Football prepares for match of the season

With the title of state-champions leering so close to the grasp of the football team’s gloves last season, this year the expectation has been set higher than ever. Following their victory at Boulder Creek, the Pumas are fired up to play the Wolves, the team that broke the hearts of Perry fans and players in Tucson the previous year.

The Wolves have a record of beating the football team; every year since Perry’s opening, Chandler has reigned victorious. They remain a powerhouse this year with five of the top twenty players in the state on their roster. However, as fans know, last year’s state championship game against Chandler was lost by a single touchdown.

“Last time we played them, we played them well and we played them close,” head football coach Preston Jones said.

During preseason, senior quarterback D’Shayne James tore his ACL: a career-ending injury. As a result, Chubba Purdy has stepped up, hoping to fill the giant shoes his brother Brock left when he went to Iowa State. Purdy faces one of the best defenses in the state, led by inside linebacker Zach Bowers.

To beat the Wolves for the first time in Perry history, Purdy says, “We just gotta ball out and everyone’s gonna have to do what they gotta do, do their assignments, so that we can beat them.” Purdy continues, listing mental mistakes, both offensively and defensively, as an area of their game that they can eliminate to come out on top this Friday.

Defensive guard Justin Clatterbuck is preparing to face the second best QB in state, Jacob Conover. Clatterbuck says the defense is focusing on “slowing down the offense [and] keeping the ball out of the playmaker’s hands.”

Jones reiterates that the defense’s focus is on: “not giving up the big plays, defending the pass, and maintaining gap integrity.”

As in any sport, when a undoubtedly grueling game approaches, an athlete’s emotions can begin to play a role in their performance. Especially with the closeness of last year’s game and the amount of pressure on the athletes’ shoulders, Jones speaks of the coaches’ role against Chandler, “We gotta just keep reminding them that it’s only one game. It’s not gonna make or break our season.”

“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there,” Jones said.

This quote, forever in the minds of both current and former players of Jones, manifests the mentality of the Pumas, both against Chandler and in their daily lives. The coaches work to better the players skills both on the field and in life. They try to teach life skills, leadership, and most importantly integrity.

The Pumas believe that hard work can get you anywhere. Just as Chandler did not become two-peat state champions overnight, Perry will not miraculously beat Chandler; the Pumas will have to give their all in this battle and it is becoming evident that they will.