SHIPROCK – The Kirtland Central football team will have the same mockup as last year’s team.
The Broncos went 50/50 on the offensive end with the rushing game collecting 1,382 yards, which was four more than its passing game under Travis Clary’s first year at the helm.
“We return our top receiver and our top running back, so that gives us good balance,” Clary said of senior bruiser Demuscio Edsitty and senior wideout Noah Dineyazhe.
Last season Edsitty rushed for 658 yards and seven touchdowns while Dineyazhe caught 25 passes for 464 yards and five TDs.
The Broncos also return junior Bryle Matthews at quarterback under Clary’s run spread offense. One year ago, Matthews completed 62 of 134 passes for 862 yards and four TDs while rushing for 628 yards and 8 TDs.
“It’s really big to have those guys back,” the KC coach said of his three offensive weapons. “Those guys have that experience so we’re looking to lean on them to help shoulder the load.”
KC also returns junior Payton Mike at the running back position, having rushed for 87 yards last season.
“We’ll have a backfield with two running backs that are gonna be our workhorses,” Clary said. “This is definitely going to be stuff that we’ll lean on going down the road.”
The second-year coach returns seven veterans on both sides of the ball. With that, he said expectations have been elevated.
“We always want to push that bar,” Clary said. “Now that they have that experience under their belts, we expect to see more from them.”
The KC coach said senior Elijah Grey is going to be one of his top defensive linemen as he finished with 55 sacks last year.
The Broncos also return its entire linebacking core, which includes juniors Deronte Tso, Justin Henry, Nathan Tom, JJ Foutz and Jharrin Tyler.
“They’re a year older, so we’re expecting a lot from them,” Clary said.
The Broncos will start the season hosting Los Lunas Valencia on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Valencia is going to be good,” Clary said. “They hired a new coach and with that, things may be a little different. I told the boys that whatever comes at us, we have to be steady, and we have to be prepared.
“We can’t let anything shock us, so we got to do our homework,” he added. “They’re definitely going to have their homework done on us, so we got to do the same to be competitive.”
After Valencia, the Broncos take a week off before hosting Thoreau on Sept. 1, followed by two road games at Montezuma-Cortez Sept. 8 and at Rio Grande Sept. 16.
KC will entertain Grants Sept. 22 and Espanola Valley Sept. 29 and it will close out the nondistrict season by traveling to Pagosa Springs Oct. 6.
The Broncos will start district play by traveling to Bloomfield, the defending 4A state champs, on Oct. 13 before hosting Gallup Oct. 20.
The Clary-coached team will close out the regular season with Aztec at home on Oct. 27.
“It’s gonna be a good solid district,” Clary said. “One of the things I said last year, and I’ll still lean on it again, is that football here in the North is really good. Not just in our district, but if you look at 5A and 6A with Piedra Vista and Farmington with what they’re accomplishing.”
Looking at the district race, Clary said there’s no easy games.
“It’s gonna be a tough one to get through,” he said. “I love that because our boys are going to be pushed against that adversity and they’re going to get better because of it.
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