FARMINGTON — Shiprock High football first-year head coach Eric Stovall was able to take some positives and negatives from his team's 66-30 loss to Socorro last week.
In order to beat the visiting Chinle Wildcats at 6 tonight at Chieftain Stadium, Stovall's squad will need the positives to outweigh those negatives this time.
The Shiprock offense looked outstanding in the first half last week, scoring 30 points by the break. Unfortunately for the Chieftains, the defense had given up 40 points by that time.
Then, the offense stalled and didn't score a single point in the second half.
Seeing his team tackle better has been the No. 1 priority for Stovall at practice this week.
"We have to wrap up the ball carrier much better," he said. "Putting at least eight hats on the ball and being more sound fundamentally going toward the ball carrier is key."
Senior quarterback Arjay Miller had mixed results last week, throwing three touchdown passes but also three interceptions. Stovall said his starting QB has been working hard to improve this week.
"We worked a lot on his reads and also his progressions," Stovall said of Miller. "The other thing we really toned up is his footwork. That will help him as far as working to improve in the pocket. Pocket awareness is also something we're working with him on."
Chinle, which went 3-7 overall last season, got off on the wrong foot this season as well, falling 47-0 last week to Show Low, Ariz.
Stovall said his defense has to be ready for a Chinle offense that figures to throw the ball often.
"Coach (Tim) Su'e Su'e Liufau does an excellent job over there. He has a great group of kids," he said. "They're athletic, they're hard-nosed, they run downhill very well. He does a good job with the pistol (formation) that they run, and they're not afraid to open it up and go a little spread."
The Northern New Mexico Football Classic is what tonight's matchup is being called, and the halftime ceremony will feature the honoring of Navajo Nation World War II Marine Corps code talkers.
Stovall said he's honored to be a part of the Shiprock community that will be honoring its veterans.
"The biggest thing is we're trying to teach our youth here at Shiprock High the importance of what these brave code talkers and veterans have done for our country," Stovall said. "There's a lot of pride in the 381 code talkers for the Navajo Nation that did a great thing for our country in World War II."