Ridgeland plays for the name on their jerseys, Panthers


ROSSVILLE, Ga. (WDEF) — A not-so-new face will lead the charge for the Ridgeland Panthers this year. Kip Klein has been around the team for decades, coaching countless Panthers, including his own children. His promotion fits right in with the Panthers’ mission statement this year. They’re a family, playing for the Ridgeland family.

Kip Klein might have a new title. However, he’s anything but new for the Ridgeland Panthers.

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“He ain’t new. We know him. He ain’t new. Everybody knows him at the school down there, so nothing new,” senior running back Terrance Roberts said.

“He has always been a part of us, the coaching staff. He’s always helped us even when he wasn’t the head coach. So really, nothing has really changed,” senior safety Julian Brooks said.

“They knew what to expect from me. A lot of them have grown up from elementary, and into middle school, and all the way to high school knowing who I was so it helped a lot,” Klein said.

No transition needed for the coaching change. However, the Panthers *have transitioned their attitudes.

“We’re more of a family this year,” Roberts said.

“We’re a brotherhood. We’re all close now. Last year, we weren’t all that close. We’re all back together and we’re getting this show on the road,” senior running back Jordan Blackwell said.

“The kids are really playing for the school, playing for each other. And they’re not worried about wins and losses. They want to win, but they’re more worried about each other, not letting each other down,” Klein said.

The Panthers don’t want to let the community down either.

“I’ve always said for years, play for the name that’s on the jersey. And so they put Panthers on the back of the jerseys. So all the name plates say Panthers. They don’t say a certain kid or anything. It just says the Panthers,” Klein said.

“That’s everything to us. Everything is based around Ridgeland. It’s for the community. Just everyone around here. It’s just playing for something bigger so we’re go down to Calhoun and play on that big stage. They’ll know we’ll be playing for our community, and our community will be proud of us,” Roberts said.

Ridgeland opens up the 2019 season at the Corky Kell Classic in Rome against Calhoun Thursday, August 22 at 5:30 p.m.