POLACCA — Hopi High School’s football team is young, but quick.
Hopi High School Coach John Schimon said he has a good nucleus to work with as 38 came out for the team including eight seniors and 15 returners.
“We’re not the biggest team, but many of the players have experience at the varsity level. We have the potential to have a good season. We have a lot of talent. We can do good things if we don’t have injuries. If we have injuries, we’ll have to dig into our depth pool,” he said.
Schimon said the team leaders are seniors Michael Schjang, Brandon Crothers and Kyle Tootsie.
Schjang, who drew all-star honors last season, will play wingback and outside linebacker; Tootsie will play wingback and middle linebacker; and Crothers will play tight end and defensive line.
Injuries may have already impacted the Hopi High season. Senior Jeremy Adams, the quarterback last year, injured his ankle and has been unable to practice. If Adams can’t start the season then sophomore Paul Huma will find himself at the quarterback slot.
Coach Schimon said Hopi prepared for the season by lifting weights during the summer and having summer football when they could.
“We introduced the double wing offense during the summer,” he said.
The double wing offense, also known as the toss offense, relies on angle blocking and puts most of the players on one side of the center rather than having the usual balance.
“The wings are the main part of the offense. You don’t need to have the biggest team to have it work,” he said.
Schimon said the Bruins want to make the playoffs, but he added that depends on how they jell. To make the playoffs, Hopi would have to finish in the top four of the 3A North eight-team division.
The Hopi High starting offense tentatively includes quarterback Paul Huma; wingbacks Michael Schjang and Kyle Tootsie; fullback Delvin Huma; center Christopher Joshevama; tight ends Brandon Crothers and Donovan David; offensive linemen Rick Fritz, Evian Lovato, Nathan Tallas and Cornelius Yazzie.
The defense will run a 4-5-2 and depends heavily on linebackers Michael Schjang, Kyle Navenma and Kyle Tootsie. Vincent Timms and Paul Huma will help out.
Coach Schimon said the special teams have the speed to have good coverage. Alden Suetopka will be the punter. Schjang will be kicking field goals and extra points. Schjang, Tootsie, Timms and Thomas Yoyokie will be returning punts and kickoffs.
Schimon has been coaching for nine years, the past two years at Ganado High. He has a BS in education from Winona State University and an MA in physical education from the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)