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RANGELY I The Rangely Panther football team held a scrimmage on Yeager Field last week, in preparation for their first game of the season at home against Dove Creek.
“The scrimmage went very well,” said head coach Paul Fortunato, who started his third year at the helm of the Panther football team. “Everyone stayed healthy and the guys are coming along.”
Coach Fortunato said there are 27 players out for the team, which plays in an eight-man format. They have been practicing since Aug. 12.
“We have been healthy, injury-free and the guys are working extremely hard,” Fortunato said. “We lost some really good players last year, so there are some big shoes to fill. We are going to have to continue to work hard, and I think we have some guys that will be able to fill the shoes.”
The Panthers will be led by four seniors, Cameron Enterline, Wesley Goddard, Ryan Wilczek and Lucas Heinle.
“Cameron is a returning All-Conference player and we expect him to be a big part of our offense this year,” Fortunato said. “Wesley didn’t play last year, but he was an all-conference linebacker two years ago and he should make a huge impact defensively for us.”
Fortunato said Wilczek will be a key player on the offensive and defensive lines and tailback/linebacker Heinle “should be a big play maker for us on both sides of the ball.”
The Panthers finished the regular season with a 5-3 record and a playoff berth, but Fortunato expects to “take it further.”
“As a team, we are striving to make it back to the playoffs and to be able to host a playoff game this year,” Fortunato said. “We will have to finish in the top two in the league to do so.”
Fortunato is thankful for assistant coaches Gary Denny, Ryan Torsell, John Irvine and Travis Witherell and the support his programs have received.
“I want to thank all of the parents of my players, my assistant coaches and the community for the support they have given me over the years in football and baseball,” Fortunato said. “Without everyone’s support, we would not be able to help these men succeed. Please come out and support us this fall and help us build toward another successful year.”