Ripon didn’t face the stiffest of competition this preseason.
That doesn’t seem to matter much to head coach Chris Johnson, whose Indians (4-0) will be looking to knock off traditional Trans-Valley League powerhouse Escalon for a second straight season Friday at Stouffer Field in the league opener. Ripon Christian (2-1), meanwhile, makes its longest trip of the regular season as Mariposa awaits for a battle of Southern League contenders.
Last year was the first time Ripon defeated Escalon — and won the TVL title — in 16 years. It was a historical 2012 night that saw Ripon down Escalon on the road 34-28 on Sept. 21.
“I think our kids are feeling pretty good,” Johnson said. “We’ve proved we’re a pretty good football team, too. Our kids are fired up and excited to start the TVL. This is why we started working in June — for games like this.”
Ripon has wins over four teams with a combined 5-9 record, putting up 48 points a game in all blowouts. Escalon (2-2) has been tested, on the other hand.
“They have played a lot tougher schedule than us,” Johnson admitted. “Every game they’ve played in have been pretty tough battles.
“Both Pacheco (Los Banos) and Patterson, they took them right down to the wire. And the score with Linden, the common opponent we have, was pretty similar. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Ripon, who is coming off a shutout of Lathrop, will be looking to make a third consecutive playoff appearance while defending a TVL championship this time around.
“I don’t care how poor your opponents are,” Johnson concluded. “You don’t rush for 500 yards in a game, you don’t put up 50 points in a game and you don’t put up three shutouts unless you’re pretty good.”
Ripon Christian is darn good itself.
The Knights will open up Southern League play Friday night on the road against Mariposa and will also be a defending champion looking to repeat.
Last year, the Knights split the title with Le Grand. Now they will travel up the hill to play the Grizzlies of Mariposa Co. and begin their title defense after a 2-1 preaseason.
Ripon Christian, even with a shorthanded roster, has been impressive thus far, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
RC has put 47.3 points per game this year and have only lost to its cross-town rival Ripon.
Mariposa (3-0) has already defeated Summerville by five and routed Orestimba and Livingston the last two weeks.