Three teams shared the Trans-Valley League title, but Ripon managed to stand out above all in postseason awards.
The top two indidividual honors went to Outstanding Offensive Player Michael Winters and Outstanding Defensive Player Cameron Gamino, while Mitchell Ulrich was voted Co-Outstanding Offensive Linmen. Seven Indians were selected to the All-TVL first team.
“Our kids played really well in league games,” Ripon coach Chris Musseman. He shares the Coach of the Year award with Escalon’s Mark Loureiro and Modesto Christian’s Mike Parsons.
Ripon finished 4-1 in league (8-4 overall) and split the title with Escalon (4-1, 7-5) and Modesto Christian (7-6). The Indians advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs and stunned second-seeded Calaveras 28-13 in the opening round before falling to eventual champion Bear River 14-7 in the semifinal.
Hilmar (2-3, 8-5), which ended up in fourth place, is the last TVL team standing and knocked off two of the tri-champions on its way to the play-in game for the CIF State Division VI-AA Northern California Regional Bowl. The Yellowjackets avenged losses to two of the TVL champions en route to claiming the SJS Division VI title as the No. 6 seed.
Winters was Ripon’s leading rusher (676 yards, seven TDs) and receiver (22 receptions, 406 yards, five TDs). His best game came against Mountain House, which he burned for 157 yards rushing, 60 receiving and two touchdowns.
Winters made the most of his touches in Ripon’s balanced pistol/Wing-T offense with a penchant for coming up with big plays. In the Indians’ 32-14 rout of Escalon, he set the tone with a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
“He made big plays in every game,” Musseman said. “He wasn’t the guy who was going to carry it 25 times, but he’ll have seven or eight carries with 100 yards.”
Gamino, a sturdy 6-foot, 230-pound center and nose guard, also had a big night against Escalon. He blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown in the first half, recovered a fumble for a turnover and recorded one of his team-leading 7.5 sacks for the season. Gamino ended his sterling senior campaign with 35 tackles and seven forced fumbles.
“Gamino dominated league games,” Musseman said. “He was a difference maker. He shut down Escalon all by himself at the line of scrimmage.”
Ulrich also had an impact at the line of scrimmage and was oftentimes the most imposing figure standing at 6 feet, 7 inches and 275 pounds.
“An amazing turnaround,” Musseman said of the hulking offensive tackle. “He struggled last year but worked real hard in the offseason. He wrestled to use his body better and it paid off big time.”
Owen Gollinger (6-1, 270), Ripon’s other tackle, was also named to the All-TVL first team. Joining him are second-year junior quarterback Ryan Daggett (1,115 yards, 15 TDs; five rushing TDs), inside linebacker Dylan Sexton (76 tackles) and defensive back Justin Hansen (88 tackles, three interceptions).
Ripon players making the All-TVL second team are: OL/DL Jesus Torres, RB/OLB Roland Davis, WR/OLB James Gaalswyk, RB/ILB Riley Machado, MLB Trent Hawes and OL/ILB Greg Clark.