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No one reflects that confusion of purpose more than Hopi High's star quarterback and safety, Jarrett Huma. "It's hard to be a Hopi in the 20th century," the shy teenager wrote in a school essay assignment. "Everything in a Hopi is emphasis on the life of all living things. You are taught to be humble and generous."
Quarterbacks, on the other hand, are taught to be cocky and dominating. Huma, a junior, passed for 2,923 yards as a sophomore and set northern Arizona prep records for total offense, passing yardage and touchdown passes (game and season). This season Huma has not had such sure-handed receivers to throw to, and his numbers have fallen off—which, according to Otterman, has made his teammates and Huma himself more comfortable. "Individual success," says the coach, "makes them uneasy."
Greg Wahnee, a senior flanker who is one of the few Hopi High players who has lived off the reservation, agrees that the Hopis are not football naturals. "I'm a Comanche." says the native of Lawton, Okla., "and when I came here, I found out the Hopis weren't as aggressive." The streetwise Wahnee smiles and adds, "I'm a different Indian."
To stir the Hopis' competitive fires, Otterman sometimes resorts to classic coaching technique and becomes what he calls "the yelling motivator." He does so with trepidation, because the previous varsity coach lost his job when parents and tribal leaders complained that he verbally abused the players and encouraged them to retaliate when they were behind in games by hurting opponents. In one breath, Otterman explains how he must get his players to change—"I've got to get those guys to hate to lose"—and in the next, he chastises himself for undermining Hopi culture, saying, "The school staff really freaked out when I told them we were doing exactly what the missionaries tried to do—de-Indianize the Indians."
It is a stressful role for Otterman, who lives with his wife, Tammy, and what will soon be seven children a hundred yards or so from the school, in a boxlike adobe house owned by the U.S. government. And while he hides his burnout symptoms from his players and students, it would take a magician to hide the bureaucratic bungling that has plagued Hopi High's football program from the beginning.
When the new school's stadium was deemed complete in May 1987, it had no rest rooms, no concession stand, no press box and no fence to keep out non-paying spectators. Those frills weren't in the stadium specifications. And at first no one noticed that the goalposts had been installed 110 yards apart instead of the customary 120, leaving only 90 yards between the end zones.
The goalposts were later corrected, free of charge, by the contractor, but the other shortcomings remain. The lack of a fence, besides hurting home-game revenues, allowed roaming cattle and sheep to graze on the field. When Otterman went to a Hopi rancher to complain, the weather-beaten old man snorted and said, "Those cows were here before you, and they'll be here after you've gone."
The biggest screwup, of course, was letting the stadium turf die. No one stepped forward to accept blame for that, but the school's previous principal and the school business manager both resigned amid accusations of mismanagement. When Otterman took over the football program in July, at the request of the Hopi school board, he and the players inspected the stadium field and declared it unusable. "When we saw that field," recalls Duvaughn Figueroa, a senior who plays tackle and defensive end, "we felt like no one cared about us."
The school board accepted Otterman's recommendation, and Hopi High suddenly faced a daunting schedule—eight road games, some as far away as a five-hour drive—and a total cutoff of ticket and concession revenues.
Practicing proved to be no picnic, either. The only usable land was a weedy patch maybe 40 yards wide and 60 yards long, below the school and behind the tennis courts. The school has no mowers, so the players stomped down the grass themselves and drove out the rattlesnakes and scorpions. A sprinkler fed by a long hose keeps the ground soft enough to use, but there is no real grass—just clumpy weeds and cow pies. The footballs turn white with dust.