The Hopi High Bruins are all smiles after beating Pinon 52-0. Stan Bindell/NHO
The Hopi High spirit line cheers the football team on. Stan Bindell/NHO
Stan Bindell The Observer
Hopi High scored early and often in the first half to blast past Pinon, 52-0 in high school football action Sept. 20 at Hopi High.
The Bruins improved their record to 4-1 overall with the team's only loss coming from Ganado, a much larger school, in overtime.
Hopi High Coach Steve Saban said everybody played well for the Bruins.
"It was a good team win," he said.
Saban said the team leaders for Hopi were Blake Sekaquaptewa, Matt Honyaktewa and Charles Youvella. The coach said the offense played well and the defense was outstanding, coming up with their fourth shutout of the season. He said the special teams also performed well.
Saban said the victory was especially meaningful because the Bruins were missing nine players: eight because of academic ineligibility and one because of a discipline issue.
"We wanted to take Pinon out of the game early and we did just that," he said.
Saban noted that Hopi played its junior varsity players in the second half.
"Our second team played really well. They work really hard so we want to give them playing time," he said. "We have a lot of kids stepping up this year."
According to Saban, Hopi's goal is to win their section and make it to the state playoffs.
"We have a great group of kids and it's a pleasure to coach this team. This is the most pleasurable group of players I've had," he said.
This is Saban's fifth year at Hopi High. He has coached high school football for 15 years.
Lewis "Louie" Nuvayestewa, left tackle for the Hopi defense, said the game was enjoyable while it lasted.
"It was good that JV got to play in the second half and we got to see them in action," he said. "Shutting (Pinon) out was good payback for last year."
Nuvayestewa, a senior, said his goals for the season are to improve and play the best he can since this is his senior year.
"The team goals are to win the rest of the games, be 9-1 and make it to state," he said.
Hopi High needed only 20 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Pinon fumbled the opening kickoff and Wyatt Howard recovered. On the next play, Sekaquaptewa rambled 27 yards for the touchdown and Howard ran in the conversion points to give Hopi an 8-0 lead.
After Pinon gave up the ball on downs, Hopi moved 38 yards in six plays for the score. Howard set up the touchdown on an 18-yard run and scored on a two-yard plunge. Howard ran in the conversion points and Hopi led 16-0 with 7:14 left in the opening period.
Four plays later Pinon fumbled and the Bruins took over on the five-yard line. Honyaktewa scored on a five-yard quarterback keeper. Howard ran in the conversion points and Hopi led 24-0 with 5:15 remaining in the first period.
Two plays later, Hopi recovered a fumble at the 37-yard line. It took five plays to score. Honyaktewa scored on a three-yard run. A run failed for the conversion points, but the Bruins led 30-0 with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second period, Honyaktewa found Sekaquaptewa on a 36-yard touchdown screen pass. He also connected with Grant Pashano for the conversion and Hopi led 38-0 with 10:48 left in the half.
Later in the second stanza, Hopi recovered a fumble at the 48-yard line. Sekaquaptewa set up the touchdown with an 18-yard run. Sekaquaptewa scored on a three-yard run. The run failed for the conversion points, but Hopi led 44-0 with 4:32 left until intermission.
On Pinon's next play from scrimmage, the Eagles fumbled. The Bruins took over at the 33-yard line. Sekaquatewa broke loose on a 32-yard run and then scored on a one-yard plunge. Honyaktewa connected on a pass play with Pashano for the conversion points to bring Hopi's lead to 52-0 with 1:35 left in the second period.
Hopi used its junior varsity players in the second half and neither team scored.