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Battle-tested Indians take aim at TVL title, playoff success

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Ripon High head coach Chris Johnson has final words for his players before ending practice.


POSTED August 23, 2012 1:40 a.m.

RIPON — The bar has been raised at Ripon High.

Thanks to a senior-laden group, the Indians open the new season with higher expectations.

 “The experienced seniors really help,” Ripon High coach Chris Johnson said. “We’re already ahead (in summer practices) at this point (compared to) last year.”

He indicated that it was just a matter of “knocking off the rust” when the preseason practices recently kicked off the 2012 campaign.

Ripon High is coming off a solid campaign, consisting of an 8-3 overall mark, 4-2 in the Trans Valley League

Offensively, the Indians will operate out of a Wing-T, featuring the likes of senior running backs Anthony Baciocco, Josh McCreath, and Tyler Swortfiguer.

Senior quarterback Kyle Wengel completed 95 of his 184 passes for 1,357 yards and 20 TDs. Senior Cole Herrin will likely be his best receiving option.

Johnson could look towards juniors Michael Morris and Kody Day as contributors. Both were brought up a year ago as sophomores and have some varsity seasoning.

The RHS coaching staff is working towards shoring up the offensive line.

“We only have two players up front with experience,” Johnson said.

Defense appears to be the team’s strength.

Herrin had 29 stops, 13 assists and three interceptions while anchoring the secondary.

Swortfiguer had 82 tackles including 42 solos and Baciocco, at cornerback, was credited with 26 tackles.

As for raising the bar, Baciocco indicated that newcomers share the Indians’ goal of a strong showing in Trans Valley League play and making the playoffs.

“We’ve set some high standards and now we’re raising it,” he said.

Part of those standards included a third-place finish in the competitive TVL and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff berth.

McCreath had 138 yards on 25 carries in the 12-10 first-round loss to Livingston.

The Indians are retooling with 34 players on their roster.

“We still have a ways to go but our kids are feeling confident,” Johnson said.

His coaching staff includes Mark Duxbury, Michael Merchant, Ken Tyhurst, and Loren Johnson on the offensive side of the ball; and Darin Higgins, Chris Musseman, Steve Magazinivich, and Cole Williams  handling the defense.

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