CHINLE, Ariz. - The 3A North Chinle Wildcats' football season kicked off to a great start as they won their non-conference home opener over the Class 2A Many Farms Lobos last Friday night with a final score of 52 to 6.
With this year's motto, "New Team, New Attitude, New Coach," the Wildcats started the 2009-2010 season 1-0, 0-0. The Wildcats will meet another Class 2A opponent - the Hopi Bruins - on the road in Polacca on Friday at 8 p.m.
The Lobos will continue to take their game on the road this Friday night when they will travel to Window Rock to play the Scouts, another Class 3A North team.
On any opening night of a new high school football season, there are bound to be some first game jitters, nervous tension and errors made, and the yellow flags will take to the air.
In the opening quarter, both teams were flagged repeatedly.
"We needed to clean up our act on the line. We made some mistakes - mental errors," said Curtis Williamberger, Chinle head coach.
Once the adjustments were made, the game changed. "We fired off the ball a lot harder and played a much cleaner game," Coach Williamberger said.
The offense began to roll, scoring their first touchdown of the new season with 5:45 minutes left in the opening quarter. The Wildcats led 7-0.
On the following Lobos possession, Kalani Simeona of the Wildcats stepped in front of a Lobo receiver for his first interception of the season that led to another Wildcat score with 4:40 remaining in the quarter. Their lead was extended 14-0.
The Chinle Wildcats scored three more touchdowns and one point after a touchdown in the second quarter to take a 33-0 lead into the locker room as the first half ended.
The third quarter belonged to the Lobos as they were able to mount drive after drive down the field with stoppages by the determined Wildcats defensive line.
The Lobos were not to be denied. Using a quad set, quarterback Kevin Harvey was able to complete passes and gain yardage needed to find the end zone.
With 3:51 left in the quarter, the Lobos were able to score on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Austin Anderson. The point after was no good and Chinle still led 33-6 as the quarter ended.
Nineteen minutes into the final quarter, Chinle quarterback Zachery Begay found Leon Ricehill wide open and connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass play to bring the score to 39-6.
With 2:53 minutes left in the quarter, Stewart Yazzie scored his third touchdown of the night with a one-yard run. The point after was good and the lead was extended to 46-6.
The Wildcats closed out the scoring with two minutes left in the game on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Begay to Shawnell Yazzie for a final score of 52 to 6.
Offensively, the Wildcats rushed for a total of 277 yards. Stewart Yazzie led the way with three touchdowns and 148 yards on 19 carries; an 7.8 yards average per carry. Nathan Tsosie (55 yards), Nathan Jones (40 yards), and Cody Jones (34 yards) added a touchdown run apiece while Leon Ricehill and Shawnell Tsosie had one touchdown each via the airways.
"We did fairly well tonight and we have a lot of work to do," said Coach Williamberger. "The key to our win was that we played a very physical defensive game and offensively, we made some changes during the half. The line gave us some more protection. Overall, we need to learn patience."
"I was very happy with my performance tonight," said Wildcat running back Stewart Yazzie, after racking up 148 yards on the ground. "The offensive line opened up some big holes for me and I was able to gain big yards."
"Playing against a bigger school, we did better in the second half than the first half," said John Willie, head coach for the Many Farms Lobos. "I have a lot of confidence in our boys, especially when we play schools in our own conference. We will be competitive."