Prep football kicks off

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, August 9, 2012

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I t's that time of year again. Now that the dog days of summer are almost over, it's time to start thinking about prep sports.

With that said, the Navajo Times is asking all athletic directors and coaches to send your 2012-2013 schedule for all grades.

Fax that information to 928-871-1159 (Attn: Amber) or email it to

Monday was the first official day that New Mexico-based schools were allowed to conduct practices in preparation for the 2012 football season.

Most teams took advantage of the two-a-day session since most schools don't officially start school until next Monday.

Across the state line in Arizona, schools in that area began its second week of practice, which means they were allowed to work out in pads and run full contact drills.

"We're starting to get an idea of what we have," Ganado coach Brandon Newcomb said on Tuesday. "We have a good core of kids who have been wit the program and we also have another group that needs a little prodding."

Since the start of school on Monday, Newcomb said he's added 20 new players to the program and has roughly 55 varsity and junior varsity players.

"Right now its tough because we still have some kids still out because they need to get medical clearance," he said. "Some of them are setting up appointments for their physicals. It's just the way it goes sometimes, but I like to think that were making mild progress."

On Aug. 7 the Hornets will be hosting a scrimmage with Tuba City and Holbrook before they open up the season the following week at Sanders Valley.

"We had a good summer workout," Newcomb said about his feelings about the upcoming season. "For most of June our kids were hitting the weight room and running drills. This was the best offseason program we've had in the three years that I've been here."

Last year the Hornets finished the year at 5-5 and with the core they have coming back Newcomb is hoping for another great season.

On the other end of that spectrum is Navajo Pine.

Since the 2004 season the Warriors have won only five games, according to first-year coach Leo Hand.

"I think we've been the black sheep in the area when it comes to football," Hand said. "But I want to change that and the kids want to change that."

Hand said the key to changing that mindset is to have a summer program so that players can develop and improve skills.

"I've coached really good teams in California and Texas," he said. "In those programs, I was able to put together some things over the summer and that was helpful."

And despite the history of the Navajo Pine football program, Hand said he's going to approach this job the same way he has at the other programs he's coached.

"You have to start somewhere," he said. "Right now this program does not have a lot of pride, but I'm looking forward to this unique challenge."

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