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Tallbull back in charge of Navajo Prep football

Tallbull back in charge of Navajo Prep football

SHIPROCK – Storm Tallbull had no immediate plans of returning to the coaching realm.

The Shiprock native previously served as an assistant and head coach at Shiprock High and Navajo Prep. Before those stints, he also served as an assistant coach for the Fort Lewis College football program.

Eight years ago, he left the coaching profession to pursue his master’s degree.

“I needed some money for school, so I joined the military,” Tallbull said. “I haven’t touched my master’s since. I just loved the Army so much and when I left, I joined the Farmington Police Department.”

Although he’s spent nearly a decade away from the sport, Tallbull said nothing has changed in his view.

“I honestly don’t think I skipped a beat at all,” he said. “I still have the passion and love for the game. The only thing that’s changed is I lost a little bit more hair and I’ve gained more weight.

“Other than that, my energy and passion is still the same for coaching,” he added.

So, what changed his mind?

Tallbull said he ran into former Navajo Prep head of school Betty O’Jaye and she urged him to take over the program. She told him that he was meant to coach at ‘Prep.

“She told me that I have the right leadership,” he said. “Not only that, she told me that I was a great influencer for the kids.”

Tallbull said landing the head coach gig at Navajo Prep for the second time is a blessing.

“Maybe that is where the universe had all the designs to land me there at ‘Prep,” he said. “I feel like that is where I belong.”

In addition to O’Jaye, Tallbull also credits athletic director Rainy Crisp and former head coach Roderick Denetso for supporting him to take the job.

“They were the main reasons why I’m here coaching,” he said. “They sought after me.”

As part of the coaching staff, the Eagles won four consecutive football district titles from 2012 to 2015 with the latter being Tallbull’s first year heading the program.

It took another six years for Navajo Prep to win another league title in 2021. The program finished the season last year at 1-8 overall.

“I want us to bring that district championship back to Navajo Prep,” Tallbull said. “That is where I want to be. We’re going to respect all the teams, but at the same time we’re here to compete. That is one of the things that I want to bring differently from last year’s team.”

Last week, the Eagles took part in a four-team scrimmage at Shiprock, and they got a chance to play the likes of Kirtland Central, Monument Valley and the host Chieftains.

“We got ourselves in a bind, but we eventually got into a rhythm,” Tallbull said. “We kind of got going there at the end and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

“With my military and law enforcement background, it’s always about point of execution,” he added. “It’s about training and continuously getting as many reps as we can. The thing I want them to focus on is having base rules, base concepts and just executing.”

The Navajo Prep coach acknowledged that the defense needs to get better. At the scrimmage last week, the Eagles gave up some big yards against KC and Monument Valley.

“I got to do better,” Tallbull said. “That is my job defensively. We didn’t perform that great. We can do better, and I know we are better than that. I need to make sure that we step up defensively.”

The Eagles open the season on Friday against Pojoaque Valley as the 4A school visits Navajo Prep. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“I know they’re a good team,” Tallbull said. “Pojoaque has always been a good program from the time that I coached against them.

I think it’s a good matchup for us on a skilled base level. We do have a lot of seniors out, defensively, with some skill sets.”

Offensively, Tallbull said they have some new faces on the team.

“We’re kind of all brand new,” he said. “We’re trying to fill in some spots; we only have one starter back and that’s Tyler Nells.”

Tallbull said freshman Dallas Wilson is going to take the quarterback snaps on Friday as he is looking to get more of his core players back once school starts. Due to maintenance issues at the school, the start of fall semester will be delayed until Monday.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything from our quarterbacks from last season,” he said. “They haven’t come out of the season, so Dallas is the only one with quarterback experience.”

Following the Pojoaque Valley game, the Eagles will play Wingate (Aug. 24), Piñon (Sept. 2), Crownpoint (Sept. 7), Hózhó Academy (Sept. 15), and McCurdy (Sept. 22) to complete the nondistrict season schedule.

“I think it’s a good setup,” Tallbull said. “I think we have some good matchups to where some teams will give us some really good competition.”

Tallbull said the Navajo Prep and Crownpoint rivalry is one game to watch.

“There’s a lot of tradition there,” he said. “It’s always a back-and-forth game for us.”

On Oct. 13, Tallbull and the Navajo Prep Eagles will open District 1-3A play against Zuni followed by Tohatchi (Oct. 20) and Newcomb (Oct. 27).


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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