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Coach Grams shares historic moment with his predecessors
Woodland Christian-Ripon Christian football
Ripon Christian coach Phil Grams raises the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship pennant after his Knights defeated Woodland Christian 28-16 Friday at St. Mary’s High of Stockton. GARY JENSEN/ - photo by Dave Campbell

STOCKTON — Phil Grams coached the Ripon Christian football team to its first ever Sac-Joaquin Section championship on Friday with a 28-16 come-from-behind win over Woodland Christian for the SJS Division VII title at Sanguinetti Field.

Grams is blessed to have two former Knights head coaches — Trey Ozenbaugh and Randy Fasani — on his staff. Both were the head coach in the three previous Ripon Christian trips to the SJS title game, with Ozenbaugh coaching one and Fasani two.

Grams already had a Section title on his coaching résumé, as he led Capital Christian to the Division VI championship in 2014.

“Our coaches play for His glory, and egos aside, there are three head coaches on this staff,” Grams said. “Trey Ozenbaugh was a head coach here, as was Randy Fasani. But we are brothers first, and if there is ever a disagreement we work it out in the back room and nobody knows about it because we are brothers.

“And then when you put all those coaches together, we are able to come up with great game plans. Our team GPA is a 3.53, so we are able to put stuff together and use the brains of our players. We may not always have the brawn, they were bigger than us for sure tonight, but all that knowledge on one staff is what brings us all together.”

Ozenbaugh coaches the defensive backs. He led the 2018 team that finished 12-1, losing only to Hilmar in the 2018 Division VI final.

“Hats off to coach Grams for being willing to have two former head coaches on his staff,” Ozenbaugh said. “I think it says a lot about him, his character and his confidence as a coach. I know a lot of other guys would be intimidated by that but not him. The difference is when I was head coach and Randy was head coach we coached by committee and we had amazing assistants but when the hard decisions needed to be made they were made by the head coach. But otherwise it was really a community effort.

“We want to build strong, young men who will grow into great husbands and great fathers someday and when we can use the platform of our Christian faith to do so that is really special.”

Ozenbaugh enjoys working with long-time defensive coordinator Eddie Erdelatz.

“Erdelatz has been here through all of us as head coaches,” Ozenbaugh said. “He is by far the best defensive coordinator we have seen. We don’t have the biggest, fastest, strongest kids and we have to put them in the right spot, and that is calling a lot of blitzes and being really aggressive in trying to dictate to teams what we want them to not do.”

One of the examples of outstanding defensive effort was an interception by Brady Grondz. Not the tallest player on the field, with 5:19 left in the contest Grondz fronted a Woodland Christian receiver in the end zone and came down with an interception, ensuring that the Cavaliers would not score in the second half and putting the ball in the hands of the Knights offense, allowing Ripon Christian to run the clock out.

“What a play,” Ozenbaugh said of Grondz’s interception. “Brady is our best defender, by far, and our shortest, but he has the biggest of hearts. He is disciplined on defense, and they wanted to pick on him because of his stature and I think they are probably regretting that right about now.”

Fasani was a sophomore when he earned a Section title with Del Oro as a player before going onto Stanford and the NFL. He is the offensive coordinator and had the privilege of coaching is son Trey this season.

“I absolutely love coaching my kid,” Randy Fasani said. “This is the hardest season I have ever had coaching because I get so emotional. I wanted it so bad for him and all of his close friends. It has been a tough season emotion-wise, but we won our first blue banner, and these young men absolutely deserve it.

“You need to humble yourself and coach for the program, the school and the kids. I have told the coaches here that there are no titles when we are coaching for this program. I don’t care if I am the quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach — I am going to work my hardest

and prepare these boys to the best of my ability. This was not our best game, we made way too many mistakes, but the kids fought hard.”

Trey Fasani had touchdown throws of 14, 25 and 42 yards.

“Everyone knows he was a great football player so his knowledge of football is incredible,” Trey Fasani said of his father. “I trust everything that he calls and I trust in his knowledge of the game and I love to learn from him because he knows so much.

“He never adds any extra pressure to me. I never feel any extra pressure so that’s great. Overall it’s just a great experience.”

As a result of winning a section title the Knights are now in the state playoffs which begin next week. Pairings will be announced by the State CIF office on Sunday.