Coach apologizes, seeks support as Aztecs face challenges of a ‘new era’

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Hopes of launching a new era for the Corona del Sol football team got a serious setback in July when school officials suspended new head coach Zane Zamenski for using what was said to be inappropriate language during pre-season training sessions.

The Aztec squad had a 4-6 record last season and missed the playoffs. Bringing in Zamenski was considered a way to get the team back into contention.

Zamenski, who was hired in February to replace long-time Corona del Sol football coach Gary Venturo, was ultimately retained in the job after a two-week investigation. His reinstatement, though, did not come without conditions. 

The school board agreed to return Zamenski to coaching football and teaching physical education, but imposed a no-tolerance policy on his verbal interaction with students.

He already had been suspended for five days without pay and, in addition, received a formal letter of reprimand and was directed to attend sensitivity training. He also was required to meet with parents, apologize and answer questions about his behavior.

At that meeting, Zamenski read a statement admitting he made mistakes and asked for  forgiveness, patience and support. He said his intention in returning to the program was to regain the parents’ and players’ trust and respect.

Zamenski, only the third head football coach in Corona’s history, already had missed the week-long team camp in Snowflake, and the season is quickly approaching. The Aztecs are scheduled to play their first game Aug. 27 against Desert Mountain.

While some parents and players seem to accept Zamenski’s apology and are ready to move forward, others are still skeptical about Zamenski’s ability to earn back their trust and respect in time to salvage Corona’s football program.

Some question his ability to change a coaching style he was exposed to as a young football player and then practiced for years as a coach.

At any rate, events over the past few weeks have upended a football program that had high hopes for the upcoming season.

It may take some time to recover, regardless of which side of the 50-yard line you happen to defend.

About the team

Corona’s football team lost 31 seniors to graduation, which means only 16 players returned, seven who were starters on last year’s team. Looking through the returning varsity players, it appears they will have skilled players on their offensive and defensive lines but have very few offensive players with varsity experience.

The Aztecs will have Todd Peat, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior to anchor their defensive line. Peat played only six games due to injury last season, but still averaged over three tackles a game. He has been working hard all summer on his conditioning, speed and football skills.

Junior Andrus Peat, Todd’s brother, at 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, prefers the offensive line but will also shore up the defense. He will be a force to be reckoned with because he too has gotten stronger, quicker and more skilled during summer workouts.

Joining the Peat brothers on the defensive and offensive lines will be 6-foot-3, 245-pound, senior Kyle Carreno, who played in seven games last season with a total of 14 tackles.

Also returning are defensive and offensive linemen senior CJ Anderson, who played in four games last season, earning six tackles and one sack, seniors Avery Moss, Alex Pike and Logan Reyas.

The Aztecs needed a new quarterback after three-year starting quarterback Chase Cartwright left for NAU. It appears that junior Kyle Busk may be taking over that spot when the season opens Aug. 27.

Also returning is senior Tre Chambers, who played running back and defensive back last season, averaging 4.4 tackles per game with two interceptions and one touchdown.

Look for some action from junior Dominic Mecurio, as running back and line backer, who carried the ball 59 times last season for 298 rushing yards. The 5-foot-10, 185 pound, Mecurio also averaged almost three tackles per game.

The team should also return senior varsity players Brandon Davis, who played in five games last season and was credited with six tackles, Kevin Zumino, James Markman, Case Kofka, and Rashad Armstrong as tight ends, running backs and line backers along with junior Kyle Jorgensen and newcomer-to-varsity sophomore Evan Kinney.

The Aztecs will start the season with four out of five away games. First up, CdS will be at Desert Mountain on Aug. 27, followed at Red Mountain on Sept. 3, Desert Ridge Sept. 10 and finally at home against North Canyon Sept. 16 before heading off to Mesquite on Sept. 24.

Predicted to be Corona’s most difficult competition in the Central region this season are the games against Mesa Mountain View, Desert Ridge and Basha.

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