WHAT: SJS D-VI playoffs
WHO: (4) Ripon Ch. vs. (5) Elliot Ch.
WHERE: Modesto Christian High
WHEN: Today, 7 p.m.
ADMISSION: $10 adults, $7 seniors/students, Free for kids 5-under
Ripon Christian’s football team doesn’t mind not being awarded the playoff bye week it deserved.
Based on the criteria that the Sac-Joaquin Section uses as a guideline to determine seedings for its postseason brackets, the Knights (8-2), co-champions of the Southern League, should be No. 2 opposite No. 1 Foresthill in the six-team Division-VI field.
Complicating matters for the section’s playoff committee, three teams from the Central California Athletic Association qualified and make up half the bracket, and first-round matchups between league rivals are avoided at all costs.
In this case, Ripon Christian has to take the hit. Stockton’s Brookside Christian, the CCAA outright champ, was slotted at No. 2, while RC gets dropped to the fourth spot for a rematch with No. 5 Jim Elliot Christian of Lodi, also a CCAA squad. With neighboring Ripon High occupying its own Stouffer Field for a Division-IV opener, RC is hosting tonight’s game at Modesto Christian.
Ripon co-head coach John Vander Schaaf and the Knights shrug it off. The reward, says Vander Schaaf, is more football.
“We didn’t want a bye week,” Vander Schaaf said. “It would be hypocritical for us to complain about not getting a bye, because we tell our kids to enjoy every opportunity they have to play the game.”
Ripon Christian beat Elliot 28-13 in the season opener for both teams. The Knights scored the game’s first 28 points while holding 5-foot-11, 200-pound RB Ben Huckaby to just 28 yards on 11 carries. Huckaby has since rushed for over 300 yards in two games and has 1,640 along with 22 touchdowns.
Sophomore QB Holden Butler, though, threw for 264 yards, two scores and four picks.
“We were just so poor in defending the pass that maybe they chose to not give it to (Huckaby),” Vander Schaaf said. “It’s not our intention this time — we’d like to stop them both.”
Elliot Christian (7-3) went on to place third in the CCAA and was on the losing end of a 19-14 upset to Big Valley Christian; a team RC handled 47-0 in Week 3.
The Knights are a different team than the one that saw Elliot Christian earlier in the season. They welcomed in new players to bolster their offensive line. The defensive unit was decimated by injuries in the following weeks, but for last week’s eye-opening upset at Le Grand — the favorite to win a third straight SJS Division V title — RC had its full complement of players for the first time this season.