BACK IN THE FOLD

Ripon Chris­tian foot­ball bol­sters coach­ing staff with re­turn of Fasani

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - By JAMES BURNS Bul­letin cor­re­spon­dent

RIPON — Ripon Chris­tian High foot­ball coach Trey Ozen­baugh didn’t use the final scrim­mage of the sum­mer to size up the com­pe­ti­tion among the small-school ranks.

He used the test at Escalon High to gauge his pro­gram’s off­sea­son growth and to an­swer one ques­tion: Can the reign­ing Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion fi­nal­ists make an­other run at the school’s first foot­ball ban­ner?

Ozen­baugh is op­ti­mistic, pleased with the de­vel­op­ment of his foot­ball team.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to eval­u­ate some of our tal­ent,” he said from be­hind a floppy sun cap and sun­glasses. “We have some holes to fill. Last year we grad­u­ated a lot of good foot­ball play­ers (from) a team that went to the sec­tion ti­tle game.” One va­cancy has al­ready been filled. For­mer head coach Randy Fasani has re­turned to Ripon Chris­tian as the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Fasani coached the Knights in 2013, guid­ing the team to a series of his­toric firsts: the pro-

gram’s only 10-win sea­son, a Di­vi­sion VI sec­tion final ap­pear­ance, and a 2,000-yard rusher in The Bul­letin’s for­mer All-Area MVP An­drew Brown. Ripon Chris­tian was edged by Brad­shaw Chris­tian in a shootout, 35-28.

“When I was here be­fore I ran the pro­gram as head coach and now I’m go­ing to be the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor,” Fasani said. “I’m ex­cited to be coach­ing with one of my best friends, Trey Ozen­baugh, who is the head coach.”

Af­ter the loss in the 2013 sec­tion final, Fasani, a fruit and nut tree sales­man in the Cen­tral Val­ley, moved with his fam­ily to Rock­lin to be closer to his home­town of Loomis, home to Del Oro, an 11-time sec­tion cham­pion.

Fasani said he vol­un­teered at Del Oro from time to time, but with so much of his work rooted in the south­ern half of the sec­tion, he de­cided to re­turn to Ripon.

With­out much of a com­mute, Fasani said he now has the time to re­turn to coach­ing. He also cred­ited the pull of a strong Chris­tian com­mu­nity and a best friend for pulling him back in.

“I’m pumped up to come back and coach high school foot­ball. I ac­tu­ally en­joy coach­ing more than I do play­ing,” said Fasani, a for­mer Stan­ford QB who was drafted by the Carolina Pan­thers in the fifth round of the NFL Draft in 2002. “I’m re­ally ex­cited to be the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the var­sity pro­gram at Ripon Chris­tian and help out as much as pos­si­ble.”

Fasani will have some weapons to play with.

Two-way tal­ent Sean McGovern an­chors the vet­eran corps. McGovern, a de­fen­sive back and wide re­ceiver, was named to the al­lSouth­ern League first team last fall. The team’s lead­ing rusher, Michael Kamps, also re­turns and should ben­e­fit from a strong of­fen­sive line.

“We’re go­ing to be strong up front,” said Ozen­baugh, who is 26-19 in four sea­sons. “We have an of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive line that will win some ball games for us. We know that’s where foot­ball games are won.”

Just how many will they win, though? Enough to un­seat three-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Ores­timba, which boasts a 21- game league win­ning streak? Enough to stave off Mari­posa and al­l­league quar­ter­back Colton Wei­d­ner?

As long as it stays healthy, Ripon Chris­tian should con­tend in the South­ern League. The Knights rank among the south­ern sec­tion’s most suc­cess­ful in the last decade. They’ve av­er­aged nearly eight wins a sea­son over the last six years and reached the Di­vi­sion VII final last fall. Ripon Chris­tian was thumped by Rio Vista, 56-28.

De­spite heavy grad­u­a­tion losses, Ozen­baugh is pleased with the way the pro­gram has re­plen­ished its ranks, be­gin­ning with the key ac­qui­si­tion in the head­set.

“I do like what I’ve seen,” Ozen­baugh said.

Photo by JAMES BURNS

ABOVE PHOTO: For­mer Ripon Chris­tian head foot­ball coach Randy Fasani, who has re­turned to take over as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, goes over a play with play­ers dur­ing a sum­mer prac­tice.

HIME ROMERO/Bul­letin file photo

BE­LOW PHOTO: Willem Hoek­stra (2), Gar­rett Bryan (55) and Do­minic Dar­retta (5) wrap up Rio Vista’s Dakota Mills in the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion Di­vi­sion VII cham­pi­onship game.

HIME ROMERO/ Bul­letin file photo

Ripon Chris­tian full­back Max Steele runs through the hole opened by Tris­tan De Shields (51) and Drew Van Vliet (52) dur­ing the Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion Di­vi­sion VII final against Rio Vista.

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