The Ripon Christian football team has a new coach … who just so happens to be its old coach.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator and former head coach Randy Fasani was introduced as the Knights’ newest lead. He’ll succeed Trey Ozenbaugh, who led the program to historic heights during his five-year career.
Ozenbaugh, who decided to step down to focus on family and work, was 39-20 with four Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berths, back-to-back section final appearances, and an undefeated Southern League championship this past fall.
"It's somewhat bittersweet for me, because I love coaching with one of my best friends," Fasani said. "We're losing an absolutely amazing leader and he benefitted the Ripon Christian football program while he was running it. I tried to convince him to be co-head coaches and share duties, but for personal reasons he had to step away."
In Ozenbaugh's final season, the Knights won a school record 12 games and reached the Division VI final, where they were beaten by eventual CIF State Division VI-AA champion Hilmar. Along the way, Ripon Christian knocked off Trans-Valley League co-champion Modesto Christian, a top seed and home team, for one of the biggest wins in program history.
“Football results aside, coach Ozebanugh was a great example for our young student-athletes. His unwavering faith in God and love for the players on his team were evident each and every day,” Ripon Christian athletic director Kevin Tameling said in a statement released on Thursday morning. “As a coach, Trey was a model of class and character. We admire and appreciate all that he has done at Ripon Christian.”
Ozenbaugh will be succeeded by Fasani, a former high school All-American at Del Oro High School and NFL quarterback. Fasani joined the Knights’ staff as an assistant in 2010 and helped the program to a share of the Southern League title in 2012.
In 2013, his only season as head coach, Ripon Christian reached a section final and produced a 2,000-yard running back, Andrew Brown.
Fasani returned to the program this fall to call the offense for Ozenbaugh, a dear friend, and his impact was immediate. Running back Michael Kamps spearheaded an offensive attack that averaged 38.6 points and 354 yards per game.
“Randy has been giving back to the athletic community for years now as a coach and role model for elementary to high school athletes,” Tameling said. “He is passionate about helping Ripon Christian student-athletes grow off the athletic field as well as on it. We look forward to coach Fasani continuing to build the tradition of the Ripon Christian football program for years to come.”
Fasani will be surrounded by familiar faces. Outside of Ozenbaugh, Fasani will return the entire coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Eddie Erdelatz, who engineered one of the top scoring defenses in the section.
"You know what's exciting is that typically after a long football season, coaches need time off to relax and recover. Our coaching staff is on fire for next season," Fasani said. "They're already talking about what we need to do to improve and get better."
With the coaching framework in place, Fasani's first task will be to complete the 2019 schedule. Ripon Christian has a Week Zero opening and is looking for a test right out the chute. "We want to know where we're at," Fasani said. The Knights inquired about games with Ripon and East Union, both larger schools, but neither had openings in their schedules.
"I think the sky is the limit," Fasani said. "As a school and coaching staff we want to build a successful program where kids in the 209 area code want to transfer to Ripon Christian and play football. I can't predict the future, but I know that we have an amazing coaching staff, and coming off a season like the last, naturally, I think people will be attracted to Ripon Christian. I'm confident next year will be another successful year. Hopefully in the near future, we'll get a few transfers to come to Ripon Christian. Ultimately, we want them have a wonderful experience getting a Christian education, and at the same time competing for section and state championships."
Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at email@example.com.