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Ripon QB quietly anchored teams incredible season
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The final game was no different than the first.

Kyle Wengel had the keys to the car.

He drove Ripon High’s dynamic offense from the opening snap to the last. In between, he did everything the Ripon coaching staff asked of him. With his team trailing 17-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV semifinal Wengel, found Anthony Baciocco and gave Ripon life.

Wengel quarterbacked Ripon to one of the best seasons in school history and did so without the fanfare or accolades of the go-to player. Sure, he threw for over 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns during Ripon’s incredible run, yet an erroneous red zone interception in final game has a way of tainting a pretty impressive legacy.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do the things we did without him,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said of Wengel’s season. “A lot of the other guys get the attention but that guy managed that offense. All year we were able to move the ball and put points up and you don’t do that without a good quarterback.

“That kid has come so far and grown up so much; we’re just darn proud of him.”

Wengel showed off his stripes when Ripon needed him most, throwing a dart to Baciocco who turned up field, made a defender miss, got a block from Bradley Clark and raced to Ripon’s first touchdown. The 60-yarder ignited everything associated with the program and gave the Indians enough of a spark to make it a game.

If you ask Wengel, he wouldn’t say it was his best effort, but at the same time he is secure enough in his success that he understands that the Indians run was something special. The fact that the teenager grasps that, moments after a heartbreaking loss, reveals the maturity of the Indians’ signal caller.

“I know this was a great season, I know that right now,” Wengel said. “I mean we went 11-1; we’re going to go down as one of the greatest teams to play in this town.”

The pressure that the Ripon QB toted into the quarterfinal matchup is something only a quarterback can comprehend. Each snap, each handoff, each pass, they all go through his hands. Each play call, each play signaled in and each snap count has to be processed by him.

Not to mention wanting to win more than anyone breathing.

“I knew that I had to come out and have an MVP game like everybody said,” Wengel said. “But it wasn’t just me, everybody had to come out and have an MVP-like performance. We just didn’t play to the best of our abilities.

“Central Catholic did a great job, they didn’t make any mistakes and we did.”

Not recognizing Kyle Wengel’s profound impact on Ripon’s program over the past two years would definitely be a mistake.