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Warrior football looking for breakout season

Warrior football looking for breakout season

KAYENTA

On Saturday, the Tuba City football team attended the 15th Annual Monument Valley 7-on-7 Tournament.

In pool play, the Warriors faced Miyamura, Bradshaw Mountain, El Capitan and the Monument Valley JV squad.

Tuba City head coach Vincent Lee was pleased with his team’s performance, saying they showed a lot of strength and endurance that day.

“Most of these guys came last year and they were freshmen, so most of them are sophomores and we have a couple upperclassmen, but they just came out and competed,” Lee said. “We went toe-to-toe with Bradshaw and we went toe-to-toe with Flagstaff, and we came up a little short, but I’m so excited for these guys because they’re here to compete in a totally different mindset.”

In the single elimination tournament, the Warriors faced the MV JV squad and won, moving them into the quarterfinals against Bradshaw Mountain.

And although the Warriors lost in the next round, Lee saw it as an accomplishment with his team moving through the bracket.

“We scored a lot of points today, a lot more than we did last year,” Lee said. “The offense is starting to look really exceptional and we need the offensive to be exceptional because our defense is really young this year.”

Eleven athletes graduated from his team this past May, including most of his starters on defense as well as his quarterback.

He returns eight starters on offense, but they need to work on their new defensive unit, who got some valuable experience on Saturday.

He named several players who he thinks are going to have a good season this year, but the two that really stood out are returners Kollin Posey and Ryyan Benally.

Posey is taking over the quarterback position, having already taking command of the offense and communicating well with the rest of the team.

Benally is coming back from the track team where this past season he came in second for the 200-meter dash at the 3A North Region track meet. At the tournament he made great catches during the pool, playing great offenses and defenses and making some interceptions as well. He is showing potential to becoming a premier playmaker.

Lee believes his team has a more determined mindset that helped during the tournament and that will certainly come in handy when the season kicks off.

“That’s what we needed, because they’re talented, they’re fast and they’re strong, we just needed that mentality of ‘we’re here to compete,’” Lee said.

This is Lee’s fourth year as head coach and each year he felt the team has improved. Last year they went 5-5, so this year he set the bar for the team to win seven, eight games and the team seems eager to accomplish that.

The Warriors are planning to hit at least three more tournaments before the fall.

For the first time since taking over the program, his offense is leading the team. Before that his defensive unit was the most dominant of the two.

With the roles reversed, Lee plans to have his squad “open up its playbook.”

“Our goal is to score a lot of points,” he said. “The kids are sold on it. They all want their stats; they’ll want the touchdowns and so they’re putting in the work now.”

Lee thanks the Tuba City community, school and parents for their support of the football team, believing they will have a breakout season this year. But most of all he praises the young men and women in his program, giving them their due credit for coming out to practice and them coming out to the field ready and eager to play.


About The Author

David Smith

David Smith is Tódích’íi’nii and born for Dziłt’aadí. He is from Chinle and studied at Northern Arizona University. He studied journalism and English for five years while working part-time for NAU’s NAZ Today and the Lumberjack newspaper. After graduating in 2020, he joined the Navajo Times as a sportswriter for two years before leaving in September 2022. Smith returned in February 2023.

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