AZTEC — Eric Stovall’s coming home.
After stops at Shiprock and Newcomb the previous five years, he will take the helm as Aztec’s next football coach.
“It’s humbling. It’s an honor, and I’m looking forward to coming back home. We’re just excited to get off and running,” Stovall said. “The Aztec football tradition is an important piece we will build on moving forward. It’s one of the premier jobs, in my opinion, in the state of New Mexico. The kids have high expectations.”
Stovall's lived in Aztec the past 15 years, but he commuted to Shiprock and Newcomb for his coaching duties.
Stovall replaces Matthew Steinfeldt, who stepped down after eight seasons to become the next football coach at Bear Creek High in Lakewood, Colorado.
Aztec Athletic Director Bryan Sanders was adamant Stovall could adequately be that next staple in the AHS football community.
“Our program has a history of long-tenured coaches. We don’t want be getting new coaches all the time,” Sanders said. “He’s been part of the community. He’s pretty heavily invested in Aztec.”
Ties go way back
Stovall was an assistant coach at Aztec from 2007-2012, coaching special teams, wide receivers, fullbacks, quality control and defensive line.
Stovall was also the head football coach at Koogler Middle School from 2009-2011. He then spent time in Farmington in 2013-2014, serving as a football and basketball coach at Heights Middle School.
“It’s helped (me) to become well-rounded,” Stovall said.
That, in turn, led to him coaching at Shiprock from 2015-2017, followed by Newcomb in 2018 and 2019.
Stovall, who tallied a combined record of 37-18 at Shiprock and Newcomb, said he learned how to better manage personalities and logistics required of a head coach.
Stovall won three district titles (two at Shiprock, one at Newcomb) and made the playoffs four times since 2015.
“I’m really proud of my time out west (in Shiprock and Newcomb),” Stovall said. “I’m going to miss those kids. It’s two great, awesome communities.”
A smoother transition for Aztec’s pass-happy offense
Stovall said he will continue running the air raid spread offense, which uses trips formations and improvised wide receiver/running back motions.
“We’ll throw the ball all over the place,” Stovall said. “We want to score effectively, we want to score fast. Obviously, with that comes tempo.”
On defense, Stovall said all 11 players must do their job, whether they’re in zone or man coverage.
Stovall’s ties to Aztec’s football program have come full circle, and he’s ready to go.
“His enthusiasm definitely shows through. I think that’ll play well with our kids and our fans,” Sanders said. “He’s always been a fiery guy.”
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @MattH_717.
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