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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Brady Grondz, Ripon Christian football
AOW Brady Grondz
Brady Grondz

One of the smallest players on the field made three of the biggest plays for Ripon Christian last Friday at St. Mary’s High.

 Each play way key in helping top-seeded Knights lock up its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship. They shut out No. 3 Woodland Christian in the second half of the Division VII final to win 28-16.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” the 5-foot-10, 170-pound receiver/cornerback said after the game. “I don’t know what to feel. So much excitement, so much joy. So much happiness for not just us, but also the people who came before us who didn’t have this chance.” 

Grondz finished with 103 yards from scrimmage and 12 tackles on the defensive side. He was on the receiving end of a 42-yard touchdown pass from Trey Fasani early in the second quarter, giving the Knights (11-2) a 14-8 lead.

His other splashy plays were made within minutes of each other in the fourth quarter. His 43-yard catch on third down helped set up Fasani’s 14-yard scoring strike to Caleb Terpsma for the final points of the game, giving Ripon Christian some breathing room.

And with 5:19 remaining, he halted Woodland Christian’s comeback charge by intercepting Caden Pascoe’s pass in the back corner of the end zone, leaping in front of 6-2 wide out Carter Lang for the grab.

“I was just thinking we had to make a big play,” Grondz said. “I knew we had to somehow make a stop as a team, and that ended up happening.”

It’s his first pick of the season, though he leads the defense with 13 pass deflections. He also has 488 rushing yards, 249 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns and 56 tackles.

Ripon Christian next travels to Hughson (11-2) on Friday for the California Interscholastic Federation Division V-AA Northern Regional Bowl Game.