AT A GLANCE
All games kick off at 7 p.m.
• No. 15 Central Va. (6-4)
at No. 2 Manteca (9-1)
• No. 13 Dixon (6-4) at
No. 4 Ripon (9-1)
• No. 9 Sierra (7-3) at
No. 8 Colfax (8-2)
• No. 6 Stone Ridge (5-5)
at No. 3 RC (8-2); hosted at Modesto Christian
$10 adults, $7 students/seniors, 5-under free
By JONAMAR JACINTO
A little rest. A little relaxation.
And a little bit of work in between, of course.
Ripon High’s football team is coming off a rare Week-10 bye, a luxury afforded to few others in the Sac-Joaquin Section. It is especially appreciated by playoff qualifiers.
Head coach Chris Johnson said the team enjoyed days off at the start and end of last week, with shorter-than-usual practices on Tuesday-Thursday spent on getting back to basics and working out the kinks. It also gave leading playmaker Michael Ysit (1,076 rushing yards, 240 receiving, 20 total TDs) another week to lay off a sore ankle.
“We basically recharged ourselves physically and mentally while getting ready for the playoffs,” Johnson said.
Surely there were nervous moments in the hours leading up to last Saturday’s unveiling of the postseason brackets. Well, even that went smoothly for the 9-1 Indians, who were designated the fourth seed in Division IV and paired with No. 13 Dixon for Friday’s opening round. Also Friday, Ripon Christian tangles with visiting Stone Ridge Christian. The Division VI matchup will take place at Modesto Christian.
Last season, Ripon went 10-0 in the regular season and was awarded with the No. 3 seed and a second-round date with eventual state champion Central Catholic, which had the most trouble with the Indians in its postseason run. Now, they won’t have to see Central until the semifinal round, provided they get past Dixon and the Calaveras-Hughson winner first.
“We are pleased with our seeding,” Johnson said. “We are actually better off than we were last year when we were 10-0.
“Division IV is a very interesting bracket. When you throw Sierra, Placer and Center into the mix, plus Central Catholic and the five (Trans-Valley League) schools, it makes for some very interesting matchups.”
The TVL is well represented in the bracket, with undefeated champion Hilmar, Escalon, Modesto Christian and Hughson included.
Ripon and Dixon (6-4) meet in the postseason for the first time. They share a common opponent in Linden, which was blanked by Ripon 41-0. The Lion upended Dixon, 20-7.
Johnson is making sure his troops aren’t overlooking the Rams, the runners-up in the Golden Empire League. Dixon started the season 1-3 but is playing better ball of late.
Nolan Williams is Dixon’s best player. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder quarterbacked last year’s team to a 9-2 record but moved to running back for the start of the season as coach Wes Besseghini and his staff installed a wing-T offense. Williams has since moved back under center.
Brent Hansen (6-3, 290) anchors Dixon’s big offensive line, and the defense is led by good-sized linebackers.
“Dixon has some good skill players,” Johnson said. “It looks like their running back is actually now playing quarterback for them. They run a similar style of offense as we do. They are big upfront and won four games in a row to get them into the playoffs. At this point in the year everyone is good and we are excited for the challenge.”
Ripon Christian (8-2), No. 3 in Division VI, welcomes a first-time qualifier in sixth-seeded Stone Ridge (5-5), which defeated Big Valley Christian 40-13 last week to sneak into the postseason as the Central California Athletic Alliance runner-up. The Knights of Merced also have notable wins over Turlock Christian (35-6) and Elliot Christian (48-42). Why notable? RC’s Knights topped all three far more convincingly.
Stone Ridge Christian does most of its damage on the ground with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Estevon Herrera and Jaime Trevino.
The winner travels to No. 2 Woodland Christian (9-1), which has a first-round bye.