Denetso stepping down as head coach of Navajo Prep football

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Rod Denetso has decided to step down as head football coach at Navajo Prep, ending a four-year stint which saw the Eagles make the postseason last fall.

Denetso, who has served two separate tenures as head coach of the Eagles, has decided to step down in order to further concentrate his efforts as an administrator at the school.

Serving as dean of student life according to the Navajo Prep website, Denetso said the responsibilities of the head coach deserve to be handled by someone who can concentrate their efforts more fully in that role.

"In a leadership role, I have to be more accountable for students residency and have to be able to utilize my schedule better," Denetso said, "It's a time consuming job, as it is being a football coach."

Over the course of six seasons dating back to 2012, Denetso has a record of 36-30 at Navajo Prep, his best season coming in 2013 when the Eagles went 10-2 and advanced to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.

Denetso stepped down in 2015 after three seasons as head coach, citing a need to further his education and pursuit of a master's degree. 

Denetso returned to the sidelines as an offensive assistant coach at Shiprock High School in 2017, working for Eric Stovall, who was head coach for the Chieftains at that time.

After one season at Shiprock, Denetso returned to the head coaching position at Navajo Prep in 2018.

His most recent four-year stint as head coach included a missed season in 2020, when the program was shut down entirely due to the pandemic and a stay-at-home order by the Navajo Nation, which effectively prevented the school from holding any sporting events at that time. 

In 2021, the Eagles went 5-6 and advanced to the Class 3A playoffs after sweeping their opponents in district competition. Navajo Prep was knocked out of the playoffs by Hope Christian by a final of 57-36.

Roderick Denetso, shown here on the Navajo Prep sidelines during a game this past season, has announced he is stepping down as Eagles head football coach.

Denetso cited family and professional responsibilities for his reason to step away.

"With kids in college, and wanting to see them participate in sports, there's always something pulling you," Denetso said. "With the administrative role here at Navajo Prep, the preparation and offseason programs deserve someone who can handle all those responsibilities."

Denetso is the third San Juan County high school football coach to step away from the sidelines during this offseason. Last month, Stovall resigned the position at Aztec High School and Kirtland Central's Jeff Schaum announced his resignation after one season on the job.

"I'll miss the kids, for sure. That'll be the hardest thing with this," Denetso said. "Especially this past season, these kids wanted to come play football here and it was such a unique situation for all of them and us as coaches."

There are no plans at this time to fill the head coaching vacancy for the football team.

"Right now, those decisions are in the hands of (athletic director) Rainy Crisp," Denetso said.

Attempts to reach Crisp for comments on this story have not been successful.

Navajo Prep head football coach Roderick Denetso watches from the sidelines during a game against Tohatchi, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at Navajo Prep High School.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.