SALIDA — Modesto Christian capped the school’s 50-year anniversary celebration and Homecoming festivities with a fireworks show immediately after Friday’s Trans-Valley League showdown with Ripon.
But it was the visiting Indians who were doing the celebrating after lighting up Roy Blakeley Field with a show of their own, as they fully established themselves as the ones to beat in the competitive TVL with their impressive 52-0 rout.
“It was kind of like a slap in the face them to have Homecoming against us,” Ripon QB Kyle Wengel said. “We were fired up and ready to go.”
Ripon (2-0, 6-0 overall) was coming off an emotional 34-28 win over reigning TVL champion Escalon, which had dominated their traditional rivalry for the previous 16 years. The victory itself wasn’t completely satisfying for head coach Chris Johnson and his staff.
Expectations have been raised for the Red Machine.
“We talked about how we need to be better than how we played against Escalon,” he said. “This is the best we’ve played. We felt that we hadn’t played our best all year.
“Our defense has played good one week and our offense played good another week, but we were able to put it together tonight. We have a pretty good team.”
Pretty good indeed.
Behind a punishing offensive line, Ripon’s Wing-T was able to score on every possession. Wengel completed 7 of 9 passes for 67 yards but threw for four touchdowns.
Josh McCreath plowed his way to 73 rushing yards and two scores on 19 carries, and Michael Morris ran it eight times for 103 yards and a TD. He also caught a 4-yard pass for the game’s first points with 9:41 to go in the opening quarter.
Michael Ysit backed up his big effort from the Escalon game with 77 yards on 10 rushes to go with a 4-yard TD reception.
Wide receiver Bradley Clark hauled in scoring passes from 1 and 27 yards out, and both were backbreakers for MC.
With 4:49 left in the second quarter, the Indians lined up to try a 20-yard field goal but drew the Crusader defense offsides. They opted to go for the touchdown from the 1. They caught MC, which had no timeouts left, off guard when only Clark, as the center, and Wengel lined up between the hash marks. Clark snapped the ball as three Crusaders ran past him, leaving him wide open in the end zone.
That made it 24-0, and McCreath’s 9-yard run gave widened the gap to 31-0 before halftime. Josh Clark helped set up McCreath’s touchdown with a 47-yard punt return.
Ripon converted again on its first drive of the second half with Wengel’s perfect 27-yard toss to Clark on third-and17.
The Indians had their way despite Cole Herrin, a standout receiver, being limited to kicking duties while hampered with a high ankle sprain. He was a perfect 6-for-6 on point-after attempts.
And Anthony Baciocco, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, was held to 32 yards rushing and 28 receiving. It didn’t matter.
“We have our whole backfield back and added a lot more to it,” Wengel said. “Anybody can break a 70-yard touchdown at any time. Our line is great — I barely got touched this whole game.”
The hard-hitting defense shut down an attack that had put up no less than 30 points in its past three contests, a stretch that includes last week’s 32-21 win over defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV champion Hilmar.
The Crusaders (1-1, 3-3) were limited to just 3 total yards from scrimmage in the first half and minus 25 yards rushing overall.
“We’re just a team,” said outside linebacker Lucas Bunting, who finished with five sacks. “We practice hard every day with nonstop effort. It took a whole team effort to stop a team like that.”