Rossville, GA (WDEF) Ridgeland enjoyed the greatest season in school history last year, making it to the state title game. While the expectations remain high this season, the Panthers will have to replace some talented players. Said safety Dillon Peterman,"Our goal is just win the state."
A goal the Ridgeland Panthers fell four quarters short of a year ago. Their trip to the Georgia Dome ending in a 45-10 state title loss. Now that they've had a taste, Ridgeland wants to seal the deal this season. Said Peterman,"We made it to the dome last year, and a bunch of people we had are seniors this year. We all know what it takes to win this year." Said head coach Mark Mariakis,"We are going to have to ask this year particularly, more than the 10 years I've been here, for young kids to step in. It's the first time we've had freshmen on our varsity squad. So it'll be a challenge but we are up to it."
It's a challenge made greater by the loss of their two super stars, running back Darrell Bridges and safety Vonn Bell. Said quarterback Hunter Kaufhold,"You don't find those guys anywhere. Those are irreplaceable guys. Darrell had 24 hundred yards. That's spectacular. And Vonn had 180 tackles. We are not going to be able to make up for those guys. We are going to have to have guys step up and try to fill their places the best we can." Said Mariakis,"Last year I think we proved it takes more than a single or two superstar kids that tote the mail and have the lime light. We've got some kids that can replace those guys. You know Noah Cooper at running back for Darrell, and Dillon Peterman will be at free safety, where Vonn was last year. But it will be a team effort, every kid from the scout team kids to the guys who are going to get their name in the paper every week has got to do their job."
The fanfare from the Georgia Dome has died away, but the same work ethic and game plan remain as the Panthers head into the 2013 season. Said Mariakis,"I think this year we may not have the big talent like we did last year as much. So it's going to be on perfection, and what we have to do right, and keep doing it right and stay on a routine. We are tweaking a little bit because our quarterback can do some other things that we couldn't do last year. But basically we are going to be the same with different names out there, and we'll see what happens."