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RCs supporting cast will have to play like stars
Ripon Christian will need production from its supporting cast, namely QB Billy Marr (2) and WRs Spencer Hower (15) and Jared Stuit (not pictured). - photo by HIME ROMERO

Andrew Brown this. Andrew Brown that.

His teammates at Ripon Christian don’t mind that he’s getting much of the attention this season, but they do razz him about it.

“Oh yeah. I get teased a little bit but it’s in good fun,” Brown said.

Le Grand won’t be in a joking mood this Friday when it visits Ripon High’s Stouffer Field for the Southern League championship. Last season, the Knights put a damper on Le Grand’s senior night with a surprising 35-21 win. It ended the Bulldogs’ 28-game league winning streak and forced a three-way hold of the conference crown.

On Friday it comes down two teams that have one combined loss, with Le Grand checking in with the perfect 9-0 record.  

“If we’re going to beat Le Grand we have to do it as a team, not with just individuals,” said Kevin Kramer, who starts at middle linebacker and backs up Brown on offense. Kramer has rushed for 341 yards (7.6 per carry) and five touchdowns.

Brown shares the sentiment, but it’s understandable why the spotlight has shined so brightly on the third-year star. He owns every program single-season and career rushing record. His 41 touchdowns and 251 points the state, according the MaxPreps.

And CalHiSports reported on Wednesday that his 112 career touchdowns are a new Sac-Joaquin Section record, surpassing the 107 compiled by Central Catholic standout Louis Bland (2004-07). A single touchdown this Friday puts Brown on the state’s top-10 list, and he will have opportunities to climb even higher in the postseason.

“It’s a testament to how hard the coaches worked us in the nine months we have in between seasons,” said Brown, who has rushed for 2,034 yards and is also the team’s top receiver (27 catches, 534 yards, 6 TDs). “My success is only (a product) of everybody else’s hard work. One guy doesn’t make a team, you need the 10 others. And if one guy goes down we need the next guy to come in and play at the same level if not more intensely than the starters.”

It is the threat of others, Brown insists, that has helped him record such gaudy numbers. He is always quick to give a nod to the hard-working line led by third-year varsity player Eric Broker. He is also grateful to have his best friend, Casey Kamper, pave the way at fullback. Kamper (397 yards, 7 TDs) himself can do damage as a carrier, averaging 10.7 yards per attempt.

“We have weapons all around,” Kamper said. “We’re a well-rounded team. Andrew is definitely our main weapon, but we have others that we can definitely go to.”

The emergence of quarterback Billy Marr (57.4 completion percentage, 1,228 yards, 15 TDs, 2 interceptions) has been key. He was Dan Vos’ understudy as a sophomore a season ago and had big shoes to fill entering the season.

“When it comes to Billy, the improvement that I’ve seen in him is incredible,” Brown said. “Last year, whenever he had the chance to play things were a little rocky and he was always a little nervous. At the beginning of this season he showed how much he wanted it with how much he worked to get better.

“Now, he’s easily one of the best quarterbacks in the area with how accurate he is and how he makes his reads.”

While Brown gets most of the touches in the passing game, Marr said he has full confidence in throwing to his receivers when it is warranted. With most of their games ending in blowouts, the need to chuck it downfield isn’t always there for the Knights.

Tight end Jared Stuit (16 receptions, 269 yards, 3 TDs) has been a pleasant surprise. Senior Spencer Hower (11 receptions, 261 yards, 3 TDs) was RC’s second-leading receiver in 2012 but is targeted less this year because the team has more options — sophomores Jonah Lewis and Ethan McMurray among them.

“They all have very reliable hands,” Marr said. “Of course passing has been secondary in our offense this year, but it’s there if we need it. I know that when we get into those situations where we need a passing play to get the first down we can deliver.”

Credit also goes to the man at the controls.

Two years ago, Randy Fasani joined the coaching staff as offensive coordinator and introduced innovative schemes that catered to the strengths of the playmakers.

“We’re very creative with our offensive scheme,” said Fasani, now in his first year as head coach. “We just don’t run a pro-style offense or a spread offense or a run-heavy offense — we run a little bit of everything.

“I think our different alignments confuse people and it allows Andrew to get open.”

Brown has found 41 openings to the end zone so far, thanks to those around him. The SL throne awaits the victor Friday night, and there is room for more than one.

“It’s the ultimate team sport,” Fasani said. “If you have a bunch of individuals playing on your team you may as well chalk it up as a losing season.”