Saturday, July 20, 2024

MV football working with young group

MV football working with young group

KAYENTA – Longtime Monument Valley football coach Bryan Begay is being tasked to maintain the status quo of the Mustang football program.

Monument Valley graduated 24 seniors, many of whom played nearly every snap last season. Begay, who’s starting his 19th year at the school, is replacing those recent graduates with a young group that played backup behind them.

“Of all the groups that I’ve coached, this is probably the most coaching I’ve done hands on,” Begay said. “A lot of our kids were No. 2s and No. 3s in our rotation. They didn’t get quality varsity playing time because of our seniors, so obviously we’re trying to get them battled-tested with our offseason stuff.”

Since the calendar flipped to June, the Mustangs have participated in four 7-on-7 tournaments in a span of seven days. On June 1, MV took part in the Fort Lewis College tournament in Durango, Colorado.

MV football working with young group

Navajo Times | Quentin Jodie
Window Rock’s Lucas Nez bats away the football, which was intended for Monument Valley’s Preston Evans Saturday in Kayenta. MV hosted four teams at its annual event.

On June 3, Begay took his squad down to the Valley for the Arizona Christian University tournament. Then on Friday, the Mustangs competed in the Utah Tech University scrimmage in St. George before finishing the seven-day excursion by hosting its own 7-on-7 on Saturday afternoon as MV went 2-4.

“We’ve been all over the place since the first of the month,” Begay said. “We’re trying to see what they can do, and we’re trying to see what we have to work on. Obviously, you’re gonna see some slowness on the ball and slowness to reaction time, but what we’re trying to get out of this is the team camaraderie aspect.

“The more we hang around each other, the more we’re going to build,” he added. “We just need to continue to just play Mustang football. We had a great spring and we’re having a great summer. We’re slowly getting back to having a competitive football team.”

And although he’s working with players a little green behind their ears, Begay does not believe in rebuilding.

“It’s more about re-teaching and finding our strengths,” the MV coach said. “We’re finding an offense that will fit our kids’ needs. I think we have the right kids with the right mentality and the right mindset.”

Begay has identified one of the team’s strengths as the Mustangs are looking to control the trenches for the upcoming season.

“We’re probably going to run the ball a little bit more,” Begay said. “We return a good core, and, in my opinion, those guys controlled the 3A North last year. They kind of clogged the little holes and lanes for people.”

The returning linemen include Isaiah Kescoli, Demarco Miles, Brody Smith, Chad Young, Josh Holiday and Marty Bailey.

“Coach (Herb) Barnes has a great group of linemen that are returning and they’re all juniors and seniors,” Begay said. “They have the capabilities of just dominating but it’s going to take a lot of work from them. They need to get back in the weight room, and they need to come together during the offseason to run their run-blocking schemes.”

That group has also stayed busy during the offseason. At the recent ACU tournament, the MV linemen won the Big Man Challenge, which consisted of five disciplines: the tennis ball shuttle, sled push, bag carry, an obstacle course and tug of war competition.

“We competed against some big schools,” Miles said, while adding that this year’s group is close-knit.

“We all know each other,” Miles said. “I mean, we’ve been playing with each other, so we all know what to do. I think our linemen are going to be pretty good.”

The MV linemen finished second to Bradshaw Mountain in their challenge in Kayenta.

“We were pretty close to them,” Miles said of the Prescott Valley, Arizona, school. “We were off by a few seconds in most of the races.”

With an experienced group, Miles says their main priority is to protect the quarterback. They’re also looking to create gaps so their teammates can run the ball.

“If we all work together, it’ll make it easier for our team,” Miles said. “Hopefully, we can help our team.”

On the field the Mustangs utilized two quarterbacks – senior Drake Chee Barnell and junior Angelo Tso – in Saturday’s 7-on-7 competition.

“We went back and forth with our quarterback spot,” Begay said. “We’re letting them be teammates and whoever wins the battle wins the battle. We’re looking for a leader that can run this team.”

Tso, who also plays slot back, insists the team is making strides but they still need work.

“All of our skilled players graduated, so most of our JV players have moved up,” Tso said. “We have some freshmen and sophomores trying to fill those roles. We have a lot of work to do with our quarterback and receivers.

“We have to work on our reads and arm strength,” he added. “We really don’t run our routes because we get jammed a lot, so I feel like we’re still growing into these new positions. It’s a learning experience for everyone.”


About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com

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