RIPON — Before Ripon High kicked off its home opener against Linden Friday night, a ceremony was staged to recognize the efforts of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation and many others who helped get most of Phase 1 of the Stouffer Field Revitalization Project finished in time for kickoff.
The Indians football team showed their thanks by throttling Linden, 47-7.
“It was a great atmosphere tonight,” said Anthony Baciocco, one of Ripon’s many shining stars on this special night. “I would like to thank all the fans and everyone in town who supported us. It was just a great win for us.”
Ripon (2-0) showed no ill effects from waiting behind a tunnel for about 15 minutes prior to the game while the Lions warmed up on the other end of the field. Josh McCreath capped off the team’s opening drive — which spanned 80 yards on 11 plays in 3 minutes, 17 seconds — with an 11-yard touchdown scamper.
Baciocco later scored from 9 yards out off a short pass from Kyle Wengel, then again three plays later on the defensive end with a 35-yard interception return.
And just like that it was 20-0 Ripon with still 59 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
“It was driving me crazy, but (the players) were ready to go,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said of the wait caused by the pregame ceremony. “A lot of people put a lot of effort into this and they deserved to be recognized.”
Baciocco ended up hitting pay dirt three different ways. He extended Ripon’s lead early in the second quarter with a 41-yard sprint and finished with 74 yards on 10 rushes. McCreath led a physical ground attack with 84 yards on 13 rushes.
Quarterback Kyle Wengel carved up the Lions’ defense to the tune of 159 yards on 9-of-12 passing with three touchdowns and a pick. Two of his TD tosses were to the speedy Bradley Clark, who darted passed the goal line on 55- and 25-yard plays.
All told, Ripon outgained Linden 441 (282 rushing) to 146. The defense caused three turnovers with Michael Morris and Lucas Bunting coming up with fumble recoveries. Michael Ysit contributed a quarterback sack and also chipped in a 14-yard TD run in the third quarter.
“We played great tonight,” Baciocco said. “We had a great game plan coming in. We played very good defense and our offense obviously put up a lot of points tonight. The line blocked did an awesome job, and I’m thankful for them.”
Linden (1-1), which handled Gustine 56-7 last week, didn’t get on board until there was 5:21 left in the game. Its top running back, Andrew Lewis, scored from a yard out and accumulated the majority of his 65 yards on the scoring drive against Ripon’s second-team defense.
Coach Johnson was pleased with the improvements his team made from its 45-0 shellacking of Bret Harte in week zero.
“I thought our team played a little better,” he said. “We adjusted quite a bit in practice. We talked about setting an expectation for ourselves. It doesn’t really matter who we play, we want to play our game. We want to play hard and we want to play fast, and we want to play as good as we practice.
“That’s a good football team,” Johnson said of Linden. “They have some good athletes and some good-sized kids, so we knew we had to prepare well for this game. Our kids responded well.”