Panthers split final two
The Rugby High School football team entered its final two games of the regular season looking for two wins to insure a playoff berth.
The Panthers took 1 of 2, and will likely head to play Hazen, the state’s top-ranked team, in the opening round of the playoffs.
Rugby’s offense, which had sputtered in recent weeks, found its groove in defeating Surrey 54-8 at home on Oct. 11.
But Rugby’s offense was not quite as explosive five days later, as the Panthers fell 15-6 to Des Lacs-Burlington, the state’s fourth-ranked team.
Against Surrey, the Panthers scored in a myriad of ways, both on the ground and through the air.
Panthers head coach Scott Grochow said there were two key factors to the Rugy offensive line getting production.
“Our offensive line was aggressive and controlled the line of scrimmage and our defense did a great job of get the ball back to the offense,” Grochow said.
Chris Hamilton caught a pair of touchdown passes from Brad Heidlebaugh and also ran in a 65-yard kickoff return for a score.
Hamilton and Heidlebaugh were a big scoring combination for the Panthers last year and Grochow said that connection could be key as the postseason nears.
“It was nice to have those two be able to hook up for a couple of scores,” Grochow said. “With the playoffs coming up that is something that we will need to keep doing and be consistant with it.”
The Panthers also got good production from their backfield.
Eric Hooker scored on a 7-yard run and Victor Gronvold scored twice on the ground, once from 65 yards out and another time from 22 yards.
Kade Leier and Heidlebaugh both added running scores as the team was again without running back Tanner Bernhardt.
“I believe it is very important (to have depth in the backfield),” Grochow said. “We need to have fresh legs back there and each one of them gives us a different look.”
Rugby’s offense seemed to dry up against DL-B, albeit a much tougher opponent than Surrey.
The Lakers struck first with a safety in the first quarter.
DL-B followed with two touchdowns in the second quarter.
Cole Edwards caught a 12-yard pass from Austin Schestler for for TD but the point after failed, making it 8-0. Josh Haugrose made it 15-0 with a 39-yard interception return for a score.
Rugby finally got on the board in the fourth with a Heidlebaugh 5-yard run, but couldn’t solve the Lakers defense for much of the game.
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