It was a cool night in Monument Valley Friday, October 25 when the Whitehorse High School football team paid a visit to their southern rivals for the 39th annual Battle of the Drum football game. The stands were full of folks mainly cheering on the underdog Cougars.
Early on, it looked like the game would be a head-to-head struggle all night long. But the Raiders began to win the battles at the line of scrimmage, establish their running game, and move the ball down the field against the Cougar defense.
It wasn’t a running back who opened the scoring however. Late in the first quarter, Whitehorse drew first blood when senior quarterback Hugh Pelt hit receiver Deondre Benn on a touchdown pass over the middle.
From that point, the Raiders took advantage of Monument Valley miscues to stretch the lead to 26-6 by halftime. And they didn’t look back, outscoring the Cougars two touchdowns to one in the second half on the way to a 38-12 win.
Whitehorse spread the scoring around in the game. In addition to the Benn TD, they got touchdowns from Tyjuandro Benally, Rashawn Nakai, James Vasku Jr., Anthony Morales, and Dominique Lansing.
The win gives the Raiders a 21-18 edge in the football rivalry series, and relocates the Drum to Montezuma Creek for the first time in almost nine months.
Raider Head Coach Elliott Benn said the win was huge, not just for the school, but the entire community of Montezuma Creek.
“A lot of people were approaching the coaches and telling us to bring the Drum home,” he explained. “We told the boys that the rivalry goes back many years and that this was a big deal.”
For head coach Calbert Lameman on the Monument Valley side, the loss came down to his team shooting themselves in the foot. “We caused our own problems which took our momentum and ability to move the ball effectively,” he detailed.
Whitehorse ends their 2019 season with a 4-2 record in independent play. It’s the Raiders’ best year of football since they won five games in 2015.
Monument Valley closes the season with a 3-3 record, and they’ll look to take the Drum back from the Raiders when they meet on the basketball court this winter.
As far as football is concerned, Coach Lameman expects to have a good team next fall since he’s returning a large group of starters.
Coach Benn said one of his favorite things about coaching the Raiders this season was the support the community of Montezuma Creek gave the team. “The culture has kind of changed in our area,” he explained.
“We had a lot of people tell us that we were doing a good job and to keep it up. I haven’t experienced that in a while, so it was really nice to have the community recognize and engage and be part of our season.”
And next season is looking up for Whitehorse also. The entire line will return in 2020, and Coach Benn is excited about a group of sophomores and juniors who will make up a strong linebacker corps.