Zone Read: Pumas Playing With Heavy Hearts

Arizona Sports News online

Back off the Zone Read bye week healthy, rested and ready to hit the hole as we move into October. I sincerely wish we could ease into something a little lighter but this is at the top of everybody’s mind out in Gilbert.

Praying For The Pumas

The Perry Pumas will be playing with heavy hearts and a little extra motivation Friday when they travel to take on Chandler

Mason, 15, a sophomore defensive back tragically drowned over the weekend. The school announced they would be providing helmet stickers to the players to wear this week against the Wolves.

On the field, head coach Preston Jones and the unbeaten Pumas (6-0) are doing their best to focus on football, despite playing with heavy hearts.

“Coach’s main message has been that we have a huge opportunity in front of us and he wants us to take advantage of it,” senior quarterback Brock Purdy said to “Just play every down like it’s your last because you never know what can happen next.”

More importantly, if you’d like to help out the Mason family.

Bear Necessities 

Meanwhile down the road at Basha, the 1-6 Bears are still finding their way under first-year head coach Rich Wellbrock. One of the smaller 6A rosters has seen nine players leave the program since the beginning of the season, including former starting junior quarterback Collin Collins.

Wellbrock’s coaching success at Desert Edge and other programs along the way has always been cemented by an up-front, simple approach he brought with him at every stop: you’re either all in or all out.

“We have asked for a different level of commitment,” Wellbrock explained to “We have provided a program where you have to earn your position every day. We are making a cultural shift.”

Part of that shift starts behind center with two-sport athlete Connor Phelan taking over for Collins. An accurate passer, the junior has brought energy and already provided spark to an offense which is averaging just over 20 points a game.

Don’t be surprised to see a few a changes when the Bears take the field Friday to battle fellow 1-6 Premiere Section member Brophy. 

Getting Defensive

I’m running out of adjectives to describe the coaching job Richard Taylor has done during his long-tenured stay at Centennial. Andrew TaylorThis week, however, it’s only appropriate his son, and defensive coordinator, Andrew shares the spotlight after the Coyotes’ defense shutdown and shutout national power St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) 12-0 last Friday night in Peoria.

“I told Andrew that he and the defensive coaches did a great job,” Richard Taylor said to “It was worth him staying up until two in the morning all week.”

The unbeaten Raiders entered last week averaging nearly 33 points a game. Centennial’s hard-hitting, chip-on-the-shoulder defense surrendered just 203 total yards and seven first downs to a team loaded with Division I talent. It was the first time St. Thomas was shutout in over two decades.

Despite the monumental win, Taylor was quick to keep things in perspective with his team following the game.

“Great win,” Taylor said. “But what is your goal?”

Practice Makes Perfect

Over the summer in this column I told how playmaking Vail Cienega quarterback Jamarye Joiner was working to enhance his skill-set entering his senior season for the Bobcats who reached the 5A state semi-finals in 2016.

The University of Arizona commit scored 30 combined touchdowns last year in 13 games. Through six contests this fall, he’s already accounted for 24 scores. 

The biggest improvement has come from Joiner’s powerful arm. His 13 touchdowns is only four less than he threw all last fall.

“Jamarye was always a great athlete with tremendous athletic ability,” Bobcats’ head coach Patrick Nugent said to “But he has now added the pass game to his talent and is understanding reads and pass concepts to become a complete quarterback.”

Cienega, coming off a big 30-20 win over fellow Tucson heavyweight Salpointe Catholic last week, travels to Sahuaro (3-3) on Friday. 

One Less ‘Bird In The Cage

The Chaparral Firebirds have been a popular, pardon the pun, landing spot for transfers over the past 10 months but one player decided to return to his roots as 6-foot, 280-pound sophomore guard Tre Williams left school and returned to Mountain Pointe where he originally attended.

According to a source close to the situation, football wasn’t the problem and reason Williams left the north Scottsdale school.

It’s still unclear if he will be able to retain any eligibility this season.