Cougar football team gets first win of season

by David Boyle
News Director

The Monument Valley High School football team earned their first win of the season, defeating Shiprock, NM 48-41 in Monument Valley on Thursday, September 7.
The Cougars wasted no time in the game when senior Josh Hicks received the opening kick at the 27-yard line. Hicks followed his blocks 73 yards to the endzone to give Monument Valley the first score of the game on the first play of the game. 
Head Coach Brad Upshaw said Hicks’s hard running was set up by some downfield blocks.
“Everybody did their jobs on the three blocks that set it up. It wouldn’t have happened if those blocks didn’t take place, so everybody is starting to learn how to play assignment football.”
The Cougars’ hot start continued in the first quarter as they built a 26-6 lead. Among the scores was another long play, a 95-yard touchdown run from senior Melias Cly. Again Coach Upshaw credited downfield blocking from receivers for setting up the long touchdown.
“I think what really contributed to the fight and the win was blocking assignments and everything was definitely crisper in that. That resulted in the two big plays.”
Upshaw noted that Cougar linemen Haylon Harrison, Tobias Gray, Brice Goodshield, Tarkale and Jack Tsosie, and others rotating in were assignment-sound. On the big run play Upshaw added the receivers and backs also helped with great blocks to spring Cly for the touchdown.
Two fumbles by Shiprock including one forced by Cly helped the Cougars keep the score 26-6 after one quarter but the Chieftains responded in the second quarter to gain a one-point lead at halftime 27-26.
“They made some adjustments,” said Coach Upshaw. “I told the team it was going to be a dog fight.” He shared that the team wasn’t used to playing with a lead and had to refocus at halftime.
“We had to focus on what it takes to win. It’s not something you can just sit back and enjoy. It’s a grind and we had to refocus at halftime.”
The Cougars responded by slowing the Chieftan offense in the second half.
In the third quarter, both teams scored one touchdown but a successful two-point conversion gave Monument Valley a one-point lead to start the fourth quarter.
They held that lead through the end of the game, scoring twice while allowing only one more TD to Shiprock.
The Cougars got most of their work done on the ground, racking up 375 yards in the run game. Senior Melias Cly ran for 253 yards on 28 carries including the 95-yard touchdown run.
Fellow senior Joshua Hicks ran for 71 yards on seven carries. Freshman Tashawn Nez earned 24 yards on seven carries. Senior Braxton Goodshield carried the ball once for a 17-yard touchdown. Junior Tobias Gray had five carries for 12 yards. And freshman Jace Tsosie had a carry for one yard.
While the Cougars earned most of their yards on the ground, points came through the air as well with four touchdowns coming in the pass game. Cly completed seven passes on 28 attempts for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Fatt threw one pass, a 22-yard touchdown to Hicks.
Hicks led Monument Valley receivers, pulling down five catches for 119 yards and four touchdowns. Goodshield also caught three passes for 32 yards.
Hicks also scored once more for the Cougars on an exciting 73-yard kickoff return. Cly also scored two two-point conversions while Goodshield had one catch for a two-point conversion.
Defensively Monument Valley was led by Cly who had 15 tackles and one forced fumble. Gray recorded ten tackles, as did freshman Owen Clark, including a sack and two fumble recoveries.
Junior Myron Benally had eight tackles while Hicks had seven tackles and one fumble recovery. Shayden Fatt recorded six tackles and one fumble recovery, while Nez had five tackles including two sacks.
While Coach Upshaw stated he saw room for improvement, especially in the passing game, he was pleased with the team’s effort against the much bigger Shiprock High School.
“It’s good for us to learn,” he said. “When you go up against stiffer competition, this technique or package doesn’t work, and you can lose trust in the process.
“When you have success doing it it’s a little easier to coach and to play. It builds that trust between what we think the players are capable of and us putting ourselves in positions to make plays.”
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight. I thought they looked at us like the get-right team and that was the message I gave my team. We can’t let that happen.
“I did feel like they were working to break out. The bigger test is going to be Friday against Water Canyon. It’s a good football team we’re going to play. Part of the process is to go there and take things we did well and put them to work against a tough opponent.”
The 1-3 Cougars hit the road this Friday, September 15 to take on the Water Canyon Wildcats, also 1-3, in Hildale, UT. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.

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