Division II, Section III
Coach: Preston Jones
Last year’s record: 7-4, lost to Marcos de Niza in first round of 5A-II playoffs.
Returning starters offense: 1, quarterback Josh Uhlorn, who completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. He’s also been a four-year starter at defensive back.
Returning starters defense: 4, including outside linebacker Shelby Dillard, a captain and 3-year starter with Div. I college potential at 6-1, 225 pounds.
Schedule: Aug. 26 vs. Casa Grande; Sept. 2 vs. Apache Junction; Sept. 9 at Queen Creek; Sept. 16 vs. Marcos de Niza; Sept. 23 vs. Gila Ridge; Sept. 30 at Vista Grande; Oct. 6 at Poston Butte; Oct. 14 vs. Basha; Oct. 21 at Barry Goldwater; Oct. 28 at McClintock
Sept. 9 at Queen Creek: You could also say the prior week’s matchup against Apache Junction would qualify as a key game. Even though A.J. and Queen Creek are a division below the Pumas, both matchups will be interesting because the Pumas have few opponents within their own section (let alone division). That means they’ll need these victories to eventually stay in the playoff hunt.
Oct. 14 vs. Basha: On the other side, playing up a division (Basha is Division I) will be a huge challenge against their nearby neighbors. This will be a great late-season litmus test for Perry as it prepares for that stretch drive. Can they play with the big boys?
Oct. 28 at McClintock: Since Perry only has three sectional games (Goldwater, Marcos de Niza and McClintock), it’s hard to figure out how this regular-season finale can affect section standings. But it could be the difference between a playoff spot and the offseason, and the Chargers figure to be an improved bunch.
This is a school that could have the biggest beef with the new divisional and section alignments.
Perry plays five games within Division II (Barry Goldwater, Gila Ridge, Marcos de Niza, McClintock, Queen Creek), and all but Q.C. are inside Section III.
That means one game is against a higher opponent (Basha) and four are against lower-division schools. But even though smaller schools such as Williams Field, Higley and Campo Verde are all within five miles of Perry, they are not on the schedule.
It doesn’t make sense to Pumas coach Preston Jones, but with a lot of growing up and rebuilding to do following a successful 2010 season, the Pumas don’t have time to wallow.
Josh Uhlorn returns for his second season as the starting quarterback, but Cedric Simmons’ graduation means little-used Max Arredondo and Dalton Bluebaugh will need to flourish quickly at running back. To do that, the Pumas will need a (practically) brand new offensive line to gel quickly.
Jones is excited about the return of Logan Watts, a wideout who didn’t play last year as a junior in order to focus on baseball instead.
Things appear a bit more stable defensively. Speed will have to trump size for Perry, but Uhlorn leads an experienced secondary and linebacker Shelby Dillard will stay outside after briefly moving to middle LB during spring.
But, similar to the offensive line, most of the defensive line is new to varsity competition, and, as everyone (including Jones) knows, success always starts up front.