Chinle's offensive line looking to prove doubters wrong
By Quentin Jodie
CHINLE, September 05, 2013
(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)
Since the first day of offseason practice, Chinle coach Tim Su'e Su'e has viewed that as the strongest position group on the team.
"This is a fundamentally sound team and it starts with our line," Su'e Su'e said. "Without the line there is no receiving the ball or running the ball."
The fourth-year coach said some doubt has been cast on his team since they lost a lot of skilled players from last year's squad, particularly at the receiving position.
But the good news is that the Wildcats returned three linemen – sophomore Sheldon Tsosie and seniors Dustin Smith and Kordell Chee – who played significantly from last year's team that made the Division IV playoffs and finished with a 5-5 record.
And with juniors Jason Francis and Jaron Yazzie added to the mix, the Chinle squad may have one of the best linemen in the area.
"As a line we have to be the defense in order for our skilled players to get the ball running," said Smith, who has cemented himself as the team's starting center.
Chee, who plays tackle, said the role of protecting Wanya Gray, the team's quarterback, requires a team effort.
"First of all, it's not individually at all," he said. "We all have to work together to help get the boys running."
Chee said they have made improvements during the offseason and he credits Su'e Su'e and his staff for pointing them in the right direction.
"His system really works," he said. "He's taught us so much and we've picked up his scheme real quick. We're more familiar with it so I think we'll have a good year."
Su'e Su'e, who started his fourth year at the helms, says this may be one of his best linemen he's ever coached at the school.
"They understand the game plan," said Su'e Su'e, who dubbed the linemen as the 'Fab Five' this year. "They focus a lot of their energy in making sure Wanya has time to pass the ball. All I ask from them is give him three seconds."
Not only that the linemen are responsible for knocking down holes so that senior running back Dominique Yazzie has room to run.
In their recent game against Alchesay on Aug. 30, the linemen passed that test with flying colors as Gray completed 11-of-17 passes for 239 yards with three touchdowns.
Yazzie, on the other hand, finished with 103 yards on 16 carries. He also added three scores with his longest one coming from 17 yards out.
"Alchesay is a good smacking team but I thought the line was incredible, unbelievable" Sue' Su'e said after last Thursday's 48-20 win. "The line helped us execute our plays tonight. They wanted it and they emphasized what I wanted them to do on the field.
"I am real proud of that," he added.
Gray, who played only one half, also had some high praises for his linemen.
"We lost a lot of good receivers but the line helped us get this win," he said. "I have a lot of faith in them. I would go against the No. 1 team in the state with this line that I have. They are really that good."
With the schedule getting much tougher, Su'e Su'e said they could get instant credibility in the eyes of beholders of the Arizona Interscholastic Association seeding committee.
On Friday, the Wildcats will host St. Johns before visiting state powerhouse Blue Ridge on Sept. 13.
"This is a young ball club but they are so hungry and they are ready to compete," Su'e Su'e said. "They are finally coming out of this reservation shell where they want to compete against the top teams in the state."
Ironically, it was last season's lost to eventual state champs Seton Catholic by a 61-0 count in the first round that got the Chinle team thinking outside the box.
"It left a bitter taste but I was real proud of them," Su'e Su'e said. "We have a goal and we are not going to look back at the past in what Seton Catholic did to us. We are using that as motivation and to make ourselves better."
"We want to be the first rez team to make the second round, maybe even further," Smith added. "We want home field advantage and have our crowd behind us."