Just three short months ago, before the high school football season started, the Farmington Phoenix were picked by coaches in the Deseret News poll to finish fifth in what was fixing to be a tough Region 1.

Though Region 1 would, in fact, end up being one of the state’s toughest regions from top to bottom, the Phoenix, however, would not end up finishing fifth place amongst 6A’s northernmost teams. 

With a 24-14 win over Syracuse Wednesday night, the Phoenix closed out their regular season with a second-place finish in Region 1, just one game behind the Weber Warriors —who came into the season picked to finish first. The win was Farmington’s sixth straight victory after the team started the season 1-3.

Farmington head coach Daniel Coats was praiseworthy of his team for not just exceeding expectations but doing so in what wound up being a very balanced region.

“Region 1, to me, is a powerhouse,” Coats said. “It really could’ve turned into anybody’s region. There were outrageously close games throughout the year — we were in a ton of them — and a play or two here or there and we easily could’ve ended up finishing in the fifth spot. Super happy where we finished though we would’ve liked that No. 1 spot.”

The defense showed out against a Jake Hopkins-led Syracuse attack, helping the Phoenix secure the second-place finish. The defense forced four Titans interceptions, two of which were snagged by junior Luke Hansen.

“Tons of turnovers tonight and that’s what wins games, Our defense is coming out here game after game, causing turnovers and that’s what’s putting our offense in good positions to drive down and score. So yeah, our defense has been ballin’.” — Farmington running back Kenyon Brown

Hansens’s last pick was a red-zone interception that iced the game with under a minute to play as the Syracuse offense attempted to make a final surge.

Coats, a tight end in his playing years and a self-proclaimed offensive-minded coach, jokingly said it’s hard for him to peg the defensive unit as the heart and soul of the team, but that they’re pretty darn close.

“Man, our defense saves our bacon a ton,” Coats said. “They love the ‘put the game on our shoulders’ kind of position. They all love their roles and do them to a ‘T.’ I hate to say it, as an offensive guy, but our defense is our backbone and they do so many amazing things.”

The defensive performance lightened the load on a Farmington offense that struggled to move the ball consistently but made enough plays to secure a two-possession victory. 

Senior running back Kenyon Brown — who had taken on a larger load since the season ending injury to backfield mate Boston Reinhold — was often at the heart of the success that Farmington’s offense was able to find. Brown said that the defense and their ability to force numerous turnovers lightened the load for an offense that couldn’t seem to find rhythm against a stout Syracuse defensive front.

“Tons of turnovers tonight and that’s what wins games,” Brown said. “Our defense is coming out here game after game, causing turnovers and that’s what’s putting our offense in good positions to drive down and score. So yeah, our defense has been ballin’.”

On what was senior night for Farmington, Brown scored all three touchdowns for the Phoenix, including a 41-yard run with just over to five minutes to play in the fourth quarter that gave his team a 17-point cushion they would need to stave off the Syracuse comeback attempts. 

Brown got emotional after the game when asked what it meant to him to have the type of performance he had during a special night for him and the Farmington seniors.

“Man, I started getting teary-eyed,” Brown said. “It’s me and my boys’ last game in the (regular) season. I don’t want to end. I love this game so much.”

Despite struggling with injuries to many of its key players, Farmington hasn’t skipped a beat thanks to players like Brown who haven’t hesitated to do what the team needed them to do to win—a key reason for Farmington’s 6-game win streak.

“Unfortunately we’ve got a lot of guys injured and banged up, but the next guy keeps stepping up without a flinch,” Coats said. “We’re asking multiple guys to do multiple things and they’re doing it like pros.”

Coats said his team will now welcome whatever break they may get before their playoff campaign kicks off, both to heal up and work on generating a more consistent offensive attack.

“Our offense is living and dying on big plays right now and we’ve got to get back to just moving the chains,” Coats said while adding that he’s confident they’ll figure things out. “But we’ve definitely got to heal up and get all of our banged up guys back and then we’ve just got to come back and do what we do.”