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Today we take a look at the Ridgeland Panthers, who are
rebounding from the loss of several key pieces from last year's
state finalist squad. A lot of people will be on vacation next week,
but remember to check the SHSSN as we will be ranking some
of the top things about high school football. 
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In This Issue
Football Schedule
Class AAAA Football Rankings
Ridgeland Preview
PlayOn! Sports
Score Poll
Best Stories From Around the State
What team handed Ridgeland its only regular season loss in 2012?    

Today's answer can  
be found in the newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Prior to first-year head coach Jason Roquemore's 6-4 record at Johnson-Gainesville, the Knights went 5-25 from 2009-2011.



Ridgeland Panthers


8/30        Calhoun

9/13        At River Ridge

9/20        At Cedartown

9/27        Pickens

10/04      At Dalton

10/11      Southeast Whitfield

10/18      Northwest Whitfield

10/25      At LaFayette

11/01      Heritage, Catoosa

11/08      Region Play-In





  1. Sandy Creek
  2. Burke County
  3. Carrollton
  4. Cairo
  5. Marist
  6. Griffin
  7. Statesboro
  8. Westside-Macon
  9. Stockbridge
  10. Monroe Area

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Friday, June 28, 2013

By Craig Sager II
Panthers seek new road to Dome



Photo courtesy of Tracey Long

Ridgeland advanced to the Class AAAA championship in 2012 with aprolific rushing offense that accounted for 39.0 points per game. Sandy Creek topped the Panthers 45-10 in the title game, but the incredible rushing offense paced them to a 13-2 season.


"What made last year's team special is that every single player understood their role," said head coach Mark Mariakis. "The only thing they worried about was winning football games."


Understanding roles this upcoming season may take time, as there will be considerable changes in the Panthers' starting lineup.


Out of the backfield, Darrell Bridges and Vonn Bell bulldozed and scampered their way to 61 touchdowns in 2012. Bridges, who is at Presbyterian College, rushed for nearly 2,400 yards and Vonn Bell accounted for over 1,100. Bell was a five-star defensive back who will be at Ohio State this season.


"We lost 5,500 yards of rushing from last year and only have 800 yards returning," said Mariakis. "We've got some big shoes to fill production wise. I'm hoping these kids will look at last year's work ethic and more importantly know their roles and get their job done above anything else and hopefully we will have some success."


The 800 yards returning in the backfield come from Noah Cooper who will star in the Panthers' running attack this upcoming season.


"I think Noah is capable of having a big year numbers wise," said Mariakis "He's a hard runner and one of his biggest assets is his balance and vision. He's gonna be that guy everyone looks to because he is the only skill player we have returning this year."


Noah is a more than capable feature back, but Ridgeland will be missing the versatility that Bell and Bridges combined to produce.


"Last year we had a great combination [of explosiveness and power]. We could just pound it with Bridges but then we could pick up home runs with Bell," said Mariakis. "I don't think we ever got caught from behind after we busted one all last year. I'm not sure we have that capability at this point to turn a two yard run into six points just because of that lack of really burning speed, but I think we can get there and increase the game speed as the season progresses."


Speed may be something that Hunter Kaufhold can incorporate into this playbook from the quarterback position.


"Hunter brings a little more speed than we have had at the position and has really improved in throwing the football. This year we may have to open it [the playbook] up a little bit [with Hunter] just because we don't have thoroughbreds all over the backfield like we did last year"


Mariakis believes his offense will morph itself into a "different looking animal" as the season goes on.


On defense a bunch of the core guys will return as six starters from 2012 will suit back up. The Panthers leading in 2012, DeAngelo Smith will start at linebacker after his 133 tackles season. Dillon Peterman will have to fill the void in the secondary left by Bell. Last season Peterman made a big impact with 71 tackles and five interceptions.


On the defensive line is Jermane Conyers. The 6-foot-3, 290 pound tackle was clocked at a 4.71 in the 40 and can wreck havoc on opposing offenses. Appalachian State, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Indiana and Marshall have offered Conyers. Former University of Georgia assistant Jon Fabris has been recruiting him from Indiana and Conyers visited the campus on June 15 for a camp. Ridgeland will start the powerful senior on both sides of the ball this season.

The goal for the Panthers this season will be to focus on getting better each week. Mariakis has made it clear that he expects his team to adapt, and with a new backfield and quarterback managing the offense, we can expect to see changes in the Panthers' methods. They open the season at home against Class AA powerhouse Calhoun, who handed them a 42-35 loss in week one last season. Calhoun went 14-1 in 2012, losing in the Class AA title game to Jefferson last year. This week one matchup will be a great measuring stick for two teams that are trying to return to the podium in 2013.



By Score Atlanta

PlayOn! announces expanded coverage



NFHS, PlayOn! Sports Announce Plans for High School Sports Network

Joint Venture Would Create Central Destination, Expanded Coverage of High School Sports


DENVER (June 25, 2013) - The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and PlayOn! Sports (PlayOn) plan to create and launch the NFHS Network, an all-digital network devoted to coverage of high school athletic content through the Federation's state association members. The NFHS Network, with an anticipated start date at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year and featuring comprehensive coverage of boys and girls sports and activities from across the country, will be a subscription-based digital service available at


Each of the 51 NFHS state association members has the opportunity to join the NFHS Network to showcase its high schools, student athletes and tournaments.  While states will continue to maintain local media relationships, the NFHS Network will become the largest aggregated destination for coverage of high school sports in the country, thus creating increased viewing opportunities for students, parents and fans - wherever they may be in the world. 


"With 19,000 high schools in the United States and nearly two million events held annually across the country, we are very excited about this enormous opportunity," said Bob Gardner, executive director of the NFHS.  "Once launched, the network will help the Federation showcase its primary mission of expanding participation and opportunities for involvement in education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities.  We are excited to provide viewership opportunities for fans of high school athletics all over the country."


The new NFHS Network will build on the existing success of the PlayOn digital platform and high-quality coverage of high school sports. PlayOn currently streams nearly 30,000 events per school year on its national digital portal in addition to producing and distributing television coverage of select championship events. PlayOn works with 32 state associations and sections in 26 states, as well as more than 600 high schools across the country that have adopted PlayOn's technology platform to self-produce their school's sports and activities.


"Teaming up with the NFHS is a natural progression to build a truly national high school sports platform while honoring the local communities that support them," said David Rudolph, PlayOn! Sports chief executive officer. "Our mission is to serve the current and future generations of student-athletes, support and encourage their participation and make their performances accessible to their friends, family and fans on every media platform they use."


Nearly 50 million Americans identify themselves as high school sports fans and high school events have three times the attendance of college and professional sporting events combined. Couple this passionate fan base with the usage of smartphones and other connected devices and the NFHS Network will become a consolidated high school destination for schools, student-athletes, families, fans, alumni and advertisers.


"We are building a network for the next 40 years," Rudolph continued. "The NFHS Network is being designed for the next generation of consumers who are driving the consumption of content in a multi-screen environment. These digital natives will set the stage for the success of the NFHS Network."


The NFHS Network is a joint venture between the NFHS and PlayOn! Sports and will be governed and overseen by a combination of NFHS and PlayOn executives.  Both Gardner and Rudolph worked with numerous state association executive directors for more than seven months to develop the concept and agreement.  The NFHS Network is structured to provide all state associations with the opportunity to participate, providing a framework for a true national footprint for high school sports.


"Ultimately, we want to make the NFHS Network the most treasured and trusted source for high school athletics," Gardner said.


NFHS Network: We are High School.



About PlayOn! Sports

PlayOn! Sports is the largest rights holder, producer, and aggregator of high school sports events distributed across television, the Internet, and IP-video enabled mobile devices. By combining State Athletic Associations' postseason content with the regular season events of member schools, PlayOn streams more than 30,000 high school sporting events a year, providing marketers with a unique multi-media platform solution to reach teens, young adults and families. PlayOn is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., with offices in the Southeast, Midwest and California. View the PlayOn! Sports Network at and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @playonsports.



About the National Federation of State  

High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at





Kell's Kendell Williams named National Track and Field Athlete of the Year

Walton's Glen Rice Jr. drafted by 76ers and sent to Wizards

Harrison's former star Schniederjans takes the lead at Dogwood

Brookwood grad Johnson named to team U.S.

Duo of first year quarterbacks share similar expectations in Class AAAAAA

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