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Brothers' love for football united

October 26, 2018
Sue Sitter - Tribune Reporter , Pierce County Tribune

When visiting teams squared off against the Rugby Panthers on the football field this fall, they likely tangled with at least one of the Vetsch brothers.

Perhaps they met all three of them on the defensive line.

Senior Kevin Vetsch and his brother, Keith, a junior, played as outside linebackers, and their brother, Kory, a freshman, was a middle linebacker.

Article Photos

The Vetsch brothers (left to right): Keith, Kevin and Kory. All three were running backs and linebackers for the Panthers in the 2018 season.

The three brothers all played as running backs on offense.

The oldest, Kevin, began playing football at Middle School age.

Kevin told the Tribune, "From the time I was in junior high, I fell in love with the game. Then, freshman year came, and I had to prove myself, and in my sophomore year, I was able to start."

Fact Box

Panthers' season ends at Kindred

The 5-3 Panthers traveled to Kindred for game 1 of the Division A playoffs last Saturday, only to have their hopes dashed by a 48-6 loss to the Vikings.

The first quarter looked promising, as a Panther interception resulted in a touchdown, when quarterback Jaden Hamilton connected with receiver Wyatt Schmaltz.

Coach Beau Erickson characterized the game as "a struggle" after that.

"The second half, it seemed like some fatigue kicked in," he noted. "Their physicality kicked in. I give (the Panthers) kudos. They (Kindred) have 41 players, and they were rotating players, and we have 31, and we usually only play about 15. We kind of got worn down in the second half. "

Still, Erickson said the team's playoff appearance points to a promising future for the players returning next year.

"We just have to build off this (season) for sure. Our boys know what it takes to make it to the playoffs, but we want to do more than just make it to the playoffs. We obviously have to do more things. We've got to be in the weight room, go to more camps, and be a little more focused," Erickson indicated. "I think, with what we've got next year, we've got a lot of skilled positions returning, and we're going to have to fill in some line positions on both sides of the ball," he added.

"But I think next year can be very successful, and it's because of what these seniors have done for us in the past couple of years."

- Sue Sitter, Tribune Reporter

Although he looks forward to attending Bismarck State College for an agronomy degree and a business education degree after that, Kevin said he would always remember his time in Panther football.

"Playing here has been great for me. I couldn't have asked for better. As a freshman to my senior year, we've come a long way, and my senior year has been phenomenal. And playing with my two brothers has been an accomplishment for all three of us."

Although the Panthers were eliminated in the first round of Division A playoffs last Saturday at Kindred, Keith and Kory Vetsch said they hoped for a chance to come back.

"I thought (the playoff) was a different experience, and I thought it was pretty cool to play in the playoffs for the first time in a long time," Keith said. "Things didn't go our way, but things were going pretty good at the beginning of the game."

Keith said he began playing football with his brothers in their backyard as children.

"It's pretty fun playing football us three, with my brothers and we had such a good time this year," he said.

Youngest brother Kory, who noted he's played football "since I can remember," agreed with his older brothers about the fun they had this year. "I plan on playing all the way through my senior year, and have a good time, and make memories."

Kory said of his playoff experience: "I thought it was something different. It was a different kind of day. The intensity was a little bit higher, with more at stake."

Like older brother Keith, Kory hopes to return to the playoffs as a sophomore. I'm hoping team builds up and gets deeper in the playoffs next year."

Coach Beau Erickson said of the Panthers' 48-6 defeat by Kindred, "Our boys started out great for the first quarter. I couldn't have asked for a better start, getting that interception, and scoring. From there, we played fairly well in the second half. We had our struggles."

Erickson described the second half of the game as a time "some fatigue kicked in."

Erickson said he was proud the squad "gave it their all" during the first half.

As for coaching only two Vetsch brothers next year, Erickson noted, "It's going to be a little different, having two out of the three. I'm going to miss Kevin, but I think he's been a great example leading for his brothers. He has some shoes that he's put down, and his brothers are definitely going to try to fill them, if not exceed them for sure."



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