Anthony Nava was called in to coach the 2017 edition of the Sequoia Pathway football Pumas. Photo by Michelle Chance

The Sequoia Pathway Pumas will begin their season Sept. 1 under direction from a head coach for semi-professional teams in the Arizona Football League.

IF YOU GO
What: Sequoia Pathway football season opener
When: Sept. 1, 7 p.m.
Where: Pacana Park, 19000 N. Porter Road

Although head coach Anthony Nava is new to the Puma administration, he’s familiar with the team.

In addition to coaching semi-pro, Nava most recently led Casa Grande’s Mission Heights Preparatory team. Nava’s lineup played against the Pumas during his three-year coaching position at the charter school.

Given the Pumas’ competitive reputation, Nava said the opportunity to head the program was a “dream come true job” after former head coach Demond Williams resigned.

“Obviously everybody knows they won state last year (…), so it’s been really good to take over a program like this where the kids are eager to learn, they want to play football, and there’s no excuses from them,” Nava said.

Prior to Mission Heights Prep, Nava coached nearly a decade for his alma mater, Casa Grande Union High School.

As a student, Nava played for CGUHS all four years, graduating in 2003. He then played collegiately an additional year for Eastern Arizona College.

Although the Pumas are coming off a successful season, Nava is inheriting a program of young players.

Starting quarterback Jacob McIntyre and running back Shane Miller are both sophomores, along with most of the team.

“There is a lot of really young talent here, up-and-coming kids that didn’t get a lot of playing time last year because there were some pretty good people in their positions ahead of them,” Nava said. It’s just really a good thing for younger kids to (…) get out of the shoes of other people and lead this program now.”

Nava said the team’s youth won’t stop it from returning to the Canyon Athletic Association’s state championship this year.

“I tell them every day, ‘The only team that’s going to stop us, is us,’” Nava said.

Pumas open the season Friday at 7 p.m. at Pacana Park against American Leadership Academy.

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