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SHIPROCK — A familiar face in the Shiprock football community, Anthony Clah hopes to revitalize the Chieftains after being promoted to head coach.

“It’s my dream job. This is the place I wanted to be,” Clah said today. “I’ll really be focused on developing character, individuals through football. The one thing I learned over the years is to play to the strength of your athletes.”

Clah was the Chieftains’ wide receivers and defensive backs coach in 2018, but he’s no stranger to the program itself.

Clah’s a 1994 Shiprock graduate, having played wide receiver and other various positions. He then went on to play college football at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Clah later returned to BYU as an assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2005 to 2009. He then became the head strength and conditioning coach for NCAA Division II BYU-Hawaii’s athletic department from 2009 to 2018.

BYU-Hawaii has no football program, so he spent three seasons coaching the wide receivers, defensive backs and special teams players at Hawaii football power Kahuku High from 2015 through 2017.

Clah’s recent experiences as a strength coach, combined with the Chieftains’ tougher 2018 schedule as an independent team, reinforced the need for an even stronger offseason training foundation.

“That was definitely a tough (2018) schedule. I’m just hoping for our current athletes that they have a little more motivation and drive moving forward,” Clah said. “I’m hoping to bring a solid offseason training program, which’ll include speed, agility and quickness. We’re facing teams that are bigger and in some cases stronger than us.”

Central Consolidated Schools Athletic Director Ben Tensay said Clah also approached him about developing talent through Shiprock’s middle school football program.

“That’s how you build a program. By the time they get to the high school level, you’re just reloading,” Tensay said. “We haven’t had a decent number at the middle school (players recently), so he’s going to build that up.”

Clah said he’s still assessing returning personnel to decide what type of offense Shiprock will run, but he has some ideas based on various formations he’s ran in the past.

Clah said Shiprock ran a Wing-T offense, featuring a tight end, two wide receivers and two running backs who can run, catch and block. BYU ran a west coast-style offense during Clah’s playing days.

On defense, Clah said he wants Shiprock to be even stronger against the run. Clah also said the secondary must do a better job recognizing when to keep dropping back or push up more to help make open-field tackles.

“They just weren’t reading the situation right. The (defensive back) has to be prepared for every situation,” Clah said. “I want to be aggressive on defense. All the teams that we faced, they were running teams.”

Clah replaces Michael Switch, who went 2-8 in one season. Switch was one of two coaches since 2014 to be one-and-done at Shiprock.

Clah doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but saidit’d be nice to end the recent one-and-done trend.

“You want to build something for the future that lasts,” Clah said. “I always approach jobs with that mentality. I want to do something great. It’s all up to me.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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