SALIDA -- Playing defense against Ripon High's offense is like going to Baskin Robbins to diet.
You know you're going to see many of the Indians' 31 different formations and they're all irresistible, but in the end Ripon is the side destined to get fat.
The Indians played to a running fourth-quarter clock for the fifth time this season Friday night in their 52-0 churning of Modesto Christian in what was supposed to be a Trans-Valley League showdown.
"Our offense is just so filthy," said junior running back/linebacker Michael Morris. "We have so many plays out of so many different formations. We have 31 different formations, so we're a nightmare for every defense we face. That's why we put up so many points. That's all coaching."
This could have been a trap game for Ripon (6-0 overall, 2-0 TVL), which beat Escalon with a last-minute touchdown last week for the first time since 1997.
Instead, according to coach Chris Johnson, the Indians arrived at practice on Monday with a renewed sense of purpose.
"This was our best week of practice all year," Johnson said. "The kids came in focused. We knew this was a big game because of the athletes Modesto Christian has. We talked all week about how we had to get better than we played at Escalon."
Ripon held MC to minus-19 yards rushing and 107 total yards while never allowing the Crusaders to get closer than the Indians' 25. Meanwhile, Ripon rolled up 343 yards of offense and reached the end zone on all seven of its offensive possessions.
Yes, that's about as close to a perfect performance as possible, made even more impressive because of the quality of the opponent. MC is 3-3 and 1-1 in the TVL and was coming off a victory over Hilmar. What's more, the Crusaders were celebrating homecoming and the school's 50th anniversary, which made the postgame fireworks echo hollow for the home team.
"This was our best game without a doubt, and we still feel that we have yet to play our best game," Johnson said. "Our defense has played good one week and our offense has played good the next week, and we finally put it together tonight."
The Indians took control almost instantly, moving the ball 65 yards on eight plays with their first drive, with Morris catching a 3-yard scoring pass from Kyle Wengel and Cole Herrin adding the first of seven conversions for a 7-0 lead.
The tone was firmly set when MC went three-and-out, then gave Ripon two points when its punt snap sailed through the end zone.
Wengel went on to complete eight of 10 passes for 83 yards and three scores, while Morris ran for 84 yards on seven carries, Josh McCreath added 76 yards on 20 bruising runs and Michael Ysit finished with 74 yards on eight carries.
Modesto Christian's deepest penetration came in the game's final minute, as quarterback Zack Megee completed six of nine passes for 75 yards against a defense manned primarily by clean shirts.
But with the ball on the Ripon 25, a pass across the middle left his receiver airborne and vulnerable, and Morris separated the player and ball with a vicious form tackle to save the shutout.
"We just did our jobs like the coach teaches us in practice," Morris said. "We know that if everybody does their job there's no way we can lose because we have no weak spots."
If Ripon can keep it up on both sides of the ball, all its upcoming opponents will be facing what the Crusaders failed to traverse.
It's a rocky road, and that's not a scoop.