The area’s most dominant football player does not even like to hit.
OK, that might not exactly be fair.
Edgerton High senior Reed Farrington will do whatever it takes to open up a hole for the Crimson Tide’s array of offensive weapons. And he is hardly afraid to lower his pads to stuff an opposing running back attempting to run the ball between the tackles.
But Farrington also says he does not walk onto a football field with visions of doling out punishment.
“I just don’t really like hitting kids real hard,” Farrington said in a recent interview following Edgerton’s 9-2 season that included a share of the Rock Valley Conference championship. “I’m not out to hurt kids. I’ve never been that type of kid. It doesn’t really affect the way I play. Football is a lot of contact, so it’s just kind of a love-hate thing.”
Like the contact or not, opponents on both sides of the ball felt the pain when they went up against Farrington this season.
He was named first-team all-state by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association as both an offensive and defensive lineman. And he is The Gazette’s all-area high school football player of the year.
“I think the comparisons came up to—and maybe he’s not quite as dominant—but Travis Frederick,” Walworth Big Foot coach Mike Welden said, referencing the former Chiefs standout now playing center for the Dallas Cowboys. “He could literally take over a game offensively and defensively. That’s hard to do sometimes from an offensive and defensive line position, but he did it.
“Your run game was almost negated inside if you ran between the tackles. And offensively, there were some nice pieces around him, but he could cave down a side any time he wanted.
“A lot of coaches, including myself, have a lot of respect for him.”
Farrington came to two realizations after his sophomore year.
First of all, Edgerton was just 3-15 during his freshman and sophomore seasons, and he and the fellow Crimson Tide upperclassmen set out to restore order to a program that had gone to the playoffs 21 times, including nine times in 17 years.
“I was sick of losing,” Farrington said. “I wanted to bring back some spirit and edge to our football program—and it wasn’t just me but my team.
“We just went out and worked our butts off, because we wanted to become a winning team and to win a lot.”
Consider those boxes checked.
Edgerton went 10-2 and reached the WIAA Division 4 state quarterfinals a year ago, when Farrington was also an all-area selection. And the Tide reached the second round of the playoffs again this year.
The conference championship, thanks to an 8-1 mark, was Farrington’s ultimate team goal.
Individually, an Edgerton assistant also helped him realize following his sophomore year that there could be a future in college football.
“I never thought I’d go anywhere past high school for education,” Farrington said. “I remember after my sophomore year, Coach (Jon) DuPuis, after our last game, he told me if I wanted to play at the next level, it was possible. It stuck with me.
“I just feel like if anyone has a goal, it’s achievable. You’re the only person who can stop you.”
And with that mentality, Farrington set out to work even harder. He was honorable mention all-state and all-region as a defensive lineman as a junior.
Last spring, he took a step back from playing baseball and ramped up his workouts at Athlete X Factory in Janesville. He worked alongside Janesville Craig graduate Keeanu Benton, last year’s all-area player of the year who is enjoying a solid season playing as a true freshman defensive tackle for the University of Wisconsin.
“I felt like I needed to focus on football and being the best player I can,” Farrington said. “So I went to Athlete X Factory, and Brad Fitzke really just made me a better athlete. I can’t thank him enough for the time and effort he put in.
“I worked out with Keeanu a lot. He’s a great kid and I loved that. We were similar in strength, and it was just really fun to work out with him.”
Benton and Farrington also share a wrestling background, which certainly helped them on the football field. Farrington said he has hopes of reaching the WIAA state tournament in wrestling this winter.
For football, he added about 30 pounds of good weight in the offseason and by fall became a dominant figure for the Tide.
“He played his junior year at 250, and he was 285 this year,” Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said. “It was all strength. He went to the WFCA combine and put up 36 reps on the bench, which proved he had been working.
“He did everything he needed to do to put himself in position to have the year that he had. And he delivered.”
Defensively, Farrington finished with 45 tackles, with 22 of them coming for a loss of yardage. He sacked opposing quarterbacks four times.
Offensively, he paved the way for Edgerton’s running backs to average 226.5 yards per game and 6.9 yards per carry.
“You look at those stats, and that includes four running clocks and a game called at halftime,” Gregory said. “There weren’t many games where he was playing in the fourth quarter, but he still had 22 TFLs in basically three-quarters of a year.”
Farrington was one of just two players to be recognized as first-team all-state on both sides of the ball.
“I don’t have a specific position I like; I like both sides,” said Farrington, who has yet to decide on his future football and education plans. “I like just going against another guy on the line. They’re both very different.”
Regardless of which side of the ball he was on, he gave opposing coaches fits.
“He finishes plays, is explosive, extremely strong,” Beloit Turner coach Derek Diehl said. “He’s the real deal, one of the better kids I’ve seen on a high school football field. And a great kid on top of it. Anything he gets in life will be well-deserved.
“He’s a tough kid. He may be mild-mannered and doesn’t come across that way. But there’s nothing nice about him if you’re up against him on the field.”