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Price rises above pressure

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POSTED August 31, 2013 2:20 a.m.

RIPON – Nick Price took one step out of the shadow Friday night.

In his first game as quarterback of Ripon’s varsity team, the sophomore wasn’t perfect in the commanding role of a 52-0 rout of the visiting Bret Harte Bullfrogs at Stouffer Field.

But he wasn’t far off.

Price was 6-of-10 passing, three of which were scoring strikes that helped him rediscover the swagger that earned him the starting nod from head coach Chris Johnson.

“The butterflies were there, but I had to tell myself that I was going out there and just playing football,” Price. “I was just doing what I did all summer – my entire life really – and when I realized that they kind of went away. The line was giving me all of the time I needed and the guys were running perfect routes so there wasn’t much that I did in all of that.

“I was just playing football.”

Out of the gate, Price – the younger brother of former Ripon quarterback Danny Price – connected on only one of his first three passes, and that only went for a pair of yards.

Then he and Bradley Clark found their rhythm, hooking up on three consecutive passes, two of which went for touchdowns of  19 and 3 yards, respectively.

Johnson said Price’s performance was indicative of the talent level he possesses and what could be in store for Ripon football. 

“There’s an awful lot of pressure on him. That’s just the nature of playing that position” Johnson said, “and I think that he handles it well. He’s very mature and very competitive and I think that tonight we saw glimpses of that and glimpses of the things that have yet to come.”

Price finished with 109 yards and three touchdowns.

While it was the offense and it’s young, fresh-faced leader that might have gotten all of the glory, it was Ripon’s defense that truly gave him the opportunity to shine.

The Bullfrogs didn’t manage to get a legitimate first down until the waning minutes of the second quarter, and were in absolutely no danger of surrendering any points at any point during the game. They held Bret Harte to less than 50 total yards of offense.

That gave Price and Co. the opportunity to spread the ball around. Ripon used eight different ball carriers throughout the game.

The team graduated many of its starting offensive players last year, but more than half of those on the other side of the ball are back, and Johnson says that they’ve spent countless hours over the summer installing a new defensive scheme that appeared to be paying sweet dividends when it mattered most.

“We really worked hard during the summer in putting in a new scheme and in getting the guys prepared, and tonight I think that they did what they needed to do,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be solid on that side of the ball – we returned a lot of guys that had a significant amount of playing time last year, and I think that’s going to make a big difference for us.”

Ripon (1-0) will travel to Linden (1-0) next week to take on the Lions in its second non-league game of the season.

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