One week after opening the 2003 season against perennial Trans-Valley League heavyweight Escalon, the Summerville High School football team will get to tango with one of the TVL's up-and-comers in Ripon tomorrow night.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Ripon's Stouffer Field.

And although the Indians are not as highly regarded as Escalon, the No. 2-ranked team in the state, they could prove to be an even more difficult dance partner.

There's no denying Escalon's grind-'em-up-and-spit-'em-out offense was too much for Summerville's defense to handle in beating the Bears 35-15 last Friday at Thorsted Field in Tuolumne. But the Cougars were essentially a one-dimensional offense, rushing for 438 yards while passing for just two.

Ripon, on the other hand, can attack by air or by land as it did in beating highly regarded Linden 35-6 on the road in Week 1.

Led by running back Ryan Machado (nine carries, 155 yards, three touchdowns) and quarterback Danny Price (two touchdown passes), the Indians were the epitome of a well-balanced offense, gaining 244 yards on the ground and 142 via the passing game.

"(Ripon) is probably not as strong overall as Escalon," Summerville head coach Darcy Wingo said, "but in many respects, they could be just as difficult or more so because they've got so many weapons."

With all those weapons in mind, the Bears have switched things up a bit on the defensive side of the ball to improve their pass rush.

First and foremost, Jake Harper, who started at linebacker in Week 1 after earning all-Mother Lode League honors as a defensive lineman in 2002, will be back at defensive tackle along with Nick Brescia in an effort to "get more beef up front," defensive coordinator Marlin Heldstab said.

With Harper and Brescia on the defensive line, Week 1 nose guard Chris Buck will drop back to linebacker with David Tarantino possibly taking Buck's place at nose.

"Since we've got so many people (playing) both ways, we've got to find a way to move people around and do a better job of resting people here and there," Wingo said.

While the Bears will be trying to stop the Ripon passing game, they'll have to find a way to kick-start their own rushing attack after gaining minus-one yard in 21 carries against Escalon.

The Union Democrat
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