RANGELY I “This year was a tough year,” Rangely head football coach Paul Fortunato said after his team lost to the Plateau Valley Cowboys, 68-30, in the final game of the regular season on Yeager Field.
The Panthers finished the season with a 2-7 record and will begin working toward next year soon.
“After losing a great senior class last season, it was definitely a rebuilding year,” Fortunato said.
This year, the seniors were Nakoma Bailey, Jimmie Sherman, Kiki Ruiz and Jesse Powell, and each of the the players started and led the Panthers.
Bailey, an offensive and defensive lineman, recored 81 tackles during the season and recovered two fumbles.
Sherman finished the season with 67 tackles and two fumble recoveries on defense and he caught seven passes for 72 yards, including one touchdown for the Panthers.
Ruiz became a 1,000-yard rusher for the Panthers, carrying the ball 225 times and gaining 1,048 yards during the season. He scored eight touchdowns and 12 two-point conversions.
Powell caught 12 passes during the season for 230 yards and he scored one touchdown. He also recorded 66 tackles on defense, recovered one fumble and had two interceptions.
“On a positive note, we started several freshmen throughout the year, which, in the end, will pay off,” Fortunato said.
Devon Ramirez was one of the starting freshmen coach Fortunato spoke of. Ramirez played quarterback for the Panthers and completed 19 of 51 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran in three touchdowns during the season.
“I appreciate all the support from the school, parents, my coaches and, especially, the hard work all of the guys did,” coach Fortunato said. “It was just a down year; it was tough but good.
“We learned a lot from it and will start the off season as soon as possible,” he said. “The freshmen are already wanting to get into the weight room. We will regather for 2016 and come back stronger.”