Chieftains overcome sluggish start to earn first win
SHIPROCK — After a slow first half, the Shiprock offense came alive in the second half to defeat Newcomb 20-6 during the annual "Battle of the Rock" football game Friday night at Chieftain Stadium.
Shiprock coach Eric Stovall said his team returned to basics in the final two quarters, allowing the Chieftains to come out on top.
"I told them, 'You've got two choices — you can go home 0-2 or you can go home 1-1," Stovall said, citing the team's loss to Red Mesa last week in Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.
Stovall said the team has to learn to play well for all four quarters if it is going to defeat Dolores, Colo., next week. The Chieftains lost 24-14 in last year's meeting against the Bears.
While the Chieftains pulled ahead in the second half, the Skyhawks scored the only touchdown of the first half after two Shiprock penalties brought Newcomb to the 4-yard line late in the quarter.
Early in the second half, Shiprock senior Quaid Shorty scored the Chieftains' first touchdown. Then senior Guy Lee kicked a field goal to give the Chieftains their first lead of the game.
Later in the third quarter, senior quarterback Aarwin Chee ran the ball 20 yards to the 5-yard line, allowing junior Kieon Harvey to score a touchdown shortly thereafter. Another Lee field goal increased Shiprock's lead to 20-6 at the start of the final quarter.
"My hat's off to Newcomb," Stovall said. "The Newcomb kids played their hearts out, and I was very impressed."
Newcomb coach Shawn Miller said he was impressed by his team, which has a lot of players in new positions.
"We should have capitalized on a couple drives," Miller said. "We got into the red zone about four times in, you know, the first quarter."
Miller said his players never quit.
"When Newcomb comes to town, we're going to give you a shock," Miller said.
A ceremony at halftime honored veterans and memorialized brothers Sgt. Marshall A. Westbrook and Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook.
The brothers were killed in combat in Afghanistan. The jerseys with the numbers they wore when they were Chieftain football players were framed and will be displayed at the high school.
Newcomb athletic director Eric Arpelar said the ceremony was special and collaborative.
"To me, I felt that it was more than a game," he said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Shiprock player who scored the first touchdown.