Chieftains end regular season with a win at home
By Nicole Baker
Special to the Navajo Times
SHIPROCK, NM, November 1, 2012
T he Shiprock Chieftains football team got everything they hoped for and more from their final home game of the season.
With a dominating offensive performance, the Chieftains ran over the Wingate Bears, 31-6, to open their District 1-3A season Friday night in Shiprock.
"It's good to end it with a bang and win our last home game as seniors," Chieftain senior Rashaan Johnson said.
The 13 Chieftain seniors made the most of their final appearance at Chieftain Stadium.
The Chieftain seniors were responsible for almost all of the scoring, as the Chieftains scored on all four of their first four possessions.
Chieftain senior Wesley Martin got things started, turning the corner and finishing with a 14-yard touchdown 53 seconds into the game. Chieftain senior Alex Benally then drove for 50 yards to set up the Chieftains for a first and goal from the 10-yard line, with senior quarterback Adam Begaye finishing up with a one-yard touchdown a few plays later with 7:09 still to go in the first quarter.
Then, Chieftain senior Tristan Mike finished another drive with a one-yard touchdown with 54.4 seconds remaining in the first quarter for an 18-0 advantage.
The Chieftains opened up the second quarter just as strong. Despite getting a touchdown called back, Benally and the Chieftains rallied as Benally connected with junior Hiram Gleason for a six-yard touchdown. Mike then came through with another short-yardage push into the end zone, giving the Chieftains a huge 31-0 advantage after three.
Wingate quarterback Julian Martin made four connections including 16 yards and 23 yards to Joseph Harvey and then capping it off with a 45-yard bomb to Alex Begay for the Bears' only successful offense drive midway through the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of my line, they kept their blocks," said Joseph Harvey. "We just got into our rush real quick.
"We had 24 players," Harvey said adding that the Bears are playing for pride and for each other. "We lost half of that team (to grades)."
The Chieftain seniors were huge on defense as well, especially Johnson who came up huge with not only two big fumble recoveries but three interceptions, including one with 28.4 seconds left in the game.
Johnson also pulled off an interception in the end zone, which he returned for 64 yards before being tackled on the outside.
"Total, I have ten interceptions this season," Johnson said. "These interceptions I had tonight were like the biggest ones I've had, because I actually got to run with the ball. The other games I'd catch it, but I always got tackled right when I catch it. I just stay over the top, when I see that player turn that's when I turn around.
"It's pretty big to win our first game in district," he added. "Our next two games are going to be our toughest so we have to play our hearts out."
It was also a bittersweet win for the Chieftains' seniors as Johnson, Begaye, Mike, Benally, Martin, Michael Peters, Collin Begay, Jeremiah Nez, Rayshawn Ben, Malkishua Harrison, Bryne Johnson, Brandon Pioche and Tom Hall all made their final regular season appearance on their home field.
The Chieftains continue district competition on the road at Thoreau.
"We just had to come out and win," said Shiprock junior halfback Quadry Smith, who did a large portion of the carrying for the Chieftains Friday night. "It was a big game. It was district. We had to come out on top."
"We cut down on flags, we blocked and we executed the plays we needed too," Smith added. "We scored when we had to."