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KA-BOOM! Ripon scores again
Cannon blast marks every Indian touchdown
The Ripon High JROTC and instructors go over loading drills of the blank shells used in the canon that is set off after a varsity football touchdown and can be heard for miles around. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

His children are grown, the youngest three years removed from Ripon High School.

So if you’re charting rooting interests in the Indians’ football program, Scott Ambrose should have none.

Technically speaking, that is.

Ambrose could spend his Friday evenings doing just about anything else – pruning his trees and shrubs, catching up on back episodes of NCIS and Duck Dynasty, or entertaining friends.

Yet Ambrose shows up to every Ripon High home game, wearing red and cheering from an end-zone seat as if one of his own were holding a helmet or pom-poms.

He’s as dependable as the morning sun.

“I get in free to the football games,” Ambrose said sarcastically, “and I get to go KA-BOOM!”

Ah, a man and his toy.

Ambrose is the Cannon Club’s longtime volunteer advisor, which makes him an integral part of Ripon’s Friday night football experience.

“This is my fun,” said Ambrose, now in his 12th year as a volunteer, standing next to the camouflaged weaponry.

What’s not to love? The Indians’ home games have a unique charm, matching this small town’s personality.

A standing-room only crowd hangs onto the fence lining the dirt track and the band often plays through the visiting team’s possessions.

The Quarterback Club fills the air with the mouth-watering aroma of barbecue, and occasionally, a train will rumble through the east end zone, blocking out the traffic along Highway 99.

Then, the KA-BOOM! of a super-charged blank round shatters the romance, reminding everyone within a few miles of Stouffer Field that the Indians have scored.

Those moments are savored most by Ambrose, who oversees the cannon owned by the Ripon Unified School District.

The cannon’s blast accompanies every Indian highlight. It sounds at least once during pregame, releasing the Indians onto the football field, and then after each touchdown, field goal or safety.

On Friday night, during a 43-0 victory over the Spartans of Lathrop High, the Cannon Club fired 10 rounds. There were two blasts before the game, seven following each score (six touchdowns, one field goal), and then one more to close the rout.

Each round costs $5, Ambrose said, and the rental fee for a school other than Ripon is $200. Ambrose said Manteca High rented the cannon for its home opener against Santa Clara Wilcox on Sept. 6, a game decided in overtime.

It can be unnerving for the opposition, especially if Ripon goes on a scoring tear, as well as an unsuspecting officiating crew.

On Friday, a side judge took exception to the timing of a blast. The referee was still in the back of the end zone following a Roberto Alvarez extra-point when the cannon fired.

Five minutes later, he groveled that his ears were still ringing.

The cannon has even become a target for some. Ambrose recalls reading an article that had specific orders for teams visiting Ripon High: “Quiet the cannon.”


Good luck.

Through four games, Ripon (4-0) boasts the area’s most explosive offense. The Indians have outscored their opponents 192-26 and haven’t posted fewer than 41 points in a game.

Sophomore quarterback Nick Price is playing with the poise of a senior, keeping defensive coordinators guessing with an offense that attacks from all angles.

On Friday, four different players scored touchdowns: two apiece by running backs Michael Morris and Ryan Fugit; and one each for Michael Ysit and Davis Armstrong.

Tight end Claudio Santos is a big target down the middle of the field and wide receiver Bradley Clark has some of the best hands and instincts in the area.

“We’re never satisfied,” Price said. “We know we can do better. We only scored one touchdown in the second half. Last week, we gave up some touchdowns. There still work that can be done.”

Which means there’s plenty of fun left to be had for Ambrose … the man that likes to go KA-BOOM!