Blogs / Features
Don KetchumStaff Writer, AIA365.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Monument Valley in midst of special football seasonOct 2, 2012
By Don Ketchum
Pretty soon, the wind will be whipping off of Black Mesa and into Kayenta, where the Monument Valley Mustangs and their loyal football fans will be waiting.
That’s just the way they like it in northeast Arizona, especially when it’s a playoff game.
Monument Valley is 6-0 entering this week’s home game against Red Mesa and is No. 3 in the Division IV seedings behind perennial powers Lakeside Blue Ridge and Show Low. The Mustangs’ goal is to have a home playoff game for the first time since 2006.
“We knew we were going to have a special group when the season began,’’ said coach Bryan Begay. “We have some young players, but they have experience. We started nine sophomores in a playoff game against Florence.
“We had a lot of football-related activities this summer. We entered a lot of 7-on-7 competitions in the state and even in San Diego and had a lot of community support for that.’’
Begay had 30-35 players participate during the summer and has about 42 on the varsity roster this fall.
He has put the control of the offense into the hands of junior quarterback Redmond Delmar, who appears wise beyond his years. Delmar’s older brother, Jonathan, is Monument Valley’s career passing leader and has been a mentor.
“Redmond is always studying, ready to correct any mistakes,’’ Begay said. “He is not all that vocal, but when he says something, it means something, you know, like “Hey, let’s get this done,’ and the team responds. He is kind of mellow, but he is a hard worker, studies a lot of film. He comes from a hard-working family.’’
According to MaxPreps, Delmar has completed 78 of 121 passes for 1,414 yards and 17 touchdowns. Tasi Malala and Kervin Tom each have 26 receptions and have combined for 13 TDs. The team has three players with 200 or more yards rushing, including Tito Bailey, who was nagged by injuries early but who is starting to regain his form.
The defense is a bit undersized, according to Begay, but it gets the job done.
“We try to put the best possible athletes out there, kind of like what Blue Ridge does, except their guys are faster. We just keep going, try to be as balanced on both sides of the ball as possible.’’
Begay also tries to emphasize academics to his players, “because we want them to do well and succeed, have better opportunities after high school.’’
The team receives a lot of support from the community, and there are high expectations.
“The kids know what is going on, that there is pressure. We just try to tell them to work hard every day and be humble.’’
Competing in a playoff atmosphere is difficult to duplicate during the regular season, although Begay said his team encountered similar conditions at Page, and will do so again on Oct. 19 at Winslow.
“We are enjoying it right now and everybody seems to be on Cloud 9,’’ Begay said. “We are trying to treat each game now like the playoffs, like “It’s now or never.’ We believe in each other.
“We are looking to play a home playoff game if we can. It should be freezing with that wind chill. That’s good. We hope to have 2,000 or 3,000 fans, and we will see how far it can take us.’’