If the last two years are any indication, the Ripon College football team’s success may be decided by how they fare in close games.

After going 4-2 in games decided by 10 points or less in 2015 en route to a 7-3 record, the Red Hawks posted an 0-4 mark in similar games last year to finish 3-7.

They know this season’s fate likely hinges on those contests.

“The difference between a really great team and not being a great team is you’ve got to win those close ones,” Ripon head coach Ron Ernst said. “So we’ve got to find a way to win those games down the stretch.”

If the Red Hawks hope to make that happen, they will have to rely on a mix of experience and youth.

They return a number of players in key positions, but also welcome several new faces to other areas.

“We have some really good, experienced kids in some positions,” Ernst said. “Some kids will be returning as second- or third-year starters and that’s a real positive. On the other side of that, we have some real inexperience in some positions, but yet I think the quality of those kids is going to be very good.”

Ripon will be solid at fullback and slot back as it returns nearly all of its top producers from last season.

Read the full story, which includes information about the Red Hawks schedule and a new opponent, in the Aug. 31, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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