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POSTED August 29, 2013 9:39 p.m.

 FOREIGN FLAVOR: Assyrian exchange student Bashar Shammas may prove to be a difference maker at receiver this fall. Shammas arrived on campus a bona fide basketball talent, but the 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior has dazzled the football staff with his athleticism.

 BILLY THE KID: Junior quarterback Billy Marr earned the trust of his teammates at the Sonora camp. Marr (6-2, 160 pounds) stood tall in the pocket against three of the area’s toughest, blue-collar programs: Sonora, Calaveras and defending state champion Central Catholic, which begins the season ranked No. 6 in the nation by MaxPreps.

 BEWARE OF INJURIES: Ripon Christian’s biggest deterrent in its pursuit of a Sac-Joaquin Section championship is depth. The Knights can ill-afford an injury anywhere on the field. “Last year, everybody played both ways. That’s how it’s going to be this year. I’ve played that way since youth football,” senior Andrew Brown said. “… It’s always an issue because of injuries, but conditioning and being able to put out four quarters, that won’t be an issue.”

All-Southern League wide receiver Spencer Hower was cleared to return to the field on Aug. 23. Hower broke both his arms in a skateboard fall and missed the entire summer season. Hower ranked second only to Brown with 32 catches, 549 receiving yards and six touchdowns. To develop timing and relationship with QB Billy Marr, Hower would run routes without catching the ball.

 WHO’S THAT? Here are a few newcomers sure to play prominent roles for first-year head coach Randy Fasani this fall: Will Kamps, projected as a defensive end, linebacker and offensive lineman; and Tyler Driesen, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound center. Both started for the sophomore team a year ago and would have played varsity if not for CIF rules, according to Fasani.

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