RIPON—Two days after Ripon Christian lost the Sac-Joaquin Division VII championship last season, the Knights were back in the weight room looking forward to redemption.
And they took one step closer to that on Friday night in a 54-0 rout of the visiting Delhi Hawks to finish the regular season undefeated for the first time in program history while earning the outright Southern League championship.
“We talked a lot about that mindset and about doing things for ‘us’ rather than for ‘me’, and I think that you see that in these kids and the way they played tonight,” said Ripon Christian head coach Trey Ozenbaugh. “We have amazing kids that have dedicated themselves to achieving this goal and that’s a big difference – we’ve only had one speed this season and that is downhill and we’re looking at keeping this thing going.”
The Knights (7-0, 10-0 overall) at times made it look effortless against the winless Hawks, especially when it came to running the football.
Senior captain Michael Kamps was putting together respectable numbers early the game but proved he was simply waiting for the opportunity to strike, reeling off touchdown runs of 60- and 63-yards in which he was never touched en route to the end zone.
Having holes wide enough to drive a truck through, Kamps said, made it easy for him to shift into a higher gear once he broke through the line.
“It wasn’t me, it was the offensive line that was making those holes open up wide like that, and then it’s just my job to do what I can at that point,” said Kamps, who finished with 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns. “Everybody really works hard together because we believe in ‘us’ and when you have an amazing group of guys like this that are willing to put in the effort, you’re going to get good results.”
While Kamps did most of the damage for Ripon Christian, he got help from junior back Max Steele who contributed 109 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns.
The Ripon Christian defense was also able to force Delhi into essentially a goal-line offense to gain any yardage at all, and still managed to hold them to only 20 yards on the ground and 15 in the air.
The explosive offense and stout defense, Ozenbaugh said, look like they’re the winning combination so far this season, but with the outright league title the Knights will be moving up a division and will likely even stiffer competition than they did last year.
Even then, Ozenbaugh says they’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We’re going to play some good, tough teams — we’re going to have to move up to D-VI this year,” Ozenbaugh said. “But we’ll keep playing whoever they tell us to play until they tell us we can’t play anymore.”
Ripon Christian 21 19 7 7 — 54
Delhi 0 0 0 0 — 0
R—Ian Vrieling 6 pass from Cade Alger (Jacob Van Groningen kick), 8:09.
R—Michael Kamps 60 run (Van Groningen kick failed), 5:51.
R—Kamps 63 run (Kamps conversion run), 3:21.
R—Max Steele 58 run (Van Groningen kick failed), 10:14.
R—Kamps 20 run (Van Groningen kick blocked), 6:17.
R—Steele 5 run (Van Groningen kick), 0:22.
R—Kamps 12 run (Van Groningen kick), 0:42.
R—Dale Fisher 6 run (Van Groningen kick), 1:58.