A West.

Un­der-rated Coach

Com­pounded com­pli­ca­tions have di­min­ished the ca­pac­ity of ob­servers to re­gard vet­eran Farmington foot­ball head coach Mike Adams, who may be vastly un­der­rated. En­ter­ing the 2017 sea­son, Adams’ record, in­clud­ing stints at Charleston and Fayet­teville places him third among ac­tive coaches at 193-132-2. He didn’t get within 7 wins of the 200-win plateau through com­pla­cency. One thing re­mains un­changed through­out

chal­lenges, Adams’ vi­sion for each team to qual­ify for play­off com­pe­ti­tion and to be the best they can.

His teams have qual­i­fied for the state play­offs 21 of his 30 sea­sons as a head coach. Adams re­mem­bers the spring of 2003 when the Car­di­nals had only 23 play­ers in spring foot­ball. He has steadily cus­tom­ized the pro­gram.

“My first year at Farmington we were 3-7. The next 10 years in a row we made the post­sea­son,” Adams said. “We’ve been in 5A three years now. It’s been a strug­gle. Foot­ball is a num­bers game and a man­power game. We’re clos­ing that gap.”

Ray Of Hope

As many as 80 play­ers came out for foot­ball in the spring and a strong se­nior class may be rep­re­sented by more than 20 ath­letes. Fresh­men num­bered 48. The last two times he lost seven games in a sea­son 2003 and 2010, Adams’ teams have made the play­offs the next year. This year may be an­other turn­around.

“We haven’t had great records, but we feel we’ve been com­pet­i­tive in 5A,” Adams said. “It’s a process, we’re build­ing through and we’re close to be­ing suc­cess­ful.”

Suc­cess may hap­pen much sooner than crit­ics think pos­si­ble.

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Farmington line­men re­po­si­tion them­selves to block for a screen pass after let­ting Green­brier rush­ers chase the passer. Quar­ter­back Trey Wag­gle eyes tail­back Ja­van Jow­ers (right), who is wide open by de­sign, dur­ing a 2016 5A West game at Allen Hol­land Field.

GRA­HAM THOMAS NWA ME­DIA

Farmington head foot­ball coach Mike Adams is a his­tory teacher. He some­times likes to em­ploy a strat­egy sim­i­lar to Union Ad­mi­ral David Far­ragut, who see­ing navy war­ships pull back dur­ing the Aug. 5, 1864 Bat­tle of Mo­bile Bay, gave the or­der, “Damn the tor­pe­does (mines), full steam ahead.” Here, the Car­di­nals ex­e­cute a run­ning play dur­ing a July 13 scrim­mage against Gravette at Pan­ther Sta­dium in Siloam Springs with run­ning back Di­mariae Dono­van poised to take a hand­off.

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