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Airedales close season at Farmington 11/2/21

Airedales close season at Farmington

By Kevin Taylor 

Alma Schools 


The offensive numbers are there.


But a blocked extra point (with the help of a missed call) and a defense that struggled on third down paints a different picture.


“Three weeks ago, we were one play from winning four of our last five (games), now we’ve played the two best teams in the league and it puts a real sour taste in your mouth; those are two really good teams (Vilonia and Greenbrier), and it messes with your psyche a little bit,” Alma coach Rusty Bush said. “I’ve got to do a better job of coming back and making them (players) understand we’ve got a good chance to beat a good football team.


“If our kids will go up and play with some confidence, I think that we can play with them.”


Farmington (7-2, 4-2) celebrates Senior Night on Friday against the (3-6, 2-4) Airedales. The upstart Cardinals opened 5A-West play with a stunning 36-35 come-from-behind win over Harrison that, even with a loss to the Airedales, has them locked in at the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and away from a first-round matchup with Pulaski Academy. 


“Farmington’s kind of what got us cranked up last year during COVID; we hadn’t won a game since week three (2020),” Bush said. “The first series, we came out and played really well at home. But I think this Farmington team is playing better than they were last year; coach (J.R. Eldridge) has gotten there and they’re playing with a whole lot more confidence.”


Junior quarterback Joe Trusty won’t finish the season as the league’s top-rated signal-caller. But Trusty’s throwing and running capabilities do have him in the top half, and it’s not close. 


Trusty needs just 155 passing yards to reach 2,000 for the season and become the seventh player in school history to do so. His 61.8 passer rating is currently fourth all-time in school history behind Brady Bradley (2011), Evan Burris (2013), and Gage Jensen (2012). 


“Joe has had a big season, no doubt,” Bush said. “He’s worked really hard to put himself into a good position of throwing the football. I feel like we’re really starting to throw and catch the football really well.”


Trusty’s completed 48 of 71 (67 percent) of his passes for 683 yards and eight touchdowns over his previous three games.


The junior standout has also rushed for 422 yards and five touchdowns. His primary target, Conner Stacy, has had a big season, too. 


Despite catching just two passes for 13 yards the week before, Stacy hauled in 12 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to Greenbrier. 


“He’s playing well, but mostly at 60 or 70 percent,” Bush said. “He spends the week rehabbing and trying to get back out there and be with this football team,” Bush said. “That’s just the Alma mentality; we’ve got a lot of football players like that. I think they’re all really tough kids; he just happens to be the guy that catches a lot of passes. 


“Hopefully we’ll get better, and guys like Matthew Schlegel and BriLee (White) can continue to catch the ball and take some pressure off him, too.”


Stacy’s big night moved him into the Top 3 for single-season receiving yards (1,084). Stacy’s 12 receptions in last week’s game tied him for the second-most in a single game with Brayden Johnson. 


Earlier this season, before nagging injuries began to take their toll, Stacy hauled in a record 15 receptions during the team’s win over Rogers Heritage. 


It’s been a nice year for White, too. 


The Airedales’ senior receiver has caught a team-high seven TD passes and has 29 receptions for 449 yards. 


“We saw that he had some ability, he just needed a little development, and that’s kind of where we are as a program,” Bush said.