BISBEE — Going by the talk on Twitter and preseason rankings, there was a lot of hype for one charter school that moved up to the Arizona Interscholastic Association this season, but it wasn’t Sequoia Pathway. Yet while preseason favorites San Tan Charter went to Eloy and lost 61-0, it was the Pumas who showed they belong in this league.
Pathway was welcomed to the AIA with a long road trip to Bisbee (also the Pumas), but made a great first impression, riding 236 yards and four touchdowns passing from Alex Montano, as well as 291 total yards from Izaiah Stewart to win their AIA debut, 38-22.
“I knew all week it was going to be tough competition, and it was,” Pathway coach Donnie Margerum said. “But our boys came up and balled out.”
Margerum, speaking to PinalCentral over the phone on the way back from southern Arizona, said Pathway tried to establish the run early, leading Bisbee to stack the box against them. This opened up the field for the passing game, with Montano finding Stewart and Yuziel Jones for two touchdowns each.
After an early fumble and subsequent Bisbee touchdown put Pathway behind and gave them a sense of how AIA football can go, Margerum said his team hunkered down and took the lead by halftime. They then got another touchdown to start the third quarter to pull further ahead. A late interception by Jyrie Gamble sealed the game.
The situation reverses this Friday, as Tombstone will be making the long journey to Maricopa as the Pumas will host their first home game in AIA, at Pacana Park.
“I think we showed that we can be a hard, tough-nosed team if we need to,” Margerum said. “And we can also use our speed if we have to. It showed we’re ready.”