Farmington High School will have to dig a little deeper, work a little harder, to win another Oakland Activities Association football championship in 2015.
The Falcons rolled over their first six Blue Division opponents last year and clinched the title with a 24-20 win over Birmingham Groves in Week 8.
Farmington remains stocked with talent, especially at the skill positions, and is prepared for its return to the rugged OAA White, according to coach John Bechtel.
“We like our balance,” he said. “We have outstanding running backs, and we have great speed on the outside.
“We have kids who can run and catch the football. Offensively, we’re excited. We think we’re going to be tough to defense.”
The Falcons expect to have a potent ground attack with seniors David Reese and Kyle Brunson as returning starters at fullback and tailback, respectively.
Reese, who begins his fourth season in the varsity lineup, has committed to Michigan, and Brunson is an NCAA Division I prospect, too.
While he had twice as many carries and yards, Brunson averaged 7.6 yards per rush and Reese 7.9. They scored 10 and six touchdowns, respectively.
“Those kids are great players,” Bechtel said. “You don’t see fullbacks who run 4.6 40s like (Reese) does. And when he gets there, he has fun blocking people. Brunson is smart and stays right behind him. They’re really an amazing tandem.”
Farmington has an outstanding multi-purpose player in senior Jakkar Jackson, who will play college ball at Central Michigan University.
In addition to giving Brunson a break at tailback, he’ll be a slot receiver, backup quarterback and occasional fullback. Jackson and Brunson are three-year starters.
“Offensively, he’s all over the place,” Bechtel said of Jackson. “We’ll use him in a lot of different ways, in a lot of different sets.”
Following the transfer of Dez Fitzpatrick, the Falcons also will rely on seniors Andre Sarfoh, Zeb Noble, Shahaan Turner and Justin Collins as wide and slot receivers.
Farmington has a new quarterback in sophomore JDrew McGoven, who accounted for more than 30 touchdowns while leading the JV team to a 7-2 record.
“He’s a talented kid,” Bechtel said. “He’s a football-aholic. He sees the field so well; he has great instincts. He’s a winner.”
While McGoven can scramble from the pocket and be an effective runner, that’s not part of his expected role.
“We don’t need him to be,” Bechtel said. “We have enough offense. We want him to run the offense and throw it when we have to pass.”
On the line, senior Andrew McLeod moves from center to tackle, and senior Philip Norris returns at left guard. Mack Daniels, Cameron Coffey and Philip Garrett will likely start, too.
“I think we’re pretty good,” Bechtel said. “We’ve got two big tackles. Mack Daniels is going to do a great job at center. Garrett had a bum knee; otherwise, he might have been a starter, too. Those kids come back with a lot of experience.”
Reese will anchor the defense at middle linebacker for the fourth straight season. Jackson, Brunson and Sarfoh returns in the secondary.
Farmington must replace its cornerbacks and much of its front seven. Collins and Turner have experience in the back as does Norris at strongside linebacker.
“The big offensive linemen are going to be the down guys,” Bechtel said. “They’re a little bit inexperienced, but they’ll get better and the people around them are excellent players.”
The Falcons, who open the season Aug. 27 at Royal Oak, expect to be contenders in the OAA White and playoff qualifiers.
“We have high expectations just like always,” Bechtel said. “We have some incredible players, and we expect them to play well.
“Everything is hopes and dreams right now. But we like our kids’ work ethics. We know they have great athletic ability.
“Now, we just need to play together as a team, eliminate mistakes, continue to play hard and good things will come.”