SILVER CITY— In Shiprock's opener to the 2014 football season, the Chieftains headed to Silver City on Saturday where they ran into the force that is the Fighting Colts, losing 49-0.

"Well, Silver is one of the top programs in the state," Chieftains first-year head coach James Snyder said of Silver, who reached the 3A state title game last season. "One of the biggest things was giving up too many big plays. They had a few long scores that really hurt us."

Snyder said part of the challenges on the defensive side of the ball rests in the fact that the defense is young and inexperienced, starting two freshman at linebacker and two sophomores in the secondary.

While the outcome was one-sided, there were encouraging points from the Chieftains offense.

"As the game went on we actually played better," Snyder said. "We moved the ball well at times and strung a few first downs together. It wasn't completely horrible, just a lot of mistakes. But they were correctable mistakes."

Snyder said one of the issues on offense was just not having enough rhythm, but that those issues will fix themselves as the team spends more time on the field, building more chemistry.

The best performance for Shiprock came from the offensive line.

"The offensive line executed really well at certain points in the game," Snyder said. "They got a good push, and you could tell when the play was being executed correctly. I don't think they gave up a sack in the game, and we threw the ball a lot."

With the loss, Snyder doesn't want the Chieftains to reflect on the negative, but take away the positive steps made and gain a better understanding of the big picture. He said he hopes the players can see that what they're trying to do can work, and that it is going to be a long process to get where they want to be.

"I'm still very proud of our kids. They played hard the whole game," Snyder said. "One thing we're going to take away is that the kids never quit. You can tell when they do and we never did."

Shiprock will have its home opener this Friday against Bayfield, Colo. The Wolverines are coming off a 48-6 victory against Kirtland Central on Friday.

Karl Schneider covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and Follow him @karltschneider on Twitter.