Brandon Newcomb

Brandon Newcomb

The 2021 football season is off to a bad start for Alchesay with the Falcons’ first two games canceled due to health and safety protocol.

Alchesay was scheduled to open the season at 6 p.m. Friday by hosting Window Rock, but that game was called off by a mutual agreement between the two schools last week after a coach on the Alchesay staff tested positive for COVID-19, head coach Brandon Newcomb said.

In addition, a Sept. 3 home game against San Carlos also will not be played, according to a schedule on

Alchesay also had a scheduled scrimmage on Friday in Globe canceled.

The Falcons’ first game now is slated for Sept. 17 at Pinon.

On Aug. 5, after three days of practice, an assistant coach for the Falcons tested positive for COVID-19, and on Aug. 10 another coach and “five or six players” also were positive after further testing that involved “deep-nostril” exams for the whole football program, Newcomb said.

As such, the Falcons did not return to practice until Aug. 16, missing about 10 days of work. Heavy rains and about 1 inch of water flooding the football field also interrupted workouts. After a Friday-morning practice, the Falcons have had only four full days of work since Aug. 2.

The mood and attitude amid the program is as positive as possible, Newcomb said.

“We got over 60-some odd kids out. The kids are eager to play. They want to be there. Kids their age they think they’re invincible. They think they’re ready to play right now. There might be a little frustration. The easy thing to do is quit, shut it down then you don’t have to worry about making any arrangements,” he said. “The difficult thing is to find a way, but we got to be smart, we got to be safe, be in a good position. We can’t just put people out there that don’t know what they’re doing.

“They were quarantined. They didn’t get any practice in. The kids want to be out there and I think the parents want them out there for the most part. But there is that concern that a lot of the families are living with elderly people in that age group that if you get COVID your chances of dying go up or go down however you want to read the graph.”

In the meantime, Newcomb is scrambling to arrange a quick scrimmage before his team plays an actual game on the books.

“We would love to get a scrimmage with somebody next week that maybe are in the same boat as us to where we can get on the field, coaches be on the field, stop play, correct stuff. We haven’t even been able to do that in practice let alone throw the kids out there in a game,” Newcomb said. “It looks like we might play Scottsdale Prep the 3rd or the 2nd (of September, in a real game.) What I’d love to be able to do for Aug. 27 is get somebody we can scrimmage.”

COVID-19 restrictions canceled the Falcons’ 2020 season. The last time Alchesay played football was on Nov. 8, 2019, against Phoenix Christian in the first round of the state playoffs.

“We’re not nine days behind. We’re a year and nine days behind,” Newcomb said.

The Falcons are not alone in this dilemma. At least six other season-opening games for Aug. 27 have been canceled, according to — Tuba City at Greyhills Academy, Joseph City at Cibecue, PDSD at Mohave Accelerated, Many Farms at Rock Point, Miami at Red Mesa and Pima at San Carlos.

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