MONUMENT VALLEY — With logistics being what they are at Monument Valley High School, the football team gathered for its first organized team conditioning session of the summer on Thursday, and coach Jim Dandy was pleasantly surprised.
With some talented seniors returning and quality freshman and sophomores coming into the program, Dandy said, “my expectations are a little bit high.”
The expectations are tame compared to some of the other 1A programs in the state, but after a 5-5 season in 2012, the Cougars hope to win a few games in Utah and then be competitive against fellow Navajo schools out of state.
Success this year hinges on developing a few lineman and getting senior quarterback Lawrence Atine excited about football again.
Last season Dandy said it was a struggle to get Atine to practice each day and accept a leadership role at quarterback. Getting him refocused and back to playing great football like he did during his sophomore year is critical.
“Hopefully he re-evaluates himself, knowing this is his last year,” Dandy said.
Atine passed for more than 2,100 yards and 22 yards his sophomore year, but that production came down last season.
Unlike most teams in Utah, the Cougars have an extra week to prepare with a bye this Friday. Dandy said he’s thrilled to start a week later because it gives him more time to address his offensive line.
“I’m trying to get more kids to play who are big," Dandy said. "That’s the biggest problem we have right now – we don’t have a very big line.”
That might not be an issue against Whitehorse, but against some of the bigger 1A schools like Kanab and Monticello, it’s a major issue.
If Monument Valley can get some consistency out of the offensive line, sophomore Terrell Blackmountain could have another strong season. He was a second team all-stater last season as a freshman.
Younger players such as Blackmountain are a big reason Dandy is excited to coach for Monument Valley in his second stint as head coach.
Monument Valley Cougars at a glance
Coach: Jim Dandy is entering his second season in his current stint as Monument Valley’s head coach. Previously he was the head coach from 1998 to 2009 and put together a 34-44 record during that span. His overall record now stands at 39-49.
(Five returning starters; Multiple formations)
While there are questions marks on the offensive line, the skill position players are talented for the Cougars. Along with quarterback Lawrence Atine and running back Terrell Blackmountain, twin brothers Keelin Bedonie and Keevin Bedonie are strong offensive weapons.
(Five returning starters)
The defensive front has one returning starter back, defensive lineman Collin Littlehat. The senior almost transferred to a school in Arizona over the summer but ended up sticking around. Dandy is thrilled he did because the program lost two contributors last year after their families moved out of state. The linebacking core should be decent with Blackmountain and the two Bedonies while Atine will start at safety.
Coaches preseason 1A South straw poll: Fourth
Deseret News 1A South prediction: Fourth
Bottom line: By its own standards, last season was good for Monument Valley. Not only did it beat some out-of-state teams, but it also beat Whitehorse and more impressively Milford to finish third in the 1A South region. With some key players back this season, another 5-5 season is realistic.
Monument Valley coaching history
2012-current — Jim Dandy (5-5)
2010-2011 — Powers Whiskers (8-13)
1998-2009 — Jim Dandy (34-47)
1993-1997 — Carl Sumsion (3-24)
1991-1992 — Babe Malufau (4-14)
1985-1990 — unknown (16-35)
1984 — Ollie Whaley (0-8)
Deseret News First Team all-state players the past 10 years
2009 — Josh Nelson, FB/S
2003 — Jeremy Tsinigine, RB/LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-state players through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
Follow Deseret News prep editor James Edward on Twitter @DNewsPreps
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