22 August 2013

Football: A title to defend

Mark Froehling 78-52 record at FHS
Farmington enters the final year in the life of the Missota Conference as defending football champion, a title it wants to keep.

The Tigers finished 7-3 overall last season, losing to northern neighbor Apple Valley in the finals of the section tournament.

"As defending co-conference champions with several returning starters we expect to be a competitive team in the Missota again," coach Mark Froehling said. "There are some top quality teams in our new section and our position there remains to be seen."

Farmington has been bumped up to Class 6A for the post-season, a distinction that goes with bring one of the largest 32 schools in the state (by Minnesota High School League rules).

With 15 of 22 starters returning Froehling has reason to be optimistic. Eight veterans return on offense and seven more are back on other side of the ball. An eighth defensive starter, cornerback Jack Erickson, has been lost for the season to injury.

"The  development of new starters on offense who are replacing players at quarterback, running back and the offensive line will be important," Froehling said, "and like most teams, staying healthy is important because of a lack of depth at several positions."

Offensive starters returning include linemen Josh Patterson and Ryan Gowen; tight end CJ Wynings, wide receivers Mac Bassett, Johnny Dittman, Jordan DeCroock and Tyler VanWinkle and running back Derek Klotter. Noah Kary should see action out of the backfield and Alex Robinson is a leading candidate for one of the offensive lineman positions.

WR Mac Bassett led the team in receptions in 2012 (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Bassett and Dittman each received all-conference honorable mention last season.

VanWinkle will be making the biggest adjustment, going from catching the ball to handing it off and throwing it.

"This should allow for some big play potential," Froehling said  of the heir apparent to all-conference quarterback Darren Beenken spot under center.

Froehling said his 14th team at Farmington will be athletic and possess good team speed as witnessed by the depth in the talented receiving corps. With placekicker Reid Taubenheim, the school record holder for field goals, back in the mix after suffering a hip injury late last season, special teams play should also be a plus.

"We will be young on the offensive line so we'll need to see improvement as the season progresses," he said. "At several of those positions our size could also cause some match-up problems."

All-Missota LB Mason Auge (photo by J. Lindquist)
Leading the defensive returnees are a pair of all-Missota performers, linebacker Mason Auge and lineman John LeBlond. Other returning starters include linebackers Nick Ruark and Godfrey Mpetey and defensive backs Mason Gaylord, Kevin Clifton and Eli Rockett

Linemen Nick Meyer and Tanner Thode and linebacker Michael Thompson should also see defensive playing time for the Tigers.

Froehling returns all of his veteran coaching staff: Gary Burr, Pat Hudak, Glenn Mogensen, Shane Wyandt, Lew Miskowicz, Jon Lund,  Jon Malin nad Mike Winters.

Brent Grengs, Brent Mahlstedt, Chad Olson and Tharen Johnson man the ninth grade coaching positions with Paul Ahrenholz, Jeff Stulz, Lance Walsten, Michael Schommer, Shawn Anderson, Mark Pickar, Nick Davis, Jacob Bauer, Bryan Buesgens and Shane Trego handling the middle school coaching chores.

The Tigers kick off their 2013 season Friday, August 30, with a non-conference road contest at River Falls (Wisconsin). Their first conference game is the following week against Northfield for the Tractor Trophy.

John LeBlond had team-leading 4 sacks in 2012 (photo by Jim Lindquist)