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The Panthers have asserted themselves as a perennial Region III threat in Class 6A under coach Rick LaFavers, who enters his third season at the helm. LaFavers’ goal for 2022: AT&T Stadium, site of the State Championships. He feels his Panthers are ready to take that next step.
“One game at a time,” LaFavers said. “Pushing ourselves and finding a way to go deeper in the playoffs.The road to AT&T.”
LaFavers scheduled his non-district slate admirably and ambitiously during February’s UIL realignment, linking up a premier showdown with three-time defending state championAustin Westlake in Week 1, followed by area power Dickinson in Week 2.
LaFavers tried to arrange a game against perennial state power Allen in Week 2, but “that didn’t work out.” He did everything he could towel come elite competition.
“I feel it’s good for our program to play those kinds of opponents, because we’ll have to face them in the playoffs eventually,” LaFavers said. “Those are good measuring sticks. I feel like we’ve got great talent and I believe we’re ready to take that next step. We’ll obviously find out really quick.”
The Panthers went 11-2 as a Regional Semifinalist in 2021 following the first full year of offseason and summer training under LaFavers and his staff. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, LaFavers’ first with the Panthers, Ridge Point went 8-3 before falling to North Shore in the Regional Final.
“Having a full year under our belt and the culture being there and familiarity with schemes and coaches, it clicked,” LaFavers said of last season. “I knew what we in our sub-varsities and what we have coming back, and I just believe in our kids. I know we lost a lot of ‘famous people’, but I believe we have a lot of people who are going to introduce themselves. When you look at the North Shores and Katys, that’s what they do year in and year out.
“I want us to be in the same conversations with state-wide schools, not just in our district or the region,” LaFavers continued. “It’s the culture we’re trying to create here at Ridge Point. I want to play the best people we can when we can. It doesn’t get much better than Austin Westlake.”
Thirteen starters—eight on defense—return for Ridge Point. LaFavers likes his team’s overall speed and athleticism, playmaking and defense. Depth on the O-line is a concern.
Leading the pack for the Panthers are senior defensive back Taylor Davis (87 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 pick-6s in 2021), senior running back Ezell Jolly (864 yards, 12 TDs), senior defensive back Ryan Ramey (32 tackles, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 INTs),senior offensive tackle Peyton Farmer, senior linebacker James Walley (73 tackles, 12 tackles for loss,4 sacks) and junior athlete Mason Dossett (433 yards, 5 TDs rushing; 127 yards, 3 TDs receiving).
Senior defensive tackle DK Kalu will be welcomed back with open arms after missing most of last year due to injury.