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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Aaron Wood, Ripon football
Bulletin sports 2020-21
Aaron Wood

Coming off a one-sided loss at home to East Union in its season opener, things were looking bleak for Ripon heading into its Week 2 showdown with powerhouse Manteca as multiple starters were out to injuries or COVID-19 quarantine. 

To keep up with talented and deeper Buffaloes, the Indians would have to try something different on offense. They looked for Wood to provide a spark. A fullback for the team's 2019 Division IV-AA state championship team, the now-senior quarterback leads the offense with his play-making ability as a runner. 

“He has never been a pocket quarterback, but we put that on him this week and he responded unbelievably,” Ripon coach Chris Musseman told the Bulletin after the game. 

In the March 26 match-up at Guss Schmiedt Field, he was unleashed as a passer and had the Indians a quarter away from pulling off the upset. Wood completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Malik Taylor with no time left in the third quarter, giving Ripon a shocking 28-23 lead after trailing 15-0 midway through the first.

Ultimately, Manteca's wore down the Indians in the final period and rolled to a 47-28 win. Wood had his best game as a quarterback, completing 11 of 17 passes for 243 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 45 yards.

“We grew a lot as a team,” Wood said. “We had people tire out, but everyone just stepped up and played their best. This just shows that we’re never going to give up and we’re here to play.”