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Despite injuries, regional changes, Panthers ready for football season

By Sue Sitter - | Aug 21, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby Panthers jump over bags in a practice drill at Rugby High School.

Despite changes in regions for North Dakota high school football and three injured players, the Rugby Panthers charged into practice in mid-August to prepare for the challenges.

Coach Travis Risovi, who brought the young team last year to wild card status for post-season play, said he expected more “good football” from the Panthers.

“We lost a couple of good seniors last year, but for the most part, a big part of our whole team is back,” Risovi said.

“We do have a couple of players who are injured,” Risovi acknowledged.

Andrew Lamar, who also plays on the co-op Bottineau-Rugby Braves hockey team, attended practice with his arm in a sling. Starting quarterback Brody Schneibel, who Risovi said was “healing well” from a torn ACL, also remained sidelined. Back up quarterback Lathan Demontigny wore black tape around his sprained ankle.

“It’s stuff they can recover from. Thank goodness we dodged a bullet and nothing was a major break or anything like that and hopefully they can recover in the next couple of weeks,” Risovi said.

The Panthers will also see new opponents in their 2021 fall season as a North-West 11B team. The Bottineau Braves, who played in Rugby’s district last year, have moved to nine-man status. New Town, Stanley and South Prairie/Max are on the Panthers’ schedule this year. Velva now co-ops with Garrison.

The Panthers will play four of their eight regular season games at home.

Risovi said he expects good things this year for Panthers football.

“We ended the year really well last year. We were playing good football,” Risovi said.

“I was looking at our defense roster the other day and there are eight out of the 11 starters and the same on offense. We have experience and we have game time and we have a good defense and a good offense. Right now, I’m really liking what I’m seeing as a whole on the team. Everybody’s doing their jobs and learning.”

“Our quarterback will be Erik Foster,” Risovi said. “We had Brody with his injury and believe it or not, Lathan was our backup quarterback and he’s injured. But we all know what a good athlete Erik is. He just knows sports and he gets it.”

“We’ll see come Friday night what happens, but I really like it so far,” Risovi added.

The Panthers would travel to South Prairie High School Aug. 20 to take on the Royals. The Panthers will play their first home game Aug. 27, when they face the Bishop Ryan Lions.

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