Football season in northern district looks promising for local teams

Overview

File photo The Shiprock football team returns a bevy of starters from last year’s team, including eight on offense and nine on defense. The Chieftains will compete in 4A District 1 with Navajo Prep, Thoreau and Wingate.

File photo
The Shiprock football team returns a bevy of starters from last year’s team, including eight on offense and nine on defense. The Chieftains will compete in 4A District 1 with Navajo Prep, Thoreau and Wingate.

FRUITLAND N.M.

The Shiprock Chieftains football team is in a good place.

For the last couple of weeks, the Chiefs have put in the work necessary to feel comfortable going into the 2016 season.

Shiprock head coach Eric Stovall said the payoff of the off-season training put in is showing.

“We’re really excited, they’ve worked really hard in the off-season and committed to the weight room,” Stovall said. “They’ve become stronger as a unit as far as camaraderie goes, they’re coming together as one and working hard for each other.”

Shiprock returns many starting players, eight on offense and nine on defense. Stovall said he looks to return 18-20 seniors this season.

He said many of the players returning are in key positions.

“We feel good about where we are,” he said. “In the quarterback position, we have two or three that are competing as well with that spot on offense.”

Some of the leaders on the team include senior and co-captain Donovan Chee, who returns in the wide receiver position as well as senior co-captain Steve Lara in the tight end position. Darren Harrison, senior, returns as a tight end and senior Zephaniah Hadley on defense.

While many familiar faces return to Shiprock’s roster, the team is looking at new competition in 4A District 1.

Navajo Prep joins the group made up of Thoreau and Wingate, while Bloomfield and Kirtland Central moved out and up to 5A and Zuni down to 3A District 1.

Stovall said the shrinking of the district does not make it any less competitive.

“All of the teams have equal parity as far as talent,” he said. “The district is wide open.”

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About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com.