Despite a disappointing loss against Wiesbaden in the semifinals last year, the Patch High School football team has high hopes for bringing home the 2012 Division I crown.
The Panthers are currently 3-2, with losses coming from its long-time rival, the Ramstein Royals, who are unbeaten so far this season, and the Vilseck Falcons, who pulled out a last-minute 22-17 win Oct. 13.
With less than two minutes on the clock, the Panther defense was unable to stop a 31-yard touchdown run that sealed the win for Vilseck. “It was a hard fought game, and if anything, our guys are more determined. We want to go to the playoffs. That is what is driving us now,” said head coach Brian Hill.
It’s a goal that the team has focused on for the past 11 months — earning a spot in the Super Six. “I think last year’s loss before the Super Six affected the team. They all got busy in the weight room, with 30 to 40 people at summer conditioning [camp] every day — all getting stronger and faster — all trying to win the championship this year,” Hill said.
To even get the chance, an Oct. 20 homecoming victory is crucial.
“We have to beat Lakenheath to get in. If we do, I like our chances to make it to the Super Six,” Hill said. If the Panthers win against Lakenheath, currently 1-4, they then hit the road for an Oct. 27 semifinal game. If successful there, the Panthers will play in the Division I Championship Nov. 3 in Baumholder.
The Patch Panthers golf team concluded their season Oct. 4 with the boys’ and girls’ teams both winning one match for the season, and the girls also taking second place in another match.
Despite its record, Coach Phil Carson was happy with his young team.
“What a great season with 35 players — the largest team I can remember. Everyone improved their golf skills and their scores throughout the season.”
The PHS boys’ tennis team has recorded an almost perfect season this year, shutting out Hohenfels, Ansbach, Vilseck, Black Forest Academy and Schweinfurt 9-0, and posting a solid win against Kaiserslautern 8-1. The girls’ team record is almost as good, acing Hohenfels, Ansbach, Black Forest Academy and Schweinfurt 9-0, while beating K-Town 6-3 and Vilseck 8-1.
“This is the best team I’ve had in my 18 years of coaching. I couldn’t ask for a better team or better captains,” Coach Walter Fritz said.
“Everyone has such a positive attitude and hopefully we will beat Heidelberg in the last match [Oct. 20], so that we can get to the championships. We have a chance to win it all,” he added.
Off to a strong start, the Patch volleyball team leads Region III with a record of 7-1 as of Oct. 13.
Coach Michael Rubino, in his first year at the helm of the PHS team, said that he expects the Lady Panthers to do well in the playoffs.
The team captain agreed. “I think we have a lot of potential if we just set our minds to it. We can go far in Europeans with the help of Coach Rubino, who has brought the greatness out of each and every one of us,” varsity captain Rachel Hess said.
As the 2011 Division I boys’ and girls’ cross country champions, the Panthers have their sights aimed on repeating the victories.
Yet even with standout teammates Morgan Mahlock and Samantha Bargloff on her heels, returning 2011 individual champion Baileigh Sessions remained cautious.
“You never know what is going to happen at Europeans … you can only hope for the best. But I know our team will never stop fighting,” she said.