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RANGELY I Playing on the road for the first time this season and without the services of its starting quarterback, who was sick with the flu, the Panthers were at a disadvantage before they even took the field.
And it showed in the final score, as Rangely lost for the third consecutive time this season, 32-6, to 3A opponent Coal Ridge.
Still, there were bright spots for the Panthers.
“We were able to move the ball,” said head coach Tim Galloway. “We believed going in we could play with them, and we did. We just didn’t finish the job.”
They had their opportunities. Four times in the first half, the Panthers were inside Coal Ridge’s 20 yard line, but failed to score. Rangely trailed at halftime, 20-0.
“We’d have a good run, then we’d have a motion penalty or we’d miss a block and they’d tackle us for a loss, and then we’re facing a third-and-nine,” Galloway said. “Nobody wants to be in those third-and-long situations.
“Our communication and our execution aren’t quite where they need to be yet,” Galloway added. “We’re just not finishing. We got inside the 20 two more times in the second half and didn’t get it done. It’s just a matter of the kids believing in themselves and believing they can get the job done.”
Running back Cole Barlow scored the Panther’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. He rushed 21 times for only 37 yards.
“Our running game wasn’t great,” Galloway said. “It’s just not quite meshing yet for whatever reason.”
With senior starter Patrick Phelan out with the flu, sophomore Kody Denny took over Rangely’s quarterback duties. Denny completed six of 18 passes for 93 yards and no interceptions.
“Kody made some key passes. He played pretty well his first varsity action as quarterback,” Galloway said. “He’s played a little for us in the first two games, but not at quarterback. The other kids stepped up as well. It’s taking care of the little things, taking care of the details. That’s the kind of thing that drives a coach nuts.”
Still, Galloway said the Panther players remain positive, despite the 0-3 start.
“The kids didn’t quit, which I was really proud of ’em,” Galloway said. “They realized as I do that this was a game we could’ve won.”
Barlow and Justin Goddard led the team with five solo tackles, while Kindal Cushman and Keane Raley had four solos apiece.
Galloway said the Panthers did a good job of responding to their first road game.
“I thought they handled the trip real well, both on and off the field,” Galloway said. “But we have to put four quarters together. We haven’t done that this season. We had a couple of meltdowns (against Coal Ridge). We just have to put four quarters together, where we’re solid every quarter.”
The Panthers are back home this week for a Friday game against Grand Junction High School’s junior varsity. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.