Saturday, July 20, 2024

Second-year Newcomb coach remains optimistic about upcoming football season

Second-year Newcomb coach remains optimistic about upcoming football season

FORT DEFIANCE – In his first season at Newcomb High, head coach Vincent Lee had a senior-heavy squad that lost the district title game to Navajo Prep in a 38-36 heartbreaker.

Of the 33 players that finished out last year’s 4-6 campaign, 13 graduated this past spring.

“Our expectation this year is to compete for a district title and have a winning record,” Lee told the Navajo Times last month. “We love to win, and, in all honesty, we would like to win at least six, seven games this year.”

Those lofty goals come on the heels of a productive offseason, as Lee has introduced a powerlifting program at the 2A school as well as having his squad take part in several 7-on-7 tournaments this summer.

“We’ve had a great offseason,” Lee said. “A majority of our line have been lifting weights and our strength is like night and day from the time I came in last year to this year.

“We’ve also worked on developing our backfield, too,” he added. “With the line that we have coming back I think our run game is going to be exceptional. We’re looking to establish our run game and play smash-mouth football just like we did towards the end of last season.”

Newcomb finished out Lee’s debut season strong by winning four of its last six games. The Skyhawks opened 0-4 as the Newcomb team was still getting acclimated to Lee’s system.

“It took us a while to get going because I was hired late,” Lee said. “We were just trying to keep the wheels on the wagon, but this year we have no excuses. We cannot start the season slow because we’ve had an exceptional offseason.

“We’ve put in all the pieces in place for our kids to be successful,” he added.

The second-year Newcomb coach, however, has to replace his top three rushers in quarterback Dion Lee, and running backs Mikal Ashley and Elias Manning. The trio carried the ball for 1,481 yards, which was nearly three-quarters of its rushing offense.

“Those guys, you know, are irreplaceable types of kids,” Lee said. “Dion Lee was very exceptional at reading his blocks. He was also great at cutback and Mikal Ashley was like lightning in a bottle. Once he got in the open field, he was very quick and fast.”

Lee is looking to replace those players with juniors Landon Noble, Colt Yazzie and Robbie Yazzie (no relation).

“Landon got into the mix at the very end of the season,” the Newcomb coach said. “He caught on towards the end and he’s going to be a part of our offense again. Colt is playing well right now and I think he’s going to fill Dion’s shoes and Robbie will fill in Mikal’s shoes.

“I think Landon is going to continue and pick up from where he left off last year and I think Colt and Robbie are going to surprise some people.”

Despite losing a big chunk of their offense, Colt believes they are more than ready to take over.

“I feel like we’ve learned a lot over the summer,” said Colt, who is projected to start at running back/cornerback. “We’ve put in a lot of work on the field, and I think we can do this.”

Lee is still undecided on who will replace Dion Lee at quarterback, but Glacius Chee has been biding his time during the offseason to earn that spot.

“We have players challenging for quarterback, and Glacius Chee has really stepped up for us,” Lee said. “In the offseason we open everything up and if they work hard enough, we’ll give them that opportunity to compete for that position.”

Nothing is certain yet, but the Newcomb coach likes that Chee is developing those relationships on-and-off the field.

“He’s vying to become the team’s quarterback,” Lee said. “He’s tall, strong and athletic. He just needs to get a little more experience behind center, but he’s leading our team right now.”

Chee, who played sparingly last year, says he’s feeling the pressure of filling in some big shoes but he’s embracing it.

“I want to look good for the job, but I need to have better skill sets,” Chee said. “Right now, I’m making myself look back, but I’m working on it. I’m working on my accuracy, my reads and my throws.”

“I’m actually really proud of Glacius,” Lee said. “I’m excited about what he’s bringing to our offense. He’s added a dynamic to our offense.”

In the new realignment year, the New Mexico Activities Association placed Newcomb in District 1-2A with Cuba, Hózhó Academy, Laguna Acoma, McCurdy and Navajo Prep.

“McCurdy went 6-3 last year and they have an impressive run game,” Lee said. “Again, Prep is going to be in our district, and we’ll have Cuba and Laguna in there. Hózhó is a brand new program, but if you’ve seen them at these 7-on-7s they have an impressive skills group.

“Our district is going to be really competitive,” he added. “I think ultimately, it’s going to come down to who shows up and who executes. We’re going to have to take everyone seriously, and we have to come to play to be the district champions.”


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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