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Woodland Christian gets revenge against RC
Cardinals soar to early lead, race away in 4th quarter of NorCal qualifier
Ripon Christian-Woodland Christian football
Ripon Christian’s Brady Grondz (10) is corralled out of bounds by Woodland Christian’s Noah Hinkle. - photo by Wayne Thallander

SACRAMENTO – Ripon Christian buried itself in an early hole Saturday and never quite got out of it in a 36-14 loss to Woodland Christian in a NorCal qualifier at Hughes Stadium.

It’s a rematch of last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII final won by Ripon Christian, which repeated as Division VII-A champion. The Cardinals claimed the VII-B title.

Woodland Christian (13-0) was halted on the opening drive but awarded a safety after the Knights (12-2) muffed the ensuing punt.

Three plays after the Cardinals regained possession following the safety Isaiah Hunt (15 carries, 80 yards, two touchdowns; 8 of 12 passing, 60 yards, touchdown) punched it in from the 2-yard line for a 10-0 lead not even three minutes into the game.

Ripon Christian answered back with an 8 minute, 16 second, 80-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Mason Tameling (14 of 20 passing, 108 yards, touchdown, two interceptions) to Jace Beidleman followed by a conversion pass from the same tandem to draw within 10-8.

The Knights had an opportunity to take the lead late in the first half but opted to take a shot in the end zone on fourth-and-3 from the 8-yard line instead of attempting the short-range goal. Tameling’s pass to a well-covered Brady Grondz was overthrown, as RC came up empty-handed on a 9-minute drive.

Neither team would score again until the fourth period.

Knights coach Phil Grams was frustrated with the muffed punt being ruled a safety.

“I want to make it very clear that we didn’t lose the game because of the officials,” Grams said. “But they got that call wrong. In high-school football a muff into the end zone that you recover is a touchback. It’s in the rulebook as plain as day.

“They put us in a 10-0 hole with a call but that was not the difference in the ball game. We went right down and matched them and played well for a long time but I just couldn’t get the offense rolling with the run game and then our defense was on the field too long.”

Hunt was not even the starting quarterback. Gabe Sanchez went down with an injury two plays in and Hunt, just a sophomore, responded like a seasoned veteran. After his first-quarter score, he tallied two more in the final period on a 3-yard run and a 22-yard pass to Noah Hinkle (16 carries, 80 yards, two touchdowns; reception, 22 yards, touchdown). Hinkle scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on runs of 3 and 22 yards.

“You don’t ever want to see your quarterback go down two plays in,” Woodland Christian coach Michael Paschke said. “It really limited what I wanted to do.

“But I’ve never lost when I have been up two scores. I was surprised they went down and scored on us rather easily the first time.”

Too little, too late, but Brady Grondz gave the Knights something to cheer about when he returned a kickoff 87 yards with 5:19 left in the game to draw Ripon Christian within 29-20.

“I got my inner track season working early,” Grondz said. “I love to run and I was able to get out into the open space and go.”

Grant Sonke spearheaded the Ripon Christian defensive effort that kept the Knights in the game until the fourth quarter with 12 tackles. Preston Zuidervaart added eight tackles and Grondz seven. Sophomore safety Amos Cady recorded his seventh interception of the season in the final minute of the first half.

“I am so grateful for my coaches and all the players,” Sonke said. “We have been together since kindergarten so this hurts a little more, but I wouldn’t want to do it with any other guys.

“We came up short here, but we are back-to-back section and academic champions. I just can’t say enough about this team.” 


Ripon Christian 8 0 0 6 – 14

Woodland Christian 10 0 0 26 – 36


First quarter

W – Safety, 10:39

W – Isaiah Hunt 2 run (Noah Hinkle run), 9:19

R – Jace Beidleman 19 pass from Mason Tameling (Beidleman pass from Tameling), :56


Fourth quarter

W – Noah Hinkle 3 run (Cristian Morales kick), 8:39

W – Hinkle 22 run (run fail), 7:37

W – Hinkle 25 pass from Hunt (run fail), 5:35

R – Brady Grondz 87 kickoff return (pass fail), 5:19

W – Hunt 3 run (Morales kick), 1:43