Polytech struggles don’t diminish QB’s love for football

Polytech quarterback Jason Rigby threw for one TD and ran for the other In last week’s loss to Delaware Military, The Panthers scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a string of two straight shutouts. (Delaware State News file photo)

Polytech quarterback Jason Rigby threw for one TD and ran for the other In last week’s loss to Delaware Military, The Panthers scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a string of two straight shutouts. (Delaware State News file photo)

WOODSIDE — The rest of his teammates are walking as they head out to the practice field.

But Polytech High quarterback Jason Rigby breaks into a jog as he makes the long trek from the school.

So what if it’s only practice. The senior just likes being out there with the guys.

“This is the best part of my week, right here,” said Rigby. “It really is. We’ve got such a camaraderie built because we’ve been with each other the past four years.

“And we definitely mentor the younger guys, too, to keep the family mentality going.”

It’s worth noting that the Panthers (0-2 Henlopen North, 0-6 overall) are winless this season. And it’s not likely to get any better tonight when Polytech hosts rival Sussex Tech (2-1, 5-1) at 7:30 p.m. for homecoming.

But, for players like Rigby, losing doesn’t diminish his love of football.

“It’s definitely disappointing that we haven’t lived up to expectations,” said Rigby. “We haven’t won as many games as we would have liked to. … (But) you can’t quit just because you lose a few games.

“It’s football. You’ve got to keep playing.”

First-year coach Stanley Burris is glad to have a player like Rigby to help keep things positive.

He knows the youngster is as frustrated as anybody by the way the Panthers’ season has gone. The coach and QB have had their share of minor disagreements but only because they both want to win.

“There are moments when I look at him going, ‘Are you serious?’” said Burris. “And he’s looking at me thinking, ‘Yes, I’m serious.’ It happens.
He’s a competitive kid. He cares about what’s going on.

“He’s frustrated because I think, at times, he feels like he cares more about it than some others. That can be frustrating.

“He tries to look on the positive side as much as possible, which I truly appreciate,” Burris added. “Especially the way our season is going.”

“He tries to push people to do better,” agreed Polytech senior kicker and punter Mark Bonnie. “He tries not to point fingers, he tries to take responsibility for himself.”

In a season like this, the Panthers take accomplishments where they find them.

In last week’s 45-14 loss to Delaware Military, Polytech scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to break a string of two straight shutouts.
Rigby threw for one TD and ran for the other.

“You could kind of see they were getting down on themselves when we were losing by that much,” Rigby said about his teammates. “It just shows you’ve got to keep pushing. You can’t give up. Make something out of nothing.

“It’s definitely a morale booster, too. Everybody’s getting down because we can’t score points. When we finally get something on the board, it definitely feels good.”

Despite this year’s woes, the Panthers have had their share of success lately.

They were a combined 9-11 in the last two years. one of the better sets of back-to-back seasons the program has had. A year ago, Polytech earned the program’s first football victory over Kent County rival Dover.

“I’d do anything to replay those last couple years,” said Rigby. “I know a lot of people say never be satisfied with what you’re doing.

“But I’m pretty satisfied with the last couple years. It definitely was worth it. I’ll carry that with me forever.”

A product of the Caesar Rodney School District, Rigby has been Polytech’s starting quarterback off and on since his sophomore year. He’s also played some receiver.

Ironically, he didn’t want to move to QB at first. That’s why he kept his old jersey number — No. 44 — even though it wasn’t a traditional quarterback number.

“Oh man, I got so much (joking) for that, too,” Rigby said with a laugh. “I guess that was kind of my way of protesting because I liked receiver and tight end, I didn’t really like quarterback at first.”

This fall Rigby finally conceded. He’s wearing a more quarterback-like No. 3 this season.

Rigby had worn the number as a JV player.

“I was pretty good on JV,” he explained. “I just thought it was a good omen.”

It hasn’t worked out that way — not as far as wins and losses are concerned. But Rigby’s not complaining.

“You have to (stay optimistic),” he said. “You can’t just be negative because … it’s not a good thing. You’ve just got to stay positive.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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