Hopi hands Valley first loss, 50-0

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

SANDERS, Ariz., Sept. 19, 2013

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(Times photos – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Valley’s Marcus Yazzie (38) breaks a through a Hopi Bruin tackle Friday in Sanders, Ariz.

BOTTOM: Hopi’s Blake Sekaquaptewa (14) attempts to evade Valley Pirate Alec Kee (10) on Friday in Sanders, Ariz.

There were times last year when the opposing teams' defense would focus on Blake Sekaquaptewa.

More often than not, that was the way to keep the Hopi football team off balance. Even with all that attention, Sekaquaptewa used his athleticism and instincts on the field to rack up 1,870 yards and score 19 touchdowns as he helped the Bruins to a 5-5 record.

"Blake is a real smart football player so a lot of teams keyed on him," Hopi coach Steve Saban said.

And because of depth issues, Sekaquaptewa was one of Hopi's go-to-person during last year's campaign since a lot of their backs were injured. (The Bruins also depended on former Hopi graduate Allen Joshevama, who threw for 1,490 yards and 14 touchdowns).

As an all-state returning running back, Sekaquaptewa is still getting a lot of attention, but this year the starting senior quarterback is receiving a lot of help.

Such was the case on Sept. 13 when sophomore running back Wyatt Howard rushed for 126 yards on ten carries and scored three touchdowns in Hopi's 50-0 win over previously unbeaten Valley.

"He's really stepped up a lot since last year," Sekaquaptewa said of Howard. "He gives us more options because a lot of teams are still keying on me."

In other words it makes Sekaquaptewa's job a little easier. And with fullback Darius Harvey and wide receiver Charles Youvella contributing, it opens the Bruin's playbook.

"That is what we need if we want to start talking about going to state," Saban said. "We need contributions from everyone."

The fifth-year coach said making the state playoffs has been his goal since he was hired.

"I've had these kids for four years now so that's the objective," he said. "We have a great senior core. The last time we were here (at Valley) they ran up the score on us when most of these guys were freshmen.

"They were starting and we remembered that tonight," he added.

And while the Bruins won this contest by a large margin, the conditions were a bit tricky as a passing storm flooded the track at the high school just before kickoff.

The game was delayed half an hour so that the water could filter out of the stadium. Needless to say, the wet conditions made the football field a soppy mess.

"It took away a lot of our offense," Saban said. "We predicate on cuts and speed so we had to change our game plans. It was messy but the kids responded real well."

"We're not used to this grass," Sekaquaptewa added. "And with the water and mud it was really slippery so it was a challenge because we wanted to run the ball on the outside. We couldn't do that."

Nevertheless, Sekaquaptewa rushed the ball for 127 yards on 16 carries and had four touchdowns, with his longest TD coming from 30-yards out.

For Valley, the conditions did them no favors as they finished the game with 7 turnovers. Four of those miscues came from fumbles.

"I am proud of the effort but we didn't play that well," Valley coach Josh Catron said. "We didn't deserve to be in that game by any means. I think we had a good plan going into it but we made a lot of mental mistakes."

Catron said it rained in Valley for much of last week so they had to practice inside the gym.

"The weather was like this every single day," he said. "There was lightning outside but we should been out there when the storm passed and played in the mud with a wet ball because it came back to haunt us."

Despite turning over the ball that many times, the Pirates did have one possession where they reached Hopi's seven-yard line late in the game.

But with a second-and-goal inside the five-yard line, Valley quarterback Cherelle Speen had her pass intercepted.

"You never want to get shutout," Catron said. "Getting that touchdown definitely would have raised the morale É we did a good job of driving the ball down the field. That was the one time we went four downs without turning over the ball but at the end we had a little miscommunication issue and ended up throwing that interception."

With the win the Bruins improved to 3-1 for the year with their only blemish coming on Sept. 6 against Ganado as the Hornets won 20-14 in overtime.

"We should have won that game," Saban said. "We had over 400 yards of offense and we held them to 127 yards but we gave up three big plays."

On Friday the Bruins will host Pinon while Valley is at home with Many Farms.

"We started off the season real strong with two wins and if we are going to get a lost like this it's better to get it at the beginning of the season," Catron said. "I want our guys to learn from this and bounce back."

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