RIPON – Michael Ysit sat on the bench on Ripon’s sideline and caught his breath.
In less than eight minutes, the speedy tailback had managed to score two offensive touchdowns – runs of 34 and 17 yards, respectively – and break a 91-yard kickoff return up the left sideline to give the Indians a two-score lead.
In a sense, he earned that breather.
But he wasn’t done.
The next quarter he broke another long touchdown, this time turning the corner around the right side and sprinting 64 yards for what was essentially the score that put the game out of reach of Calaveras and helped the Indians win, for the first time in 17 years, a second round CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game.
Ripon went on to crush the visiting Redskins 58-21, and set-up a rematch against the top-seeded Central Catholic Raiders – the team that knocked Ripon out in the second round last year.
“I’m not ready to be done and I was running as hard as I could and doing whatever I could to make sure that didn’t happen,” Ysit said. “The best thing about our offense is that we have a lot of guys that can hurt you. It isn’t any one single player but a bunch of guys that can make a difference with 10 carries.”
Ysit finished with 200 yards rushing on only 11 carries, and four total touchdowns – three of which came out of the Ripon backfield. As part of the team’s core group of seniors, Ysit said that Ripon has a renewed sense of focus that came after losing its only game to Hilmar earlier in the season.
“We were getting a little bit sloppy, and that game told us that we could be beaten,” he said. “Since then we’ve been refocused and doing the things that we’ve needed to do, and we’re going to carry that into next week against Central Catholic.”
Ripon struck first thank to Ysit’s two early touchdowns, but Calaveras’ big stable of running backs – led by Mike Seawell – didn’t seem to have any trouble running the ball out of the gate. It would be short-lived.
The Redskins were only able to score one touchdown to Ripon’s four at the start of the game, and the next two in the second quarter were bested by the pair that the Indians posted with a 34-yard field goal for good measure. Ripon scored the only points of the game in the second half – a pair of short goal-line touchdowns by Michael Morris.
As good as the Indians were on the ground, it was sophomore quarterback Nick Price that kept the tempo moving with an impressive 15-of-17 performance that included 12 straight completions to end the night. He finished with a pair of touchdown passes to Bradley Clark.
“We had a great week of practice and I think that right now we’re comfortable with one another,” Price said. “We’re not done yet. We’re focused, and we’ve got each other’s backs and we’re ready to see how far we can take this thing.”
Ripon will now face the Central Catholic Raiders of Modesto, who hold the No. 1 seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff bracket. The Raiders crushed the Colfax Falcons Friday night 57-27 to advance to the semi-finals against Ripon.
Last season Central Catholic knocked the Indians out in the second round of the playoffs.
“Right now our guys are really familiar with each other and they’re confident and they’re playing well together,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “We want our guys to reach their potential, and they’ve really bought into that. We look at ways that we can improve and get better and we’re fortunate that we’ve gotten better as the season has gone on.
“We’ve got a good veteran group of players with a lot of seniors and guys right now are excited about going up against Central Catholic. They want another shot.”