SHIPROCK— The Shiprock Chieftains open the 2014 football season on the road Saturday when they travel to Silver City to take on the Fighting Colts at 2 p.m.
The Chieftains finished last season at 4-6, prompting a coaching change that has James Snyder taking charge of the program this season.
In his first game at the helm, Snyder and his Chieftains are facing a daunting task in the 2013 3A runner-up Colts.
But like the Chieftains, this season's Colts are a much different team than last season, looking to replace 15 players lost to graduation.
Entering the season, Silver was tasked with putting together new offensive and defensive lines, as well as putting a new quarterback under center.
With the changes to the offense, Silver head coach Butch Branson has said the Colts won't be operating with a complex playbook, running the majority of their plays out of just a few formations.
The challenges facing the Colts new starters will be beneficial to the Chieftains, who with a new head coach are adjusting to new schemes themselves.
Like Branson, Snyder said that during the early part of the season the main focus for both the Shiprock offense and defense will be keeping everything manageable.
"I've really tried to get every position, on offense and defense streamlined, cutting out all the jargon," Snyder said. "The main thing is we want to keep it all manageable. I don't want to go with a bunch of personnel packages and get too complicated."
Entering the game, the Colts are looked at as the favorite after their state championship appearance last season, but with all the changes to both sides of the ball for Silver and Shiprock, any outcome is possible.
"The bullets are flying from here on out," Snyder said.