Tohatchi, Crownpoint shooting to make state playoffs

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

TOHATCHI, N.M., Aug. 14, 2014

Text size: A A A

(Times photo – Ravonelle Yazzie)

In order to get the proper stance, freshman Keanu Yazzie takes part of a squatting drill on Tuesday in preparation for Tohatchi’s season opener against Thoreau on Aug. 29.

The strength of last year’s senior class helped put the Tohatchi High School football team on the map.

Tohatchi finished the year at 7-2 and second in the district with a 3-1 record. But with the graduation of virtually every offensive starter the Cougars are looking at a rebuilding project under new head coach Doug Ballard.

“They graduated 16 seniors last year so we’re basically a brand new team,” Ballard said. “It’s going to be a down year for us but right now we’re shooting for the playoffs.

“We’re not trying to go 10-0 but we’re trying to say let’s win our district and make the playoffs,” he said.

Some changes were made when the New Mexico Activities Association revamped the state’s classification. They placed Tohatchi with Crownpoint, Newcomb and Navajo Prep in District 1-3A with latter two rejoining the league.

First-year Crownpoint coach Sandy Pace said he likes the new district but the shift has caused some concern since they had to drop former district nemesis Laguna Acoma, one of the top five teams in Class 3A, off their schedule.

Crownpoint opens the season at Wingate on Aug. 29.

“I don’t know what the other teams have coming back and I don’t know what to look out for,” he said. “But I wanted to play a team like Bloomfield or Shiprock at the beginning. I think our biggest deal is when we get to play ’Prep.” Pace said playing a tough team early on would have helped them gauge where they are at and what they need to work on.

“Next year I hope to schedule teams like them,” he said of Bloomfield and Shiprock.

Nonetheless, Pace is excited about the upcoming season as he returns to the Eagle sideline after coaching the middle school program for the last two years.

“We’re going back to the same thing that (former head coach) Dave Burns and I used to run,” Pace said. “We’re doing the same program.” Since the opening day of practice on Aug. 4, the first year coach said he’s seen a lot of enthusiasm.

“We tell them to do something and they completely trust us and they do it, Pace said. “They also do things themselves and we don’t have to tell them what to do.” He said they do about 100 pushups a day because of mistakes but he hears no complaints.

“They do their stuff,” he said. “They’re very coachable.”

How to get The Times:

Back to top ^