RIPON — There's a sense of history gathering around the Ripon High football team.
Each week, including following Friday night's 42-7 romp over Hilmar, they assemble immediately following the final gun to sing the school hymn -- an old practice the team hasn't embraced in years.
There's a line in that song that goes "Forever and ever, within our hearts we'll hold the Mission's traditions of old."
Indians quarterback Kyle Wengel admitted to not having any idea to what "the Mission's traditions" refers.
For all intents, it could mean a mission to shatter all Trans-Valley League tradition by having a Ripon High team complete a perfect regular season.
Actually, it's a reference to the 102-year-old school's first major building, torn down in the mid-1960s, that resembled a California Mission. And it's been about that long since the school has had a team embark on any kind of campaign to match this one.
The Indians improved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the TVL with games at home against Riverbank and at Orestimba to finish the season. If current projections hold, two more wins would make them the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs.
"We can't get comfortable," Wengel said. "Riverbank's going to come at us next week and then we have to stop Orestimba's running back. We have to keep doing what we're doing."
Ripon didn't achieve any level of comfort against Hilmar (6-2, 2-2) until the final moments of the first half.
Michael Ysit returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a Ripon score, but the Yellowjackets dominated the rest of the first quarter, pounding the middle for 111 rushing yards to set up Breck Smith's game-tying 3-yard run on the second play of the second quarter.
The rest of the game belonged to Ripon, which scored the final 35 points to beat the Yellow Jackets for the first time in at least 10 years. That's how long Frank Marques has been Hilmar's head coach, and it's the first time he's been on the losing end of a score against the Indians.
"It's Ripon's turn and I wish them great luck in their run to the section," Marques said.
"They're well balanced, and you have to have that to be a really good team. We had a good gameplan, but they wore us out. It was the kind of game where you just have to tip your hat to your opponent."
The Indians began to crowd the line of scrimmage to turn Hilmar's 8-yard runs into 2-yard gains, and dared the Jackets to pass. It never happened, and Hilmar completed two of 11 passes for 6 yards.
Hilmar did stop Ripon's running game, holding the Indians to 69 rushing yards.