Trophy cup missing in Tuba, Greyhills rivalry

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

TUBA CITY - Sept. 12, 2013

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(Times photo – Krista Allen)

TOP: Greyhills Academy quarterback Elijah Grisham takes a hit from Tuba City outside linebacker Sergio Oliver. Greyhills lost, 29-18.

The only thing missing from this rivalry is a prized trophy cup.

That is what Travis Fuller is suggesting so that the winner of the Tuba City-Greyhills Academy matchup can hold onto that trophy for one calendar year.

The Greyhills football coach said it would be nice for both schools to play for a "territorial cup" since they have a unique situation that is sometimes overlooked by people who are not familiar with the two institutions.

For all intents and purposes, the Tuba City Warriors would have held that cup as they defeated Greyhills, 29-18, on Sept. 6.

No one is quite sure when this rivalry actually got started as this reporter received two different accounts on when it happened. But back in the day Tuba City had only one high school.

One source said some type of rift lead to the division of the two schools and now, they are separated by an iron fence.

"When the schools split there was some tension there," said Fuller, who started his 10th year at Greyhills, his first as head coach.

In the early days, Fuller said their rivalry game was fueled by bad blood because of the rift but "that tension has gone away and now it's more for the kids."

"It's still a good rivalry for the parents because this is basically a territorial battle," he added. "You get bragging rights for the year. You don't have this on the reservation where you have two schools in the same town playing each other as often as we do."

On top of that, the rivalry has siblings playing on the opposite sides.

For Tuba City, Trayston Gray plays two positions -- right guard and left defensive end -- for the Warriors; his younger brother Kevinston Gray also plays both ways for the Knights.

"I grew up with most of those players," Trayston said of the Greyhills squad. "I consider them all my brothers but it's kind of tough on me being an older brother to (Kevinston).

"I'm an emotional person but I am a different person on the field and for this game we just have to do our jobs," he added. "We had to execute, even though we are brothers."

Trayston said most of the kids in the area attend Tuba City Boarding School before they have to decide on what high school they want to attend.

"I always wanted to wear the color green," Trayston said when asked why he chose to play for Tuba City. "I always have pride in playing for this school."

As for his younger brother, his heart was always set on being a Knight, a decision he made as a seventh grader.

"First of all, I am not a Warrior," Kevinston said, while adding that his older brother encouraged him to follow him to Tuba City.

"He thought it would be cool to play on the same team but I already had my mind set on Greyhills," Kevinston said.

And although Tuba City head coach Rick Benjamin is new to the rivalry, he understands its significance, especially for the alumni who return each year to watch both programs settle things on the gridiron.

"This is a big rivalry between Greyhills and Tuba City," Benjamin said. "Matter of fact, I think it's Greyhills most important game to win. They did pretty good tonight with it being a rivalry game."

When asked what the win last Friday meant to the team, the first-year Tuba City coach downplayed the "bragging rights" conversation that comes with it.

"We needed this win because we had two losses coming in," Benjamin said. "I was hoping to do better than this but you have to credit Greyhills. They came ready to play."

In this game, however, it was the Warriors who jumped out to a 21-0 lead. Tuba City quarterback Roland Becenti tacked on the first two scores, a 32-yard TD pass to Tyler Johnson midway through the first quarter and a 7-yard TD run at the start of the second.

Junior Sergio Oliver added a 17-yard touchdown run that completed a 59-yard drive that took four plays to complete.

"It took us awhile to get going but after our first drive everyone started to do their jobs," Becenti said. "We were executing our plays."

But with under two minutes left in the half, the Knights went 76 yards and cut the lead down to 21-7 when quarterback Elijah Grisham found Tyler Smith wide open for a 66-yard touchdown pass.

Greyhills opened the second half with their second score of the night, this time going 69 yards as the trailed, 21-12, with 9:17 left in the third quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Grisham to Tremaine Bartlett.

After that, things went sour for both clubs as they coughed up the ball two times before Tuba City extended its lead to 29-12 with 8:32 to go in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors took advantage of a short field as Becenti connected with Willis Bilogody on 18-yard touchdown pass, which completed a 33-yard drive that took up three plays.

Greyhills added one meaningless touchdown when Bartlett hit Markel Yazzie with a 16-yard reception.

"Our first two games were pretty tough but we are starting to play together," Becenti said. "We are looking to go undefeated from here on out."

On Friday, Tuba City will be at Many Farms while Greyhills will host Rough Rock.

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