Monument Valley suffers season-opening loss to Whitehorse but the team is optimistic for season

by Rhett Sifford
Sports Editor
The Monument Valley High School football team opened their season on Friday, August 18 with a tough 40-6 loss to the Whitehorse Raiders at home. It was the first Battle of the Drum of the season.
Recently second-year head coach Brad Upshaw shared his thoughts on the new season and his team. Here are his comments:
SJ Record: Can you give your thoughts about the team in general as you get started?
Brad Upshaw: We’re all moving in the same direction. Last season there was a learning curve for everyone involved. This year we’ve got a plan with some goals and everyone is working towards improving each day. The exciting part is we’re not just working we’re building a stronger base for our players to develop.
SJR: Have any players surprised you with their growth and performance since last year?
BU: Shayden Fatt has been a pleasant surprise for sure. The sting of last season’s struggles is something he and I are on the page with. He’s been a beast in the weight room and has grown in his understanding of the systems. He’s ready to take on some more challenging leadership responsibilities.
SJR: Are there any strong young athletes coming up?
BU: Tashawn Nez is a young player who has also been committed to the weight room. He’s a tough kid but very calm in his demeanor. He brings a positive presence to the locker room and has taken some junior high players under his wing. I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the team this year.
SJR: Who do you expect to step up into leadership roles this season?
BU: I expect our seniors to lead this team. Joshua Hicks and Melias Cly have the experience and knowledge to help the team come together quickly. We’re still working to find roles and opportunities for everyone but based on their history, those two players will have every chance to lead this team.
SJR: Where do you expect to have strengths this year?
BU: I expect our strength to be at the quarterback position. We have multiple players with QB experience and capabilities. We began rotating those players with some success late last season. The command of the offense coming from multiple players will guide this team.
SJR: In what areas might you need work?
BU: The change in responsibilities from 11 to eight-player has been the biggest challenge. We had multiple players peg themselves as “I’m this” or “I’m good at that.” But in the eight-player game you have to have hybrid players and you have to train them to think that way. It’s a work in progress and an area where we need to improve, in coaching, teaching, practicing, and applying it on game day.
SJR: How do you stack up to region/state competition this year?
BU: We don’t like losing. I expect us to be more competitive than we were last year. As a coaching staff we have a better understanding of making the right adjustments to keep our players engaged. I’ll admit, last year we didn’t make adjustments quickly enough and that wears on your players. They know when you’re out of ammo and it’s demoralizing. We’re aware of that. 
SJR: What do you hope to accomplish as a team this season?
BU: We hope to stack some numbers in the win column. Most importantly we want to find an identity for our football team.
The Altamont Longhorns are paying a visit to beautiful Monument Valley this Friday, August 25. Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.

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