Tonight’s matchup vs. Mesquite 1st ever meeting of the Jones’

Emma Kline, Staff Reporter

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Tonight fans will flock to John Wrenn Stadium for a match up of two 1-0 teams, as Perry hosts the Mesquite Wildcats.

The game marks the first time the two Gilbert schools will have met on the gridiron, and it also will serve as a family reunion as head coach Preston Jones will, for the first time in his career, look across the field and see his mentor, his father Jim, on the opposing sideline.

As a child, Preston Jones looked up to his father – a head coach at high schools like Cortez, Westwood and Red Mountain. During his youth, Jones was always around his father’s teams.

“I hung around my dad’s teams,” he said. “My first football game was when I was seven days old.”

By the time he was a kindergartner, Jones was a fixture on his father’s sidelines, and the players were role models to the future Puma head coach.

“I think always being around allowed me to learn,” Jones said. “As a young kid, I was surrounded by several hall of fame high school coaches.”

Jim Jones has, in many ways, shaped the PHS football program. He noted that over the years, “three of [Perry’s] coaches played for me. I don’t like the idea of losing to them.”

The roots go even deeper. When Preston Jones was a child, assistant coach Louis Nightengale was a quarterback for Jim at Cortez.

“I remember him coming over for dinner. I would get the boxing gloves out and he would get on his knees and I would box him,” he recalled.

Even principal Dan Serrano has ties to the veteran MHS coach.

“Your principal at one time coached for me,” Jim Jones said. “I’d rather not lose to him either.”

Both coaches are excited for the game, with Preston Jones commenting, “it’ll be fun for the boys, but not as much fun as it will be for my dad and I. We’re looking forward to it.”

While the Pumas and Wildcats are treating tonight like any other game, this East Valley match up might mean bragging rights within the family.

“It probably means a lot more to our families,” Preston Jones said. “My daughters are very scared.”

For MHS, the focus is on the X’s and O’s.

“[We are] spending more time on the minor details,” Jim Jones said.

“Perry is very well coached and has high energy players who play extremely hard.”

According to both coaches, this game will be a difficult early-season test.

“The [Perry] players are well conditioned and play to an up tempo style of offense which we must prepare for,” Jim Jones, who has been coaching for 43 years, said.

Preston Jones is also taking a football-first approach saying, “We won’t prepare different, every game is the same. Every game is huge for us, like a playoff game.”

 

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