The Ridge Point Panthers have had a rough few years when it came to deep playoff runs. Last year they were knocked out in the first round after a tough loss to the Katy Tigers 35-28. Though this year has been such an up and down year the Panthers have managed to earn a district championship title and make it to the third round with the plan to continue past it.
The Panthers are currently 7-2 going into this weekend game against the also 7-2 Atascocita Eagles.
The Panthers' offense is packed with elite players like Sr RB Keith Jackson, Sr. WR John Paul Richardson, and Jr. QB Bert Emanuel. While on the defensive side they have Sr. MLB Frank Osagiede and So. DB Taylor Davis. Alongside many other playmakers, the Panthers are bound to put up a great fight against the Eagles this week.
VYPE U has caught up with Panthers' Head Coach Rick Lafavers to ask him a few questions about him and his team...
VYPE U: It has been such an up and down season for everyone this year with Covid going on. How have you kept your boys focus throughout the season not only on the field but when it comes to staying healthy as well?
RICK LAFAVERS: It definitely has been challenging. We really communicated daily with both players and parents the importance of everybody doing their part in this and follow protocols and safety measures. It was a constant reminder. As far as focus goes, they are doing what they love and it's much easier to focus on something you love and is important to you. They have all been great in that regard! Very proud of them and their maturity and focus day in and day out. We talked early in the summer (via zoom) and throughout the season of just focusing on the moment and getting better each day. To not look ahead…Focus on the now! Control what you can control!
VYPE U: You and your team have advanced to the third round for the first time in about five years. How does it feel to come into a program and make a change like that in such little time?
RICK LAFAVERS: Well it certainly feels good obviously but it isn't me, it is these kids and this staff! The kids have bought into what we are trying to do and believe in and trust each other and trust our staff. The love and chemistry on this team are incredible! That is the secret sauce. Yes, we have tremendous individual talent, but we are much stronger together than we are individuals.
VYPE U: What are three things the Panthers need to adjust before going into their next game against Atascocita?
RICK LAFAVERS: We need to continue to get better. I asked each player today to find something they can get better at. Whatever that one thing is, get better! When we do that collectively we will have improved this week. As a team, we have to do better on 3rd down both offensively and defensively. We struggled last week on 3rd down and it allowed Jersey village more opportunities. We have to convert 3rd downs on offense and continue to move the chains and be efficient on offense. Defensively we need to get off the field on 3rd down and force our opponent to punt and get the ball back to our offense.
VYPE U: What are three advantages you think the Panthers have going into their next game against Atascocita?
RICK LAFAVERS: Well I am not sure we have any particular advantage over Atascocita! They are a very, very good team and very well-coached. They have athletes at every position. We both have the same record. It will definitely be a dog fight and heavyweight match-up! We are excited and blessed for the opportunity to play and represent our school and community.
VYPE U: Do you have any pregame rituals you must do before every game?
RICK LAFAVERS: Yes – I don't eat my pregame meal (Chick-fil-a) at the school. I save it. Once I get to the stadium I take my meal, put my AirPods in and walk the field down to the far endzone and I go up into the stands and sit down and eat my CFA meal while listening to music and watching my players throw the ball around. I love it because the whole team is out. Some have their own routines. Some are stretching and are to themselves. Others are throwing the ball around. Lineman is pretending to be WRs and QBs. They are just like little kids out in the front yard having fun! I absolutely love just sitting there and watching them! Then right before we go out as a team for the game, we circle up in the locker room, I say a few words of encouragement and give some last-minute reminders. We then grab hands and a player will lead us in prayer and then we finish by saying the Lord's Prayer all together, then we immediately exit the locker room and run through the Big Panther and Smoke! Love every second of it!
The Panthers will take on the Atascocita Eagles this Saturday at 1 pm at the TDECU Stadium to determine who will continue on to the Region 3 6A Division 2 Quarterfinals. It will be a game full of competition that you don't want to miss.