Playing football for Monument Valley High School isn't easy.
The school is located on the edge of the iconic scenic valley right on the Utah-Arizona border, meaning long-distance travel for the majority of its games. Most of the athletes have never played the game before strapping on pads for the first time in high school. Since the team is lucky to have 25 players most years, players have to go both ways.
Yet the Cougars finished 3-6 last year, losing to eventual 1A champion Duchesne in the quarterfinals. And watching a game at the scenic field is one of the real delights in Utah high school sports.
"We are hoping and expecting to have a very good year," said coach Jim Dandy. "Our strengths are speed and experience. We are in a very tough region, but we feel like we can compete with all the other great teams."
Top returning players are running back and linebacker Terrell Blackmountain, quarterback and defensive end Keevin Bedonie, wide receiver and cornerback Sergio Morales, and running back and linebacker Malcolm Begay.
"My biggest concern going into the season would be the young players and how they will adjust, and also injuries because of playing 'ironman' football," said Dandy.
The coach said that since most players have no experience when they start the program, it takes them until their junior years to be effective players.
"I'm very happy how many of these players put a lot of effort into getting better every year," he said. "Most of them get pretty good at playing the game when they get into their junior year."
Last season • 3-6
Key returners • Running back and linebacker Terrell Blackmountain and quarterback and defensive end Keevin Bedonie should lead the Cougars this year.
Player to watch • Wide receiver Sergio Morales and running back Malcolm Begay could be scoring threats.
Biggest hole • The team only has 25 players, so depth could be a major issue.
Need to know • A national magazine put the Monument Valley football field in a story that included LSU's Death Valley, Michigan's Big House, Notre Dame Stadium and Green Bay's Lambeau Field as places to watch a football game before you die.