MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Ripon Christian had plenty to contend with in Friday’s zero-week opener.
They faced a much-improved Mustangs featuring their first senior class coupled with cold, blustery conditions and some timing issues typical of that first game of the season.
The Knights won, 15-3.
“Defense came up big,” said head coach Trey Ozenbaugh, who was quick to credit his defensive coordinator Eddie Erdalatz and assistant coach Kevin Van Donselaar. “We had a better game plan.”
Senior linebacker Jake Beukelman keyed the attack, stuffing up the middle while coming with a potential game-saving tackle early in the fourth quarter.
At the time, the Knights (1-0) held an 8-3 lead, scoring late in the first quarter on Zach Cortwright’s 16-yard run. They also got a safety in the second quarter after a punt by Cortwright came to rest at the Mountain House 1 yard line.
A botched snap in the zone was ruled a safety.
The Mustangs (0-1) scored on a 20-yard field goal by T.J. Dayak at the 7:29 mark of the second quarter.
Nursing the slim lead, RC had little room for error on defense. Mountain House running back Quinn Kalabolas broke off a 12-yard run with only Beukelman to beat.
The 6-0, 215 pound inside linebacker managed to grab hold of the ball carrier, making the big stop.
Later in the fourth, Willem Hoekstra came up with RC’s other big play on defense, breaking up a pass on fourth down.
“We fought for the brotherhood,” he later said of his team, recalling those opportune moments.
The Hoekstra play was immediately followed by sophomore running back Michael Kamps breaking loose on a 42-yard touchdown run.
“That put away the game,” Hoekstra added.
It tough for Ozenbaugh to evaluate his team offensively given the strong cross winds that wreaked havoc on the passing game.
“Mark (Ozenbaugh) did his best in these tough conditions,” said the RC coach on his quarterback.
The younger Ozenbaugh managed connect with his towering 6-6 senior tight end Ty Beidleman in setting up that first score late in the opening quarter.
A tough match-up for most team, Beidleman turn that short toss into a 29-yard gain to the Mountain House 16.
Cortwright scored on the ensuing play.
RC held the Mustangs to 48 rushing yards and allowed two pass completions for 40 yards.
“Overall, I was pleased with our performance,” coach Ozenbaugh said.