Gilbert (Ariz.) Perry is getting ready to play the biggest game this season on Friday at defending 6A champion Chandler.
But football is taking backseat this week, as Perry players deal with the drowning death of sophomore defensive back Brayden Mason, a junior varsity player who was close to being cleared from an injury to play. The incident occurred last Sunday at Bartlett Lake.
Mason, an up-and-coming player who figured in Perry’s future plans, was 15.
It shocked the Perry community.
“He’s our family and right now all we can do is be there for his family and keep everyone together,” varsity coach Preston Jones said.
The Chandler Unified School District is on fall break this week, so it’s been harder to do that.
“He was a good player, great kid,” Jones said.
Counselors have been offered to the players in the program, despite no school this week.
The program is trying to collect enough money to offer something to the Mason family and to have something in Mason’s honor that stays at the school.
Patches are expected to be worn for Friday’s game at Chandler.
And collections are being taken for all three levels games this week — freshman, JV and varsity.
On the ‘Perry HIgh School Touchdown Club — Go Pumas’ Facebook page, this was posted on Wednesday:
Thank you for the outpouring of support for the Mason Family and Puma Nation. At this time, the family is planning a private service for Brayden. The Perry Football family will be collecting donations in the stands during the following football games this week; Wednesday at Chandler (6pm), Thursday at Perry (6pm) & Friday at Chandler (7pm). For those who are not local and have asked where to send cards, donations, and condolences we will be collecting them on behalf of the family. They can be sent to the Mason Family, c/o Frank Mason P.O. Box 11963, Chandler, AZ 85248. We would like to respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time so will update information as we receive it.
This is the second time this season that the Perry football program has rallied to help during a tragic circumstance.
In early September, two-way JV lineman Alex Edjourian’s family lost their home in a fire.