A Learning Process

The Round Lake High School Panthers Football team take on the Warhawks and Rams.


John Brown

The sun sets at Panther Stadium on a cool Friday night.

John Brown, Staff Writer

The roars arising from the super fan stands set an enthusiastic mood for the football players, students, and other fans of the Round Lake High School football team.  Friday night lights, the announcing of advertisements, and the chatter of fans fills the Panther Stadium.  The cry, “Let’s go!” echoes from the huddle and across the stadium.


The 2-2 Round Lake High School Panthers football team took on the North Chicago Warhawks and Grayslake Central Rams in a tough two-week losing conference series that proved many surprises and wins for players and coaches. The first loss had a profound effect on the Panthers, but the team is ready to resolve through the next games of the season.


The Panthers took on the Warhawks that rose noise levels and would be an intended showdown.  “We can’t take advantage of any team no matter what their record is, or how the town is,” said Brett Kneeland, varsity football player who is a wide receiver and linebacker.  Kneeland concludes that not to judge a team by the team’s cover.  “We need to work more as a team,” said Junior Juan Ocampo, varsity football player, tight end and linebacker.  “We need to get the simple things correct 100 percent of the time.”  Ocampo stresses that the football team needs to stay focused to go the right direction.


The RLHS student section, also known as super fans, has had the fair share of watching the Panthers win and lose. “Even when I see the football team lose, it does not discourage me,” says Kevon Elzey, who is a super fan and junior at RLHS.  “Every game is a new start and unpredictable.”  Elzey concludes that the Panthers have new opportunities each game to score a win.  “Although our team might go through some losses, I still try and keep the pride gong,” says Senior Tino Garcia, also a super fan.  “Win or lose, the super fans are always there one another, sharing how proud we are of the football guys.”  Garcia also goes on to say that school spirit and hope is well represented even after the loss of football games.


The football players went over analytical content after the game to go over what worked for the team and what didn’t. “We did good on defense,” said Kneeland. “We stopped them a lot of times during the game and forced them to turn over the ball and punt. That was good for us.” Meanwhile, Kneeland points out the Panthers’ inability to keep up their energy throughout the game, and that they also struggle with offense. “With failing to score three or four times, it brought us down, and we weren’t mentally in the game like we should have been,” he said.   Kneeland also adds that the Panthers can rebuild from the negatives to create a stronger positive note.


Likewise, Ocampo has a similar thought on what the Panthers did bad during the Grayslake Central and North Chicago games.   “The flags are what get us the most, so I would say the small things are what we have to work on to try to prevent free yards.”


Moving forward, the Panthers play more in conference games throughout the season. “I honestly feel like with the loss versus North Chicago opened us up,” Kneeland included.  “We now realize we have to bring it every game; these games woke us up.  Everyone on the team especially the coaches knows this season in a good way, in which will lead to more wins this year.” Kneeland draws a positive mindset of the team, and goes further to explain with hard work; the season will change.  “I believe our we can win more in conference games as we close the remaining five games,” Ocampo said.  Head Coach, Cristo Garza also remarked that he looks for improvement each week, and finishing the season on a strong note. Likewise, Assistant Coach, Jeffrey Baird had similar notes. “The day I stop believing that we have a chance to win every game we participate in is the day I stop coaching. So, yes, I promise you that we will win in conference this season.”  The now 2-3 Panthers take on the Antioch Sequoits at an away game on Friday, Sept. 29.

The Panthers look to hear the roars from the superfans, the assortment of advertisements, and the chatter of fans as the season continues. The typical Friday night lights continues for the Panthers going into the next game, Antioch, and the rest of the season as well. The players and coaches are positive of continuing through the conference with more wins especially in the Northern Lake County Conference.