RIPON — Ripon High coach Chris Musseman stressed to his team about the importance of jumping out to a fast start in Friday's opener against visiting Weston Ranch.
"We really don't have the big numbers with this team," he said, referring to his roster of 20.
The Indians did just that and more to the new-era Cougars under first-year coach Sal Reyes. His team showed early jitters, coughing up the ball on the first play from scrimmage at Stouffer Field.
Ripon (1-0) seized the opportunity by scoring four times, including a safety in the first eight minutes of the game, cruising to a 52-6 win.
This was Weston Ranch's second straight year of opening the season at Ripon.
After falling behind 29-0 in that tough opening quarter, the Cougars (0-1) began to settle down.
"This was our first game, our first taste of contact — there's plenty of room for improvement," Reyes said.
Unfortunately, his team's rough start opened the flood gates for the Indians, who were quick to score after recovering the opening fumble.
Danny Hernandez, who scored twice, zipped around the Weston Ranch defense, going 20 yards to paydirt on second play for Ripon.
The Indians defense featured a sack by Troy Brogan and stops for negative or minimal gain by Nathan Valdez and Hernandez.
Ripon cashed in again on offense with senior quarterback Nico Ilardi connecting with Brandon Rainer for a 26-yard TD.
The Indians' Jeremiah Willey and Caleb Delgado converged on Weston Ranch quarterback Atlantis Gholston in the end zone for a safety.
Moments later, Grant Wiebe helped extend Ripon's lead, 23-0, scoring on a 61-yard run. He finished with a game-high 93 yards on six carries.
Ilardi, who completed 5 of his 8 passes for 69 yards, found Brogan for 7-yard score.
Rainer scored his second touchdown midway through the second. His 12-yard scoring run gave the Indians a 36-0 advantage.
The Cougars, who drove the ball deep into Ripon territory late in the first only to be denied, delivered on a big play with under two minutes before the half.
Gholston uncorked a bomb to wide receiver Eric Shivers, who caught the ball in stride, racing 87 yards to the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hernandez returned the favor, going 82 yards to give his team a big 43-6 halftime advantage.
The second half with the running clock was highlighted by Valdez's 34 yard field goal and Adam Wood's 40-yard touchdown run.
The Cougars' 5-5, 140-yard running back Aaron Vickers displayed his speed and elusiveness in the backfield and on kick returns.
Shivers caught two passes for 103 yards and a score.
"Weston Ranch has some very good players to watch out for," said Musseman, who is preparing his team for a tough battle against visiting Sonora next week.
W . Ranch 0 6 0 0 — 6
Ripon 29 14 3 6 — 52
R—Danny Hernandez 20 run (Nathan Valdez kick), 11:07
R—Brandon Rainer 26 pass from Nico Ilardi (Valdez kick), 9:04
R—Atlantis Gholston sacked in end zone by Jeremiah Willey and Caleb Delgado, 6:55
R—Grant Wiebe 61 run (Valdez kick), 6:41
R—Troy Brogan 7 pass from Ilardi (kick failed), 4:08
R—Rainer 12 run (Valdez kick), 6:21
W—Eric Shivers 87 pass from Gholston (run failed), 1:33
R—Hernandez 82 kickoff return (Valdez kick), 1:24
R—Valdez 34 FG, 4:33
R— Adam Wood 40 run (kick blocked), 7:45