Sequoia Pathway Pumas football

Front from left: Lavon Neal, Logan Keller, Alex Montano, Rocco Prentice, Zeke Jaramillo, Brenden Lurch, Damarion Keeton, Robert Sciuto. Top from left: Daimon Lyons, Jyrei Gamble, Yufiel Jones, Tre Lacey, Andre Smith, Demetrice Johnson, Izaiah Stewart, Marcus Keeton, Jonathan Romero Dominguez, Quentin Lara , Weston Klee, Jeremiah Irvin, William Robison, Thomas Boyd, Demonee Demar.

Though fall sports have gotten off to a rocky start due to COVID-19, Sequoia Pathway Academy football coach Donnie Margerum is already proud of his tentative lineup for the upcoming football season.

“The majority of my skilled players are back for the season so we have a pretty good team and we should be looking to make a good run this year,” said Margerum.

Right out the gate, some star players have already made their names known as leaders on the team. Senior Yufiel Jones is coming back to the team this year as a tight end and linebacker, Margerum says “he’ll be running the show this year.”

Quarterback Alex Montaño will also be returning to the team, and Margerum says junior receiver and safety Jyrei Gamble “should be able to have a good breakout season this year, I’m looking forward to some things he’ll do.”

Official tryouts happened on Sept. 7, with the Pumas gearing up for their first year in the AIA division 2A after moving up last year from the CAA. They went undefeated in the last regular season, but lost in the championship game to Gilbert San Tan Charter.

Margerum is in his second season coaching the Pumas, and he says his coaching style this year will be multifaceted.

“We run a multiple-style offense, we’ll give you multiple looks depending on what team we play so we’re very multidimensional, we’ll be able to switch it up depending on where we’re playing,” said Margerum. “Defense-wise, we’ll run a 4-2-5 and we’ll be very fast with a lot of athletes on the field.”

As far as his personal coaching style goes, though, Margerum says he’s tough on his boys to keep them in top shape both on and off the field.

“I’m a little old school,” Margerum said. “I coach hard, I have high expectations for my kids, high expectations for them in the classroom. … Yesterday, we had a little study hall for the boys. We’re just trying to teach them how to be student-athletes and how to approach everything the right way.”

The coach says there are a lot of students at Pathway who have athletic gifts, but aren’t using them to their full potential. He hopes to uplift the players’ spirits this year and help them to aim high.

“One of the most rewarding parts of coaching for me is just seeing kids achieve goals, seeing them reach heights that they didn’t think they can reach, pushing kids past their past the limits that they thought they had,” said Margerum. “A lot of them believe it’s D1 or bust, I just want them to realize that football is a great tool to use. It can take you anywhere in life and it doesn’t have to be Division I college football.”

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.

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