RIPON – There’s a pretty good chance this season that Jake McCreath will connect with Cole Herrin on a touchdown pass.
McCreath, who saw time last year as quarterback, is again tabbed to take some snaps behind center during the Ripon High’s 2011 campaign.
The Indians are looking to rebound from last year’s disappointing 5-5 mark, entering the new season with plenty of promise and experience. They were a win away from qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs last year, but the final berth went to league rival Orestimba, which defeated Ripon 40-21 in the final week of the regular season.
“We may be small in numbers but we have the potential,” said Herrin, who, as a junior, already has a year of varsity experience coupled with a school-record six interceptions to his credit.
“Playing here last year (as a sophomore) has made a big difference for me in terms of knowing what to expect,” he added.
Herrin (6-0, 165) will again see action at wide receiver on offense and safety on defense.
The multi-faceted McCreath, a 6-4, 230-pound senior, is expected to see plenty of action in the offensive backfield. He opened at fullback but has been working out during the preseason practices at wingback and quarterback.
McCreath is also expected to resume his spot at defensive end.
“I’ll play whatever (position) that will help our team,” he said.
Indians coach Chris Johnson indicated that the earlier practices in preparation for “Zero Week” – Ripon took part in the inaugural Sac-Joaquin Section contest a year ago and will do so again – went accordingly for his 31 players.
“This is our second week of practice and everything’s been up and down,” he recently said. “But that’s to be expected.
“We’re looking to strike up some balance – that’ll likely come with game situations and fundamentals.”
This season, Johnson and his coaching staff – included are Chris Musseman (defensive backs), Jorge Velasco (linebackers), Cole Williams (linebackers), Glen White (defensive line), Michael Merchant (wide receivers), Kris Ray (running backs), Troy Nakai (running backs), Loren Johnson (offensive line), and Ken Tyhurst (offensive line) – have changed up the early practice sessions by incorporating the lower levels of the RHS program.
“We’re looking to build some continuity in our program, from freshmen on up,” he said. “That way, the coaches will know the players by name as they come up (the ranks).”
Ripon also returns leading tackler T. J. Flores (5-10, 185, senior), who posted 94 tackles (60 solo) at linebacker, ranking him atop of the school record in that category.
Anthony Baciocco (5-8, 165, junior), who also saw plenty of action as sophomore a year ago, is expected to help out in the offensive backfield and at defensive back.
Among the top newcomers are junior quarterback Kyle Wengel (5-9, 170), junior running back / linebacker Tyler Swortfiguer, and sophomore lineman Kody Day (6-1, 230).
Johnson noted that the 15 players who started at least two games last year, not to mention the eight players returning on defense, appear to be his team’s strength. He’s hoping that will be enough to overcome the lack of depth.
Ripon will look to contend in the Trans Valley League, hoping to get influx from those who played on last year’s co-TVL champion sophomore squad which finished 8-2.
“All I‘m hoping for this season is that we do well,” said Herrin.