Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

North football preview

September 19, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

By Oree Foster

Az. Preps 365 Staff Sportswriter

Red Mesa is a team to watch this football season.

Red Mesa, a member of the 2A Little Colorado Region from the North, has produced an undefeated 4-0 mark. Red Mesa will reach the halfway mark of the regular season this Friday at 7 p.m., traveling to Rock Point (0-4) to face the Cougars in a region ball game.

Red Mesa head coach Pita Olomua and his son, assistant coach Bristol Olomua, have transpired the team into 2A statewide contenders.

"I call the offensive plays and Bristol is the defensive coordinator," the elder Olomua said. "The players are dedicated to the football program. The players worked hard with strength and conditioning during the off season. When the regular season began, the players were at practice on Saturdays."

Olomua has been guiding Red Mesa's football program for 20 years.

"I was an assistant football coach at Ganado, then I became the head football coach at Red Mesa," he said. "I left Red Mesa for four years. I returned to Red Mesa. The players have bought into the football program. This year's seniors have been with the program for four years, beginning as freshmen."

Four seniors are the heart of the football program. Quarterback/outside linebacker Darian Horce, running back/safety Hunter Pipkin, running back/outside linebacker Roland Begay and tight end/defensive end Keanu Smith have been providing the leadership.

"Our players play both sides of the ball," Olomua said. "A key to our success is the fact that we have nine seniors on the team. The seniors help our younger players progress."

Olomua said team work is a key to the team's success. He said all the players help each other on and off the field.

"Our offensive and defensive linemen are young, they are learning," he said. "Our offensive and defensive line are freshmen, sophomores and juniors. We have one senior. Our future looks good."

Olomua's son, Bristol Olomua, has been a blessing to Red Mesa's football program. Bristol was a three-year starting tight end for Texas Tech Red Raiders. When Bristol completed his college football eligibility, he was selected to compete in the Hula Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, playing for the West All-Stars.

A severe back injury prevented Bristol from playing in the NFL, as he failed his physical examination.

Earlier this season, Red Mesa defeated three 3A North Region teams, including Tuba City, 50-0; Chinle, 44-27; and Kayenta Monument Valley, 22-14. Red Mesa won its fourth game of the year, downing the Greyhills Academy Knights, 60-8, last Friday.

Mike Morgan-coached St. Johns is a team to watch this football season. St. Johns has worked its way to an undefeated 5-0 record. St. Johns has a bye this week. St. Johns is preparing for its longtime annual ball game against nearby rival Round Valley Elks next Friday, September 28 at Eager Springerville.

St. Johns has posted victories over Tempe Prep, 54-12; Rock Point, 61-0; Blue Ridge, 27-18; Globe, 61-0 and Pinon, 72-8.

Morgan, who has been a head coach at Ganado and St. Johns for 38 years and an assistant coach for three years, said majority of his players are underclassmen. He has five seniors on this year's varsity.

"I have a lot of juniors and sophomores and some freshmen on this year's team," Morgan said. "I am loaded with underclassmen. The players are working together and helping each other."

Morgan has praised the work of junior quarterback Ramon Sanchez, senior wide receiver/defensive back Kiren Ulibarri, and junior wide receiver/tight end Graham Neilson.

Morgan said stepping up to provide leadership are junior offensive/defensive lineman Tate Skoulsen, junior offensive/defensive lineman Joseph Lucero, junior running back/linebacker Tanner Crosby, junior running back/linebacker Mark Vallejos, and senior tight end/defensive backl J.J. Womack.

"We are halfway through this season," Morgan said. "When we begin the second half of the season next week, our season will be tough. We begin playing our region games. There are a lot of quality teams in our region.

In North football games this Friday, Blue Ridge (2-3) is at Ganado (3-1); Kayenta Monument Valley (0-4) at Pinon (2-3); Chinle (1-3) at Payson (2-2); Tuba City (1-3) at Winslow (3-2); and Holbrook (1-2) at Window Rock (2-2).

Also, Many Farms (0-4) at Alchesay (3-1); and Greyhills Academy (0-3) at Hopi (1-3).