Expectations high for varsity football
Rugby High’s Varsity Panthers took to their practice field in a scrimmage against Nedrose High Thursday evening, August 16, and coaches Beau Eriksson and Travis Risovi liked what they saw.
“Our expectation right now is that we have a very good chance of reaching the playoffs,” Offense Coach Eriksson told the Tribune. “We have a lot of experience with our seniors and juniors, and we have a couple of sophomores with experience. That’s our expectation when we look at our region.”
“Offensively, it was nice to see them scoring touchdowns and running the ball hard. Defensively, we got stops. There were a few tackles for loss, behind the line of scrimmage,” Eriksson added.
No scores were kept at the practice game, which Eriksson said was put together with Nedrose’s coaches to give all team members time on the field.
“Big thing for us was knowing we got to hit someone else besides ourselves (our own teammates),” Eriksson said. For basically a week, we had four hour practices, from 7:30-11:30 am. I think the boys and myself were very excited those first few days, but at the end of it, it gets tedious, with long days. So, it was nice to actually get back into the rhythm and actually hit an opponent in a game-like situation.”
On the offensive side of the game, Eriksson noted, “We did score two touchdowns varsity-wise, and that was good to see. JV -wise, I had three running backs who ran hard all night. All line wise, there were a few errors, but that’s bound to happen. But, I thought they played really well, both varsity and JV.”
Defensive coach Risovi agreed. “I thought it was a really good night,” he said. “Everybody got a lot of time playing against somebody else. It gets monotonous every day when you play just against your own team, and it gets hard to see where your kids are at. You have freshmen playing against seniors. So, it was a nice night to get everybody to play at their own levels. The JV kids got a bunch of time against Nedrose’s JV; the varsity got a chance to play against other varsity players.”
Although both coaches agreed the Panthers’ season looks promising, they recognize challenges ahead.
“If you’re looking at teams (that may pose challenges), Carrington is probably one of the top teams in the state,” Eriksson noted. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were ranked No. 1 again this year. Park River was young, and they didn’t make playoffs last year, but this year, they bring a lot of experience back, and with them. They won back-to-back championships last year. Langdon was in the state championship last year, and they lost a lot of seniors, but I think they will kind of reload with a lot of juniors this year, too.”
However, Eriksson added, “By any means, there’s not a team we can overlook and just kind of show up and play.”
Another challenge will be to make sure we’re staying healthy, Eriksson indicated. ” I would say a big concern is that we just don’t have a lot of depth right now. We have 30 kids, and I think 12 are freshmen. Eighteen are sophomores on up. And that hurts, because our freshmen aren’t going to be ready to play on Friday night for the most part, so, lack of depth and making sure we stay healthy would be challenges for us going forward.”
Still, expectations remained high for the season opener Friday at Des Lacs-Burlington.
“(Des Lacs) has a very good team,” Risovi said. “Last year, we played them tough. We had a good game against them last year, and I think, overall, we’re a little stronger team than we were last year. Our expectations are definitely high, and we’re setting our goals high. I hope that we go out Friday night and we show them what we can do, and we see what the season’s going to be like for us.”