Football: Farmer ushers Pearland into new era
When James Farmer was thrust into the role as head football coach at Pearland this summer, it was a shock to the system.
Of course, that’s meant in the best sense of the phrase.
Farmer, no stranger to Pearland surroundings, had served as one of longtime head coach Tony Heath’s right-hand men. But when Heath unexpectedly announced his retirement, the job was offered to Farmer, who gladly accepted.
That acceptance was made much easier by the fact that the Oilers are picked by most publications to win District 23-6A this season.
“There’s no team in this district you can overlook – nor should you,” Farmer said. “Everybody in this district can win it, and I’m certainly not saying we’ll be district champs. It’s something we have to earn.”
Farmer, who served as the team’s defensive coordinator, certainly has a team with the tools to make a run at a league crown.
On defense, Pearland is blessed with a solid foundation which includes noseguard Pierce Tupa, ends Mason Cook and Gilbert Abeneme and linebackers Michael Moore, Mitchell Johnson, Colton Johnson and DeAntoine Carter.
In the secondary, Pearland gets help from Johnny Tamayo, David Wilson, Auston Deason and Trey Glasco.
Abeneme, a highly-touted NCAA Division I recruit, should be a force in the line while the equally talented Mitchell Johnson leads an aggressive linebacking crew.
“Abeneme is long, athletic, and takes up a lot of space,” Farmer said. “We’ll utilize him in quite a bit of packages. He’s about 6-3, 240 and can move.
“We’re missing that big plug we had in the middle last year in Jordan Crawford, but Pierce had a good season last year, and he’ll be the guy we’re counting on at nose.
“Garrett Worrell is a sophomore who could help us at end, allowing us to move some guys around. We’ll adjust as the season goes along, but coach (Patrick) Sanders has taken over that role, and I think we can be an effective three-man or four-man front.”
Pearland’s linebacking corps could be as strong as its defensive line, giving the Oilers an imposing front seven.
“Mitchell is in his third year on varsity, and Mike Moore came up last year and played well in two playoff games,” Farmer said. “We’ll be younger this year, but I think we’ll be faster. We also have another couple of young guys I feel comfortable with.”
While boasting some experience, the Oiler secondary may come under the microscope moreso than any area of the defense.
“Deason and Glasco are both pretty solid,” Farmer said. “We’ve got some smart guys in the secondary, but we have to get more physical.
“Right now, I’ll take being smart over physical.”
Offensively, the Oilers could be a force to be reckoned with if everything pans out.
Center Sincere Haynesworth along with Dawson Murdock and Jaret Porterfield are definite starters in the line, and all are juniors. Other front-runners for starting positions are junior Braydon McKinney and senior Seth Lewis.
“All the guys are bigger, and Haynesworth, Murdock and Porterfield have all been working really hard,” Farmer said. “You don’t often have juniors leading your offensive line, but those guys are the core of it.
“All of the linemen have been working their tails off this summer.”
Pearland’s line will be comforted to know that a slew of talented running backs are at hand.
Junior Jaelin Benefield and senior Evan Burgess give the Oilers a potent one-two punch while Devin Linton adds quality depth.
“Benefield and Burgess will carry the load and split time there,” Farmer said. “We’re also going to have some fullback kids back there, too. Zac Salinas, a sophomore, and Spencer Smith, are guys that will help us.
“Colton Johnson may even play some fullback.”
Pearland’s receiving corps will feature a host of players including Adam Tillman, Trent Deshotel, Clayton Broeder, Brett White and Byron Woodard.
Running the show under center and in the shotgun will be junior quarterback Austin Landry.
“He’s a very athletic kid,” Farmer said. “When (Connor) Blumrick went down last year, he stepped in and held his own, and we expect him to do great things this year.
“He’s a better runner this year and his passing has improved. He does well in the huddle, and we’ve worked with him on being a more vocal quarterback.”
When Pearland goes to a power set, tight end candidates Walter Maeker and Cameron Boegler will occupy the line.
“We hope to show a little bit of everything on offense, but we’ll go with what works,” Farmer said. “Depth, I think, will be a strength. I feel good with our third guy at every position.
“Team speed…we’ll be able to compete. Cinsai Pinkston is another wide receiver that can go.”
Jacob Keller returns at kicker while the Oiler staff is still searching for a punter.
Farmer, meanwhile, is still trying to get used to the non-coaching aspect of running a football team.
“It’s pretty hectic,” he said. “The bullets keep flying. I always wondered where Tony was all those times we were in meetings and now I know.
“There’s a lot to this job, but I’m glad to have it. We’re all going to work hard and be the best football team we can be. We’ve got a lot of good kids and we’ll do our best to make the most of it.”