Maricopa athletes working for spots on this year’s high school varsity teams: (from left) Sequoia Pathway Academy volleyball players Lynniece Andrews, Kelsey Blatz and Keara Simpson, Maricopa High School cross country runner Megan Carr, SPA soccer player Brian Gardner, MHS football players Taylor Belcher, Kemo Akin and Cameron Sanders, MHS volleyball players Tyla Gooden and Mackenzie Ford, and SPA football players Jacob Burbo, Cade Bell, Richard Joaquin and Tyler Burton. Photo montage by Victor Moreno
- SPA Volleyball
Dawnell Haupt returns to Pathway for her fourth year as head coach of the varsity Pumas volleyball team. Most of the team is also returning, and the Pumas are expected to make a run for the Canyon Athletic Association title.
2. MHS Cross Country
The boys’ cross country team defied expectations last season and earned a spot in the state championships. They lost a couple of senior leaders but still have eyes set on qualifying meets at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the girls have struggled to field a consistent team. Both boys’ and girls’ teams are coached by Heather Abel, and both will be in competition Aug. 30 at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler.
3. SPA Boys’ Soccer
After a four-year hiatus, Pathway will have a varsity boys’ soccer team in the fall this year, led by new head coach Juan Garavito, who saw good participation in summer clinics and camps. The school didn’t have the student population to support a soccer program, but enthusiasm was recently renewed after a co-ed program at the junior high was introduced last spring.
4. MHS Football
Led by head coach Chris McDonald, the Maricopa Rams’ first action is a scrimmage at Notre Dame Aug. 11. They open the season Aug. 18 hosting Willow Canyon and then play at Paradise Valley Aug. 25. The Rams were 5-5 last season and finished fourth in 5A Metro in its first season of existence.
5. MHS Volleyball
The Rams’ volleyball team posted a 9-9 record in 2016, their first season with coach Jecksan Quinones. Maricopa returns to action Aug. 24 in a scrimmage at Valley Christian. The Rams’ first season game is at Vista Grande Aug. 29, and they host Paradise Valley Aug. 31. They have two tournaments scheduled.
6. SPA Football
The Pathway Pumas will be led by a new head coach this season. Anthony Nava was an assistant coach for Casa Grande Union High School, as well as a coach for semi-professional teams in the Arizona Football League. Pathway’s season begins Sept. 1 at Pacana Park against Gilbert’s American Leadership Academy.
Maricopa’s boys’ and girls’ golf teams will be under the tutelage of coach John Tobin but with different schedules. The boys’ home course is Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. Their first competition is Aug. 29 at Seville Country Club in Gilbert. The girls, who played instructional league last year, don’t play until Sept. 11.
SPA Cross Country
Coach Justin Price will return to lead Pathway’s varsity cross country team. Athletic Director Nate Wong hopes new practice times will breed faster, stronger runners. The team will practice at 6 a.m. instead of the afternoon.
For complete schedules, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar/.