Undefeated at 4-0, the Farmington Scorpions will welcome a true test against a Durango Demons team motivated by a pair of consecutive narrow losses to elite foes.
Colorado’s Class 3A No. 10 Durango (1-2) will meet New Mexico’s Class 5A No. 5 Farmington in a big interstate high school football showdown at 7 p.m. Friday inside Hutchison Stadium in Farmington.
A red-hot Scorpions team is eager to welcome the Demons to their home stadium after last year’s 44-0 loss to the Demons in Durango.
“They’re a really good team. They’ve come a long way from last year,” DHS head coach David Vogt said. “We put our schedule together because we want to be battle-tested and ready to go for league. It’s great this year that all the teams we have played have a winning record. It’s good competition for us.”
The Demons rolled 47-0 past Pagosa Springs in the season opener but fell to Class 3A No. 2 Palisade 25-18 at home before last week’s 14-13 road loss to Class 4A No. 3 Montrose. Farmington head coach Jeff Dalton knows the Demons will be eager to get back in the win column and have only been sharpened by going against top-ranked opponents.
“It’s a great opportunity for us right now to kind of find out where we stack up,” Dalton said. “Not a lot of New Mexico teams know much about Durango, but we do. We know they’re as good as anyone in our classification. It’s a good measuring stick for us. We know we’ll face adversity against Durango, and we have to find out how we’re gonna handle that stuff – getting punched in the mouth and having to respond.”
The Demons have labored defensively against elite running teams the last two weeks. This week, they’ll face a pass-happy Scorpions offense led by junior quarterback Caleb Carrillo, who already has 1,268 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions in four games. He has also rushed for 230 yards and five more touchdowns. Containing Carrillo is the key to success for the Demons.
“It’s refreshing. It fits into what our scheme is defensively,” Vogt said of the contrast this week preparing for a pass attack rather than the option run game. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to really run our stuff, and the kids are excited about that.”
Dalton has been impressed with Carrillo in the passing game. He is surrounded by weapons, including sophomore receiver Chance Carrillo, who has 469 yards and six touchdowns on 26 receptions. Max Montoya also has three touchdown grabs, while Thomas Montoya has 400 receiving yards and two touchdowns on a team-high 31 receptions. Thomas Montoya is also the Scorps’ leading rusher with 358 yards and six touchdowns on 50 carries.
“We’re playing a lot better than the last two years, that’s for sure,” Dalton said. “Caleb grew so much over the summer, and he’s always been a good athlete. The thing allowing him to put up big numbers this year is that he has a great supporting cast around him that he doesn’t take for granted. He loves to distribute balls to as many guys as he can, and he can throw it and let those guys make him look good.”
Dalton is prepared for the pass game of the Durango Demons and junior quarterback Jordan Woolverton, who has thrown for 439 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions while he has completed 65% of his passes this season. Woolverton took some hard hits last season against Farmington, but the Demons had no trouble in the shutout win.
“Jordan is a scary player to prepare for,” Dalton said. “He can hurt you in a lot of ways. We’re fortunate we didn’t play him when he was a (freshman). We’ve had our eye on him for a long time, and I imagine he’s one of the best quarterbacks in Colorado high school football. It’s fun to go against him and see where we stack up against a powerful offense.”
Part of that powerful offense is running back Everett Howland. The senior has 379 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season on only 29 carries. Woolverton also has 117 rushing yards and three touchdowns of his own.
“Farmington’s defense is going to blitz somebody every down,” Vogt said. “They’ve got a huge roster and have two platoons, so they will have fresh kids.”
Dalton does not have a starter playing on both sides of the ball. While he said that may not mean that his best 11 players are always on the field, he believes it will help the Scorpions as the season goes on and his ability to keep kids healthy. Durango, meanwhile, is constantly substituting players in and out who play in all three phases of the game.
“Durango is always really physical, and I think it’s because of those good Colorado teams they play,” Dalton said. “Durango is well-coached enough that they are ready to play any style and always have a scheme ready to go. They love to hit, and that’s what we’re prepared for.”
Since 2004, Durango has played Farmington 13 times and won 11 of those meetings, including 2013 when Farmington lost once all year en route to a New Mexico state championship. Only three times since 2004 have those games been decided by one score.
Durango’s defense has allowed 13 points per game while its offense has scored 26 per game. Farmington has scored almost 48 points per game and allowed nearly 28. Friday’s game will come down to which team is allowed to play its style of game. Both teams may like a shootout on offense, but it’s Durango’s defense that is more well equipped for a slugfest.
“Our season is kind of dependent on this game,” Vogt said. “You lose three games and it’s not going to look good at playoffs, especially if we happen to lose one later in league. It’s playoff time for us, and we need to take it as such.”