Ripon Christian, Ceres’ Central Valley hire new football coaches

jcortez@modbee.comApril 7, 2014 

Central Valley and Ripon Christian high schools have named new head football coaches for the 2014 season, both with ties to the Stanislaus District … and both with unfortunate timing.

The Hawks’ Scott Edwards and the Knights’ Trey Ozenbaugh are graduates of district schools and both take over just as two of the greatest running backs in district history are set to don caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies.

Central Valley loses Ja’Quan Gardner, who rushed for 2,467 and 27 touchdowns last season en route to becoming the district’s all-time career rushing leader (6,014). Ripon Christian graduates Andrew Brown, who set the single-season rushing (2,781) and touchdown records (55) for the district.

“I’m very familiar with Ja’Quan … we tried to get Ja’Quan to come out here,” said Edwards, the former head coach at Bret Harte who most recently was the offensive coordinator at the University of Mary (Bismark, N.D.) and had been recruiting Gardner. “But I’m definitely excited to be back in California. I’m going to have numbers and depth that I was never accustomed to. I see room for more growth and that’s a great thing.

Unlike Edwards, Ozenbaugh doesn’t have to move halfway across the country for his new position. As RC’s co-head coach on the junior varsity level the past seven seasons, he’ll need to move just a few yards away to the varsity field. Nevertheless, he’s just as excited.

“Valley football is something that’s very near and dear to my heart, and something I grew up playing,” said Ozenbaugh. “We’re losing quite a few touchdowns with Andrew Brown’s graduation, but (quarterback) Billy Marr is back, along with wide receivers Jonah Lewis and Ethan McMurray, and Jared Stuit, who’s our tight end; Will Kamps (20.5 sacks) is back on our offensive and defensive line.

Replacing Brown will be difficult, but that job will fall to senior-to-be Kevin Kramer and Brian Sytsma, a talented junior varsity performer.

Central Valley will not only have to replace Gardner, but also quarterback Kendel Johnson, a dual-threat who topped the 1,000-yard mark in rushing. Angelo Bermudez, a tough runner who averaged 8.3 yards on just 46 carries last season, should get a lot more during his senior campaign.

“I run a multiple, pro-style system,” said Edwards. “People would tell me at Bret Harte, ‘You’re running a whole new offense this year.’ No, I just had a new crop of talent and had to figure out the best way to utilize it.”

Ripon Christian will look similar to last season, as Ozenbaugh plans to utilize the offensive system that Randy Fasani, who is relocating to the Roseville area after coaching the Knights last season, intalled. But that doesn’t mean the Knights don’t want to be different.

“Our motto last year was ‘Be Different,’ ” said Ozenbaugh. “Be different in the community and be different on the football field. Having said that, we want to our players to compete with high level energy and passion.”

“Just because we’re a Christian school doesn’t mean we won’t be physical and knock you around.”

Bee staff writer Joe Cortez can be reached at jcortez@modbee.com or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeePreps.

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