MARICOPA — It was a wild finish to the season for the Sequoia Pathway Pumas. The team went into the final week in a three-team battle for the region title with rivals Tanque Verde and Santa Cruz Valley, but with their win over 3A team American Leadership Academy-Ironwood, and their position in the AIA power rankings, the Pumas earned their second straight playoff berth.
The Pumas will come into the playoffs as the 14th seed, and will go up against the 3rd seed, and reigning 2A Conference runner up, the Benson Bobcats.
Head coach Donnie Margerum is thrilled to get another crack at the 2A championship, after being forced out of last year's opening round matchup against Morenci due to COVID-19. He says the team is ready to go and ready to show that they belong.
“It feels good to be an upcoming program in 2A and make the playoffs two straight years. I think it shows that we are on the right track,” Margerum said. “I think the boys deserve to be where they are at. It was definitely a tight race at the end of the season, but I had a feeling that if we won last week, we would get in.”
Sequoia Pathway is led by a strong core of running backs, with seniors Tre Lacey and Tyshaun Mooney. The tailback pair have taken the bulk of the Pumas’ snap share, and have produced strong numbers all season, with Lacey collecting 742 rushing yards, and Mooney shortly behind with 665 yards.
To go along with their big yardage numbers, the pair have combined for 17 rushing touchdowns.
“Tyshaun came in as a transfer and is coming on strong, he really gave us some good balance on the offense,” Margerum said. “While Tre is more of a slot receiver type guy, he really had to hold down the fort until Tyshaun was able to play. With Tyshaun being here, it opened up our passing game a lot since other teams have to respect the run.”
Speaking on the Puma passing game, senior quarterback William Webber found success this year while under center. Webber surpassed the 1,000 passing yard mark, and connected on 13 touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions.
Margerum has high praise for his quarterback, saying how he is always cool under pressure and is the perfect anchor for the offense.
“Webber is a good kid, he has a really calm demeanor about himself, he doesn't get too excited, and never gets too down on himself on bad plays,” Margerum said. “He is that perfect dynamic that you need at quarterback. He is a good leader. Having him out there is big for us.”
Although it is never easy to be facing the reigning state runner up in the opening round, Margerum believes in his squad and believes in their abilities. He says he knows his team will not back down to the challenge Benson will bring, and knows his team will work hard to get to where they want to be.
“We know how those guys play. They are a tough team, so we are gonna put on our hard hats and be ready to play a hard-nosed game,” Margerum said. “We are expecting a tough fight, but I think we are ready for it. We were a whole different team in the second half of the season, so we will see how this thing goes.”
The Pumas will travel down to Benson to face the Bobcats on their own home turf Friday.