RIPON — They call themselves a “Band of Brothers.”
Over the years, they’ve grown together, starting from kindergarten on up.
They’re the 2011 Ripon Christian High varsity football squad.
“Some of us have played football together since our freshman year. Some of us go back to seventh and eighth grade,” said Jordan Goslinga.
A 6-6, 265-pound right tackle, Goslinga anchors an impressive offensive line consisting of James Holdren (center), Thomas Van Vliet (left guard), Jacob Ruther (left tackle), and Anton den Dulk (right guard).
Knights head coach John Vander Schaaf believes this group will be the strength of the team.
“We have size on the line — we’re big and tall,” he said at Friday’s practice session.
The key, according to den Dulk, will be how this group works together as unit.
Thus far, he’s been impressed with the addition of offensive coordinator Randy Fasani, defensive line coach Kevin Van Donselaar, and defensive backs coach Robert Kissee.
On defense, den Dulk, who, at 6-1, 230, is among the 12 seniors on this year’s team, can be found at defensive tackle. Last year, he was credited with 35 tackles. Goslinga is another mainstay on the defensive front, tallying 23 tackles from a year ago.
At linebacker, senior James Vander Schaaf managed 46 stops.
Coach Vander Schaaf, as part of his duty, serves as the defensive coordinator.
“We’ll line up in a basic defense with some odd sets,” he said.
Rounding out Vander Schaaf’s staff is Bill Kamps (offensive line), Jeremy Byrd (wide receivers), Eddie Erdelatz (linebackers), Mike Hogan (all purpose), and Tom Henderson (trainer).
Vander Schaaf was OK with his team’s debut in the Southern League last year after spending four seasons in the always-competitive Trans Valley League, which includes the likes of Escalon and Ripon — schools four times the size of RC. The Knights finished 3-4 in the Southern League, 3-7 overall.
“The Southern League was much better fit for us,” Vander Schaaf said.
“Many teams in the Southern League are also big like us. That’s why we have to be quick off the ball and use that (strength) to our advantage,” he said.
As for the skill positions, senior running back Tim Ignacio is among the returners. He’s joined by promising sophomore back Andrew Brown and junior quarterback Danny Vos, who completed 51 of his 93 passes for 854 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing for last year’s sophomore squad that finished 4-3 in league. He also rushed for 318 yards on 69 carries, scoring eight times.
Other returning players include Zach Davis — he handled the kicking chores as a sophomore — Albert Yanez, and Josh Van Groningen.
Promising newcomers are Dalton Koslosky, Brandon Dotinga, and Clayton Blankers.
“We are looking at a big, experienced line returning,” said Vander Schaaf. “Also, our team has versatile skilled players.”
He’s been pleased with the early practices.
“Right now, we’re barn-blind – we’ve like everyone else (in our league) in that we like what we have here,” Vander Schaaf said.
Added den Dulk, “This year, RC is focused at having fun and winning. That’s our goal. I think we’ll be successful.”