RIPON — Balance and discipline.
Second-seeded Ripon used an extremely balanced attack Friday night and kept its composure when the wheels were falling off the Foothill wagon late in the game to post a 41-7 victory in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V football playoffs at Stouffer Field.
The No. 2 Indians (10-1) face third-seeded Amador High of Sutter Creek next Friday in the semifinals.
“This group is not a selfish group at all,” Ripon coach Chris Musseman said. “We spread the ball around and we are lucky to be talented enough that we can give it to one of six or seven guys and it is all good.”
The Indians defense was suffocating. With the No. 10 Mustangs (8-4) of Sacramento riding a four-game winning streak and senior running back Dae’vonnie Williams having gained nearly 300 yards with five touchdowns last week, Ripon knew it had its work cut out.
And work the Indians defense did.
Williams could manage only 30 yards, and Foothill gained just 111 total offensive yards.
“We have an extremely disciplined defense and our kids play hard,” Musseman said. “They believe in our system and I think we have a great defensive staff that gets our kids in the right spot and it helps when you have great effort.”
Nathan Valdez had the defensive play of the night for Ripon. Early in the second quarter, just one play after he made a sack, Valdez darted through to block a punt to set up one of Aaron Wood’s two touchdowns on a 17-yard run four plays later to put the Indians ahead 21-0.
With time running out in the first half Valdez nailed a 32-yard field goal — he had another from 41 yards out — with his clock-beater putting Ripon ahead 24-7 at halftime.
“I didn’t think I was actually going to get that block,” Valdez said. “We have a certain defense that we use for blocks.
“They made a hole for me and I got it.”
Wood (eight carries, 64 yards) added a 13-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
“The blockers did their job,” Wood said. “The made the openings and I just ran it.”
Grant Wiebe (13 carries, 72 yards) scored from 3 yards out in the first quarter to put Ripon on the board. Wiebe had an uncanny knack all night of sneaking into the Mustangs secondary by forcing would-be tacklers to miss.
“The line opened up great holes,” Wiebe said. “I read them and go where they give me openings and I do the best I can to get every single yard possible.”
Nico Ilardi directed the Indians offense flawlessly, completing 10 of 13 passes for 151 yards. Brandon Rainer added a 34-yard touchdown run for Ripon and Danny Hernandez bulled in a score from 3 yards out.
Along with Valdez, Wiebe, Rainer and Simon Defreitas, Caleb Delgado spent a fair amount of time in the Mustangs backfield, helping to force seven plays of negative yardage for Foothill.
“We came in knowing they were going to try and run the option,” Delgado said. “And they were trying to run outside on us.
“We have the guys and the speed to get outside and we did and we shut them down.”
Things went way south for the Mustangs in the fourth quarter with four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and two ejections.
“That’s just something we preach all year,” Musseman said of his team not reacting to other teams’ lack of discipline. “We have this thing we call swag and it’s about your behavior, how you act and your character.
“No matter what the score is, up or down, we just won’t behave that way.”
For most of the fourth period the Indians chewed up nearly every second of the play clock, trying to bring about a resolution that kept everyone healthy.
“The game was over,” Musseman said. “We’re not out here to score a million points, we’re out here to move on to the next round.
“The game was decided. We’re not going to run a million plays and with our limited numbers the less plays the better.”
Foothill 0 7 0 0 — 7
Ripon 7 17 14 3 — 41
R—Grant Wiebe 3 run (Nathan Valdez kick), 8:42
R—Brandon Rainer 34 run (Valdez kick), 11:53
R—Aaron Wood 17 run (Valdez kick), 8:40
F—Eddie Desoto 3 run (Ali Saskhan kick), 3:24
R—Valdez 32 FG, :00
R—Danny Hernandez 3 run (Valdez kick), 5:10
R—Wood 13 run (Valdez kick), 1:05
R—Valdez 41 FG, 7:13