Fighting for the top spot

Mark Hinner (43) defends against a teammate in practice.

While the Red Hawk football team is consistently among the elite teams in the Midwest Conference each year, it hasn’t finished at the top since 2001.

Coach Ron Ernst hopes this is the year the title comes back to Ripon.

And with a plethora of experienced players returning, there’s no reason to believe that can’t be the case.

“We have the talent to go far and win the championship,” Ernst said.

Ripon only lost nine players to graduation and returns the core of its team this year, including a 17-member senior class.

The team was dealt a blow in the offseason when it found out that two-year starting quarterback Matt Miller would not be returning for his senior year due to a knee injury.

But, Ernst said, the position is in good hands with a former backup competing against two quality freshmen.

Senior Jake Marshall is considered to be the front-runner for the position, but freshmen Tom Sawyer and Taylor Rhode have been impressive in practice.

“When you lose a kid that’s a two-year starter, it’s a concern,” Ernst said. “But people may not have realized how good our backup was. I’m sad for Matt, but excited for Jake and the freshmen getting an opportunity.

“We won’t drop off a lot and we will be better in some areas [at that position].”

Read the full story in the Aug. 26, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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