High School Football

Ripon Christian football coach stresses ‘we’ approach in search of continued success

Ripon Christian receiver Sean McGovern reaches out to make a catch over a Hilmar defender during the Division VI CIF Sac-Joaquin championship game between Ripon Christian and Hilmar at Turlock High School in Turlock CA on November 30, 2018.
Ripon Christian receiver Sean McGovern reaches out to make a catch over a Hilmar defender during the Division VI CIF Sac-Joaquin championship game between Ripon Christian and Hilmar at Turlock High School in Turlock CA on November 30, 2018. jwestberg@modbee.com

One of the reasons Ripon Christian played in the last two CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championship games was because the players were working as a team and not focusing on individual stats, coach Randy Fasani said.

“From the first day of practice, we, as a football staff, tell the players we can’t stand individualism,” Fasani said. “We are going to play as a team and not give our attention to ourselves, but to our teammates.”

Fasani is in second stint as head coach (coached RC in 2013) and first year after taking over for Trey Ozenbaugh, who resigned in late December.

“We approach every game expecting to win, not hoping to win,” Fasani, who was the Knights’ offensive coordinator last year, said.

After losing to Hilmar in the Div. VI title game in 2018 and Rio Vista in the Div. VII championship the year before, Ripon Christian returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

Seniors Nolan Lingley and Jacob Van Groningen will battle for the starting quarterback spot and senior wide receiver Sean McGovern is expected to have a bigger season after eight touchdowns in 2018.

McGovern, who also had 107 tackles, will replace Michael Kamps, the Bee’s Small School Player of the Year, who graduated.

Junior Cole Gemmell also will contribute and Fasani said the 5-foot-10 athlete had an outstanding offseason in the weight room.

Fasani said junior wide receiver Jake Grondz is “explosive” and could have a breakout season.

On defense, senior linemen Wyatt Van Vliet (113 tackles , 13 tackles for a loss) and Garrett Bryan (77 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss) both return and the Knights added senior Seth Gallo, a Modesto Christian transfer.

Fasani said the school wants to continue to develop a program that is respected in the area and one way to do that is play bigger schools in the non-conference season.

“We tried to schedule against East Union, Livingston, Ripon, and Sierra but it was unsuccessful,” Fasani said.

Ripon Christian did find a local school and will host Div. IV Davis in Week 1.

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School: Ripon Christian

Record: 12-1, 7-0 in Southern League

Players to Watch: Senior wide receiver Sean McGovern (32 receptions, 560 yards, 8 TDs), Senior defensive lineman Wyatt Van Vliet (113 tackles , 13 tackles for a loss), Senior defensive lineman Garrett Bryan (77 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss)

Biggest Game: Oct. 4 at Orestimba

Something special about school: Field is open at halftime for kids to come onto and play.

Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost to Hilmar in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Championship 2017: Lost to Rio Vista in Div. VII Championship 2016: None 2015: Lost to Hilmar in Div. VI Semifinals 2014: Lost to Capital Christian in Div. VI Semifinals

Season Schedule:

DateOpponentTime
Aug.



23Davis7:30 p.m.
30at Stone Ridge Christian7 p.m.
Sept.



6Summerville7:30 p.m.
13Bye Week

20at Waterford7:15 p.m.
27Denair7:15 p.m.
Oct.



4at Orestimba7:30 p.m.
11Gustine7:30 p.m.
18at Mariposa County7:15 p.m.
25Le Grand7:30 p.m.
Nov.



1at Delhi7:30 p.m.
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Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.
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