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Early turnovers put Ripon Christian in 30-0 first-quarter hole
Ripon Chrisitan's Dale Fisher (33) and Wyatt Van Vliet (5) get the tackle on Rio Vista's Dakota Mills (6) as Rio Vista High football team defeated Ripon Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII final on Saturday at Lincoln High in Stockton - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin




Ripon Ch. 7 7 7 7 — 28


Rio Vista 30 12 6 8 — 56




First quarter


RV — Noah Arroyo 38 interception return (Chase Kimbrow pass from Ethan Medders), 10:20.


RV — Ryan Hurley 1 run (kick fail), 8:10.


RV — Hurley 81 pass from Medders (Medders run), 5:00.


RV — Dakota Mills 73 run (Hurley run), 1:51.


RC — Michael Kamps 10 run (Andrew Vander Weide kick), 1:27.




Second quarter


RV — Mills 64 run (kick fail), 9:32


RV — Quinn McGill 26 pass from Medders (kick blocked), 1:19.


RC — Dillon Zuidervart 41 pass from Mark Ozenbaugh (Vander Weide kick), 0:00.




Third quarter


RV — Mills 27 run (pass fail), 4:42.


RC — Dominic Darretta 23 pass from Ozenbaugh (Vander Weide kick), 2:39.




Fourth quarter


RC — Drew Van Vliet recovered fumble in end zone (Vander Weide kick), 11:08.


RV — Hurley 5 run (pass from Medders), 6:34.


STOCKTON — With Rio Vista having four scoring plays that averaged 45 yards or better in the first quarter, Ripon Christian dug itself a huge hole it could not get out of Saturday and lost the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship 56-28 at Lincoln High’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium.  


“We do come out hot,” Rio Vista coach Chris Medders said. “Our battle is more often to play for 48 minutes with peaks and valleys.”  


The Rams had just 22 players on the roster in winning their first section title.


“That is how we are used to playing,” Medders said. “Even on our junior varsity level we play with like 16 kids, so playing with 22 is more than we normally have.”  


While the Rio Vista offense was in high gear with 534 total yards, it was the defense that jump started the scoring parade for the Rams. Not even two minutes into the game Noah Arroya returned an interception 28 yards for a Rio Vista touchdown, and a fumble on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by Justin Donaldson set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Ryan Hurley (15 carries, 85 yards, three touchdowns) with still 8 minutes to go in the opening period.    


“Hats off to Rio Vista,” Knights coach Trey Ozenbaugh said. “They did what they needed to do. We certainly gave them the start that we had hoped for. Not to take anything away from them as they didn’t do anything we didn’t anticipate, we just didn’t stop it.”  


The Rams (9-3) had two more long scoring plays in the first quarter before Michael Kamps got the Knights (7-4) on the board with 27 seconds left in the period on a 10-yard run to come within 30-7.  


On the last play of the first half, Mark Ozenbaugh (17 of 36 passing, 290 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions) spotted Dillon Zuidervaart (five receptions, 122 yards) with a 41-yard scoring pass, but Rio Vista still led comfortably 42-19 at halftime.


“We play as a team,” Mark Ozenbaugh said. “We don’t point fingers and we have short memories and that is what allowed us to get back and not to quit.


“We’ve been a second-half team this year and the guys have fight in them. We battled. We dug ourselves a hole early but we kept fighting.”  


The Knights scored twice in the second half — once on a 23-yard pass from Mark Ozenbaugh to Dominic Darretta (two receptions, 53 yards), and the other when the Rams muffed a punt snap, allowing Drew Van Vliet to cover the ball in the end zone for the last Ripon Christian touchdown of the day to make the score 48-28 with 11:08 left in the game.  


“I was supposed to just block,” Van Vliet said. “And then I saw the snap go over his head. 


“I flew over there and it looked like two guys had already jumped on it but it popped out of the back. I got lucky, I guess.”  


Wyatt Van Vliet led the Knights defense with 10 tackles followed by Darretta with nine, Dale Fisher with seven, Sean McGovern (interception) with six and Tristan Da Shields with five.  


“After coach talked to us in the locker room at halftime we played much better in the second half,” Wyatt Van Vliet said.  


Michael Solario had 55 yards on nine carries for Ripon Christian and Maximus Steele added 53 yards on eight carries. 


Dakota Mills had touchdown runs of 73 and 64 yards for Rio Vista, finishing with 173 yards on 10 carries. Ethan Medders had 173 passing yards for the Rams, going 13 of 18 with an 81-yard scoring pass to Hurley and another one of 26 yards to Quinn McGill along with one interception.