Prep football: Chinle bounces back from a 1-4 slide with a 26-12 win
By Quentin Jodie
CHINLE, Ariz., October 4, 2012
I n all sorts of ways, the Chinle football team has grown up since the start of the season.
And with three games left in the regular season, they have a good chance of finishing out the year with a winning record.
With that said, the Wildcats are still looking to make the state playoffs for the fourth straight year despite coming off a 1-4 campaign prior to last Friday's game with archrival Window Rock.
"We never lose faith," Chinle coach Tim Su'e Su'e Liufau said when asked about their playoff hopes.
"We just have to move forward and play our cards (right)," he said.
In their game with the Scouts, they played it well enough for a 26-12 win.
"What you seen tonight is not what we did at the beginning of the season," Liufau said.
"We didn't execute, we didn't have the power or the heart to win," he said of their early woes. "But tonight they found themselves and it just took them some time."
In preparing for the Scouts, Liafua said his team had to be quick while adding that they needed to control the clock.
"I know watching their videotape we needed to go fast pace," he said. "I have to give it to Window Rock. They are great and everything, but we practiced what we needed to practice and they just executed."
That was pretty evident in the early going as the Wildcats scored a touchdown on its second play from the line of scrimmage.
With 11:10 to go, senior running back Dejuan Betom ran the ball for 39 yards to complete a 46-yard TD drive.
"We won that coin toss and I wanted us to drive that ball," Liafua said. "We went to work on offense and you know with it being homecoming there was some distractions, but we were focused."
Defensively, the Wildcats forced Window Rock into a three-and-out situation on its first possession.
The Wildcats immediately went to their bread and butter in Betom before he was saddled on the sidelines with a high ankle sprain.
"He is our ace running back," Liufau said of Betom, who finished the game with 88 yards on five carries, which include gains of 39,16, and 11 yards.
"That was our speed right there," he said, "but we had other guys step up that gave us more speed and power."
That individual happened to be junior Dominique Yazzie who rushed for 141 yards on 32 carries with one touchdown.
"I want to thank my line, they helped me," Yazzie said. "I just ran hard for my team and made the plays."
In its second drive of the night Yazzie picked up 26 yards before junior quarterback Wanya Gray took over at Window Rock's 19-yard line.
Gray completed two passes with his final one going for 13 yards as he connected with senior wideout Kevin Thompson to cap a 54-yard touchdown drive.
The PAT by Jereson Francis put Chinle ahead, 14-0, with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
"We were coming off four losses so we had our doubters," Yazzie said. But "we kept telling ourselves that we could do this. I am so proud of my team, we all made it work tonight."
Window Rock, which dropped three of its last four games, had a 20-yard touchdown run by Eric Bryant, the team's quarterback, called back for blocking in the back.
That penalty pushed them back to Chinle's 35-yard line and three plays later Chinle took over.
Things didn't get any better for the visiting team as they lost two fumble on its next three possessions with Chinle capitalizing on one of them.
The Wildcats went 33 yards in eight plays with Yazzie scoring from four yards out for a 20-0 cushion with 3:04 left before the half.
"We came out flat," Window Rock coach Bradley King said. "I have several starters that are out due to injuries and grade check so we were playing a lot of younger guys.
"We made some mistakes and we just didn't come out strong on offense," he added. "Basically that first quarter just killed us. After that we played a game."
Before the half came to a close, the Scouts did cut the deficit down to 20-6 as Bryant completed a 19-yard TD pass to Kyler Ashley, who broke free from his defender in the end zone.
In the second half, Window Rock got as close as 20-12 when Bryant found Ashley again in the end zone.
That drive started at their own two-yard line as Chinle failed to convert a fourth-and-goal.
The Scouts then went 98 yards that took 11 plays to complete to pull within eight points with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The game, however, took a turn as Chinle went with an option pass play to go up 26-12 with a 74-yard TD reception.
On its first play from the line of scrimmage tight end Rain Brady took a handoff from Gray and made a sound decision by throwing the ball to Thompson near midfield.
"We were sucking them into the run all night, so we do a little bit of throwing here and there," Liufau said. "We knew they were going to fall asleep so we had to come up with something different."