Ripon Christian’s first-year defensive coordinator Eddie Erdelatz has coaching in his ancestry.
Erdelatz’s grandfather, also Eddie Erdelatz, was the head football coach at Navy for nine years (1950-58).
In 1955, the Midshipmen won the Sugar Bowl and he later led his ball club to a 9-1-1 record and a 20-7 victory over Rice in the ’57 Cotton Bowl.
Erdelatz was also the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers prior to his stint with Navy and later became the first-ever head coach of the AFL’s Oakland Raiders.
“Football is definitely in my blood,” said Erdelatz, who coached the Knights to a 46-0 shutout during last Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI semifinal. “My dad was an All-American running back and my grandfather was a college player and was taken in the very first NFL Draft as a player for Chicago.
“My grandfather also coached and had a lot of success with the U.S. Naval Academy.
“I say that with pride in the family, but it really has absolutely zero reflection on my ability. In terms of coaching, to be quite honest, it has no bearing on my ability or anything I’ve learned. But I’ve definitely developed a love of the game through my grandfather and dad.”
Just like his grandfather made history with the Navy and at the professional rank, Erdelatz now has his own chance to make local history with the Knights.
Ripon Christian (10-2) will be making its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI finals appearance in the 10th-year program’s history Saturday against No. 1 seeded Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento. The Division VI championship will be at Lodi’s Grape Bowl at 1 p.m.
“Bradshaw has a power-house offense. We definitely have our hands full,” Erdelatz said. “Our mindset is to try and do everything we can to slow them down and keep the ball in our offense’s hands.
“(Bradshaw) is also very well-balanced. They throw the ball efficiently. Once they establish the run, then they’ll pass. Last week we saw a run-offense and the kids played lights-out defense. It was a great game to get ready for this, but with all due respect to Woodland Christian, Bradshaw is three times the team when it comes to the power run.”
Third-seeded Ripon Christian has a solid defense featuring four underclassmen who will definitely be up to the task.
The team’s top defensive standout, sophomore Will Kamps, leads the team in sacks (19) and is one of the tops in the state.
Kamps’ 19 sacks are good enough for top three in the Sac-Joaquin Section, ninth in the state and 37th in the nation. Kamps is California’s leader in sacks for sophomores.
Another sophomore standout is Ethan McMurray (29 tackles, 1 sack), just one of several players who go both ways and has tallied four touchdowns offensively on the year.
Junior Jake Schollenberg and seniors Eric Broker (30 tackles) and David Henderson (31 tackles) have also been staples on a defense giving up 18.1 points per game this year.
Ripon Christian gave up 20 points during a first-round victory over Stone Ridge Christian, a team that runs a nearly identical offense that Bradshaw will be running Saturday.
“Interestingly enough on Saturday my dad found an old book with everything from the 1955 Navy team that my grandfather had put together,” said Erdelatz. “Offense, defense, special teams — the whole thing.
“Coincidentally, the defense that we put together for Bradshaw, which was a similar defense that we put together for Stone Ridge (Christian), is the same thing that my grandfather ran back at Navy.
“Bradshaw is kind of an old school, ground-and-pound (team). It’s very simplistic, so it’s not one of our defenses that we have in our system. We had to specifically game plan and put this together.”
Erdelatz was asked to come up from coaching the sophomore team last year by the squad’s first-year head coach Randy Fasani – a former NFL quarterback who was drafted out of Stanford by the Carolina Panthers in 2002.
Fasani joined the squad in 2011 as an offensive coordinator, where he coached alongside Erdelatz, the team’s then-linebackers coach. In 2012, Fasani was the team’s offensive coordinator/co-head coach.
In each of the last two seasons, Ripon Christian has made it to the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI tournament and lost on the road.
This year, the Knights clinched their first section-finals appearance with an impressive shutout against second-seeded Woodland Christian.
Fasani, Erdelatz and the rest of the Knights have a chance to go down in the Ripon Christian annals by winning the school’s first blue banner.
“Defense is the mentality,” Erdelatz concluded. “It’s not cerebral like on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is different and has the most aggressive players on the field that fly to the ball.
“The players have bought into that. We’re not the biggest, but we have some good players that have a lot of heart. We’re getting 11 to the ball, and that’s more important.”