published Friday, August 16th, 2013

2013 - Ridgeland Panthers

  • photo
    Ridgeland’s Noah Cooper is the most experienced player on offense for the Panthers this season.
    Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ridgeland Panthers

Coach: Mark Mariakis (65-38 in nine seasons here; 82-71 in 14 years overall)

Last year: 13-2, 5-0 in 7B-AAAA; lost 45-10 to Sandy Creek in the state final

‘13 dreams: Seven consecutive playoff seasons, including last year’s magical surge to the Georgia Dome, have lifted the Panthers to the status of programs expected to make good postseason run. Expectations aside, Ridgeland is a team with more unknowns than knowns, starting with the fact that only one returning offensive player, running back Noah Cooper, played significant minutes a year ago. There is some experience on defense, led by end Jermane Conyers, linebacker DeAngelo Smith and backs Zach Weathers and Dillon Peterman. That unit may have to win games this season.

13-for-13 contenders: Cooper takes over for 2,400-yard rusher Darrell Bridges at fullback in the wing-T attack after rushing for 800 yards a year ago in spot duty, while George Johnson returns from a knee injury to man one of the wingback positions. Ridgeland lost a lot of beef in the line, so Conyers will be counted on to be the team’s physical leader up front.

Number of interest: 13 — Games won by Ridgeland during last season’s memorable run, four more games than any previous team in school history.

13 years ago: The Panthers were 4-6 in 2000 in what would be the second of seven consecutive losing seasons. Coach Mariakis was the defensive coordinator at Chattooga, where he formed a lasting relationship with head coach John Starr. “Coach Starr taught me how to handle, deal and love those kids that most nobody else wanted to love — that tough kid that didn’t look, act or respond like most kids,” Mariakis recalled. “That prepared me for this, and those years meant a lot to me. I’m not sure if I could have survived here if not for those years at Chattooga.”

Program superstition: The Panthers have a set Friday routine that ends with a short video session of that week’s opponent. It was a routine they had to go to great lengths to follow before the Class AAAA championship game last December. Said Mariakis: “We don’t ever want to break our routine. We always watch a little film before we get dressed for a game, even though we’ve watched film all week long. Last year in the Georgia Dome, it caused some problems because all our film is off the Internet. Our county people set up a hotspot in the Dome so we could pull film and set up a projector and screen in the locker room, just to keep the routine.”

1-through-3: Senior linebacker Trey Stubbs

Q. Coming off the state title-game appearance everybody will be looking to make a statement against you guys this year. How do you handle that?

A. I kind of like people coming after us. If we want to go to the [Georgia] Dome again, we’ve got to handle things like that.

Q. What is the biggest question mark you guys have to answer before the season starts?

A. Are we a family or not? Right now the pieces aren’t there like they were last year. We lost a lot of pieces. We’ve got to come together as a team first before we can win. We’re not a family right now, and that’s a big concern.

Q. With all the offensive losses, does that put more pressure on the defense this year?

A. We do have to step up, but we also lost our last line of defense in Vonn Bell, our nose tackle in Gannon Hampton and our leader in Daniel Johnson. We’ve got some good pieces back. We’re a lot faster than last year overall and more athletic. We’ve just got to make the plays.

2013 Schedule

Aug. 30 Calhoun

Sep. 13 at River Ridge

Sep. 20 at Cedartown

Sep. 27 Pickens County

Oct. 4 at Dalton*

Oct. 11 Southeast Whitfield*

Oct. 18 Northwest Whitfield*

Oct. 25 at LaFayette*

Nov. 1 Heritage*

Nov. 8 Region play-in

*Region 7B-AAAA game

2012 Stats

Passing C-A-I Pct. Yards Tds

Trevor Long 29-59-3 49% 718 8

Darrell Bridges 11-17-0 65% 382 5

Rushing Att. Yards TDs

Darrell Bridges 279 2,430 39

Vonn Bell 123 1,187 23

Noah Cooper 105 801 8

Receiving No. Yards TDs

Vonn Bell 14 517 6

Sharone Porter 12 223 3

Roster

1 Uras Agee Senior

2 Josh Smith Junior

3 Chase Crawford Junior

4 George Johnson Senior

5 Shaun Sryock Senior

6 Bradley Stailey Senior

7 Brett Byrd Senior

8 Dillon Peterman Senior

9 Ivan Ojeda Sophomore

10 Ivy Beohm Freshman

11 Hunter Kaufhold Senior

12 Hunter McKenzie Freshman

13 Austin Bowen Junior

14 Jacob Russell Junior

15 Justin Whitecotton Senior

16 Devartay Turner Sophomore

17 Trey Stubbs Senior

18 Tavian Bridges Sophomore

19 Tristin Bethune Sophomore

20 Blaine Phillips Freshman

21 Caderius Word Sophomore

22 Zach Weathers Junior

23 Hunter Chapman Freshman

24 Nate Strickland Sophomore

25 David Peterman Sophomore

26 Calvin Davenport Junior

27 Marquie Davis Freshman

28 Noah Cooper Senior

29 Grayson Moore Freshman

30 Jeremy Masley Sophomore

31 Chris Figgures Freshman

32 Caleb Figgures Freshman

33 Chauncey Figgures Freshman

34 D.J. Chesney Junior

35 Dustin Peterman Sophomore

36 Gavin Losh Freshman

37 Devon Tucker Freshman

38 Ian Hayes Junior

39 Chandler Carver Sophomore

40 Will Hodges Freshman

41 Dalton Shields Freshman

42 Larry Turner Junior

43 Tim Graham Sophomore

44 Hunter Shirley Senior

45 Chris Henderson Freshman

46 Jerome Smith Senior

47 Josh Masley Senior

48 Sam Oliver Freshman

49 Nathan Morgan Sophomore

50 Christian Gentry Freshman

51 Nathan Pickard Freshman

52 Sam Cobb Junior

53 Malik Couch Senior

54 Noah Nelson Senior

55 Quenton Montgomery Senior

56 Austin Soward Freshman

57 Jacob Byrd Junior

58 P.J. Gardner Junior

59 Josh Skates Senior

60 Ross Wimpee Freshman

61 Dakota Pace Junior

62 Adam Davis Sophomore

63 Justin Allen Sophomore

64 Luke Edwards Freshman

65 Tre Daniels Senior

66 Jahmar Bell Freshman

67 Austin Coppinger Freshman

68 Mason Low Senior

69 Cameron Nunley Freshman

70 Michael Baxter Sophomore

71 Tyler White Freshman

72 Jermiah Conyers Freshman

73 Hunter Presnell Senior

74 Zachary Robertson Junior

75 Coby Liaina Freshman

76 Joby Pickett Sophomore

77 Stephen Hurst Sophomore

78 Austin Burns Senior

79 Dusty Melford Senior

80 Samuel Akins Sophomore

81 Patrick Shropshire Freshman

82 Stephen Byrd Sophomore

83 Tyler Collis Junior

84 Ryan Heath Freshman

85 Will Boydsten Sophomore

86 Brandon Hendrick Freshman

87 Hunter Thompson Freshman

88 Patrick Alford Freshman

89 Levi Mann Junior

90 Brandon Poteet Sophomore

91 Hunter Collins Freshman

92 Jimmy Cronnon Freshman

93 Jermane Conyers Senior

94 Justin Bolton Junior

95 Jacob Gadd Freshman

96 Daniel McCulloch Freshman

97 Peyton Blakemore Freshman

98 Samuel McCulloch Freshman

99 McKinley Mosgrove Freshman

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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