Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Panthers Close 2015 with Winning Record

The Panther Rugby team wrapped up the 2015 Middle School rugby season on May 30 at the State Championship tournament put on by Rugby Ohio. During the competition the Panthers faced off against new competition and had mixed results against the unfamiliar competition. In the season's final slate of competitions, the Panthers went 1-2, which put their final record for the season at 12-11-1.

In their first match of the day, the Panthers played against Fairview. The Cleveland-based side proved to be too much for the Panthers and put an early blemish on their record. Though the Panther put up a strong fight, the score line ended in favor of Fairview by a score of 24-12. Mason Fiegly and Cody Ellis contributed to their team's performance by scoring tries during the match. Carter Varner was able to convert one of the scores and add a pair of points to the Panthers' total.

The second match pit the Panthers against Akron's own Highland. Highland also proved to be too much for the Panthers and put together a convincing victory, putting up 29 points and holding the Panthers to a mere seven points. Fiegly scored the only try for the Panthers and Damian Keumerle converted.

The Panthers matched up against Hudson to end the day and pulled out a close win to end the day. The Panthers got off to a slow start but  Ellis was able to cross over the whitewash for his team in the first half.  During the beginning of the second half, momentum shifted towards Hudson, as they put in two tries to get a 12-5 lead on the Panthers. Unwilling to give in, the Panthers fought back in the second half. Tyler Watson put in his team's first second-half try and Tanyon Fick secured the conversion to level the scores. In the waning moments of the match, Kyle Griffith weaved his way through the Hudson defensive line and put in the final try of the match. To end the match on a true high, Varner caught the conversion kick to put the final score at 19-12 in the Panthers' favor.

"I am so proud of these boys for the way they have played all season long, learning valuable lessons along the way," said Head Coach Jason Doyle. "These boys never gave up in any of their matches. Their toughness showed in that final game, where they willed their way to finish off the season with a victory against a pretty good Hudson team."

The final match in the competition brought out the best in the Panthers. According to Doyle, many of the players performed at previously unseen high levels. Every player from John Haren, Fiegly, Damian Keumerle, Griffith, Fick, Tyler Watson, Varner, Cody Ellis through Jake Doyle played above expectations.

"These boys didn't know what rugby was at the beginning of the season," Doyle said. "But they learned to play and they played well. I am proud to call them Panthers, and they have built a solid foundation for future Panthers."

The Panthers will be back in action next Spring, competing again in the Canton Middle School league once again. For more information on Panther Rugby, please email or call 330-412-2967.

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