One streak ended, but the one that mattered more did not.
The Ripon Chiefs junior varsity squad entered Saturday’s Mother Lode Valley Football League Super Bowl at Sonora High riding a seven-game shutout streak, and with a 32-8 drubbing of the Argonaut Mustangs it ends the season perfect at 11-0.
Argonaut proved to be neither intimidated nor discouraged in the early going. The Chiefs defense forced a punt on the opening series, and Michael Solario’s 11-yard run combined with Nathan Valdez’s conversion out Ripon up 8-0. The Mustangs answered with a long drive punctuated by a 25-yard touchdown pass.
That made it 8-8, but not for long.
Ripon needed just two plays — Roland Davis’ 46-yard run and Solario’s 29-yard scoring scamper — to recapture the lead, and it regained possession after Dale Fisher recovered a fourth-down fumble. Quarterback Nicholas Illardi delivered a long toss to Derric Roy for a 46-yard touchdown pass completion, and the Chiefs rallied into the halftime break ahead, 24-8.
The second half was more of a defensive battle on both sides. It wasn’t until the end of the third quarter that Ripon threatened to score again thanks to Aiden Benzinger’s long punt return. Davis’ 25-yard rush set up Spencer Schroen’s 4-yard TD jaunt up the middle. Valdez booted his fourth straight conversion kick to cap the final score.
Ripon earned the first JV championship in the MVFL, which just completed its inaugural season. The league also consists of the AMA Jr. Bullfrogs, Amador Jr. Buffaloes, Calaveras Jr. Redskins, Escalon Outlaws, Hughson Huskies, Riverbank Raiders, Sonora Jr. Cats, Tuolumne Bears and Waterford Sabercats.