MODESTO – Isaiah Burse made sure that Ripon Christian will never forget its last game in the Trans Valley League.
The Modesto Christian standout back erupted for three touchdowns in the first quarter to hand the Knights a 56-7 loss only one week after upsetting the Hughson Huskies and winning their second TVL game in a season for the first time in school history.
While the defeat was crushing, Ripon Christian head coach John Vander Schaaf says that all eyes are now on the future. An incoming class of sophomores and a talented team of returning juniors will help them when they move to the Southern League next season and take on opponents like Turlock Christian, Delhi, Le Grant, Waterford, and Denair.
“Anytime you look at your schedule and you see teams like Escalon and Modesto Christian and Ripon you know it’s going to be rough,” said Vander Schaaf. “We’re hoping that the jump will be a little bit easier on us, and after taking steps in the right direction over the course of the last three years we think we’re ready for that.”
The Knights’ lone score came when Tyler Voogd connected with Clayton Prins on a 10 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. A field goal attempt at the start of the second half that would have put Ripon Christian on the board fell short.
And being senior night, those who won’t be returning spent the majority of the night on the field – and some made the most of their last night on the gridiron. Defensive lineman Robert Hull managed to rack up 14 sacks on the night, and Voogd connected on seven passes against a stingy Crusader secondary.
But according to Vander Schaaf, heads weren’t hanging in the locker room even with a 49-0 deficit blaring on the scoreboard.
Being a relatively young program, the coach stressed that in the 70-year history of the school only a few have had the opportunity to play football and represent the Knights on the field in front of family, friends, and staff.
“Our philosophy this year was that we wanted to treat every game like an event – we wanted to come out and play as hard as we could because every single game was a blessing,” Vander Schaaf said. “These kids are lucky to be a part of a program that didn’t form for 70 years, and they’re making the most of it.
“They play each play like it’s a true blessing, and that’s something we want to carry over to next year.”
To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (209) 249-3544.