High school football: Layton tasked with stopping very efficient Herriman in playoff opener
5A high school football preview: Layton at Herriman
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
HERRIMAN — Herriman is new to 5A play, but it’s easily gone unnoticed to observers used to the football program’s immediate success.
Since its first year of existence, in 2010, the Mustangs have proved competitive — qualifying for the state playoffs every season. The team jumped from 4A to 5A prior to the 2013 season, and while many programs struggle to adjust to a higher classification, Herriman took it in stride.
“It’s not something we’ve thought about much, if at all, to be honest,” said Herriman coach Dustin Pearce. “We’re still so new as a program still that making a jump to 5A — we just took it in stride, I guess. We’ve been able to compete here at Herriman since we started, and competing in 5A is something we expected.”
Herriman finished the season in a four-way tie atop a tough Region 4 with Lone Peak, Riverton and Pleasant Grove. Due to a mathematical equation that few can understand, the Mustangs were rewarded a No. 1 seed and will host Layton in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
The Lancers enter the playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of Region 1 following two tough losses to region champion Davis and Northridge, which finished third in region.
“It’s tough ending the season that way, but those were two very good teams and I’m proud of how our team competed and improved throughout the year,” said Layton coach Jim Batchelor. “I really feel we’ve gotten better with each week and that we’ll enter the playoffs playing the best we have all season, which is obviously what you want.”
Layton will certainly need to be at its best to beat a big and physical Herriman team.
“There’s nothing fancy with what Herriman does — especially on offense. They just sort of say, ‘here it is, now stop it,’ and it’s very, very hard to stop from what we’ve seen,” Batchelor observed. “They run the ball as well as anyone in the state and that line — those boys are big, physical, and will be a huge challenge to go against.”
The Mustangs feature standout running back Brandon Farmer, who leads the team with 1,430 yards rushing on a nine yards per rush average.
“Brandon Farmer has been a pleasure to coach and is someone we’ve depended heavily on all season,” Pearce said. “He’s a player who makes plays when we need him to and responds to every situation.”
While Farmer gets the stats, it’s the Mustang offensive line that paves the way.
“Their front is the key to everything they do,” Batchelor said. “They just line up and push teams around and make them go where they want from what I’ve seen.”
Herriman will look to improve on defense and special teams play coming off a tough 42-41 loss to Pleasant Grove.
“We started out the year running a spread offense, but we’ve gone more toward I-formation,” Batchelor said. “We just learned over time that running tight formations fit our personnel better, and it’s worked out well.”
Defensively the team is led by Jacob Shaw along the defensive front and Jaramillo in the defensive backfield.
Batchelor believes his team is primed for a first-round upset victory if it can simply limit mistakes and turnovers.
“I think we can play with anybody if we take care of the football,” he said. “Turnovers have killed us this year, but when we’ve cut down on mistakes we’ve competed very well, and I expect us to play well against a very tough Herriman team.”