Farmington Football Poised To Contend
FARMINGTON FOOTBALL POISED TO CONTEND
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.