RIPON – It was far from perfect, but good enough. Ripon High pushed across its third touchdown just before halftime, jumping out on the Ceres Bulldogs 21-7 and never looked back in a 28-7 victory to open the season.
The Indians got a stellar effort from their ground game, punishing Ceres with over 250 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. Junior running back Josh McCreath led the attack with 93 yards on 19 carries, and was one of three backs with over 65 yards.
“I thought that we did a lot of things well in spots, but I think we can be better,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “Maybe my expectations are a little high, but I really think we can be better. The offensive line is going to come along and they are going to get better.
“I think we showed some good backs with a lot of diversity in there, and that’s what our offense is designed for.”
Ripon looked on its way to an even more lopsided victory but continuously kept the Bulldogs in the contest with miscues. Ceres took advantage of a personal foul to get to the Ripon 9-yard-line and scored its only touchdown on a 5 yard run from George Arroyo.
“There were obviously some things that we are going to have to work on,” Johnson said. “We were our own worst enemy a lot tonight with the penalties and blowing some assignments, but we knew playing a zero week game we were going to make some mistakes.
“We did have glimpses of the potential the team has and if we can stay healthy and put it together, we have some good things ahead of us.”
Ripon came out and posted a quick three-and-out on defense and promptly rolled 78 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a 13-yard touchdown scamper from Anthony Baciocco. Bacciocco finished with 88 yards on 16 carries, getting the momentum going with 58 first-half rushing yards.
Quarterback Kyle Wengel did a remarkable job in his first start as the Indians’ signal caller, completing 57 percent of his passes for 134 yards. Wengel tossed a pair of redzone touchdowns, including a nice fade route to wideout Jake McCreath with less than a minute remainng in the first half.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game out here,” Wengel said. “Having McCreath out there is nice. I have all the faith in him, so if I throw it up there I know he’s coming down with it.
“We all came through when we needed to, we just need to fix some of our stupid mistakes.”
Baciocco also had a nice short-yardage touchdown grab in the third, when Wengel rolled back to his right and found Baciocco with a perfect pass past a Ceres defensive back. Junior Tyler Swortfiguer made his presence felt, busting loose for a 62-yard run with Ripon pinned deep in its own territory. Swortfiguer would get in the end zone three plays later.
The Indians (1-0) will try and make it two straight when they make a trip to Linden to take on the Lions. Game time is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.