High School Football

Ripon three-sport star will take reins at quarterback to lead football program

Ripon football coach Chris Musseman said players like Nico Ilardi don’t come around very often.

Ilardi, a senior, excels at three sports: basketball, football, and golf.

In 2018, Ilardi had five receiving touchdowns, averaged 7.5 points for the Trans-Valley League basketbal champions, and was named the league’s MVP for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Golf Champions.

“He is a natural leader and expects perfection,” Musseman, who also is the golf coach, said.

Ilardi, who played wide receiver and tight end last year, will be the Indians’ starting quarterback after Ryan Daggett graduated.

He backed up Daggett and had 69 passing yards.

Besides Ilardi, Ripon also returns senior tight end/outside linebacker Troy Brogan, senior athlete Danny Hernandez and senior linebacker Grant Wiebe. Musseman said this will be one of his smallest teams with only 18 juniors and seniors combined along with a couple underclassmen.

“Our offensive line was an issue and we have some big holes to fill and we have to stay healthy,” said Musselman, who is entering his fourth year. “ (Senior) Justin Hansen was one of our best players last year but he was hurt multiple times.”

Hansen played in five games and had 35 tackles.

If they are to advance to the playoffs for the fifth straight year, a likely opponent is Bear River, which beat the Indians in the last two Div. V semifinals.

“We would love to play them,” Musseman said. “We were a little out-coached but we felt like we had them (lost 27-14 in 2018 and 14-7 in 2017).”

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School: Ripon

Record: 10-2, 5-1 in Trans-Valley League

Players to Watch: Senior quarterback Nico Ilardi, senior running back/linebacker Brandon Rainer, senior tight end/outside linebacker Troy Brogan

Biggest Game: Sept. 27 at Hilmar

Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost to Bear River in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. V Semifinals 2017: Lost to Bear River in Div. V Semifinals 2016: Lost to Capital Christian in Div. V First Round 2015: Lost to Bear River in Div. V First Round 2014: None

Season Schedule:

Date

Opponent

Time

Aug.





23

Weston Ranch

7 p.m.

30

Sonora

7 p.m.

Sept.





6

at Central Valley

7 p.m.

13

at Calaveras

7 p.m.

20

at Hilmar

7 p.m.

27

at Riverbank

7 p.m.

Oct.





4

Livingston

7 p.m.

11

Bye Week



18

Escalon

7 p.m.

25

at Hughson

7 p.m.

Nov.





1

Modesto Christian

7 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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