Luke Rippee Northern 4A Offensive Player of Year |

Luke Rippee Northern 4A Offensive Player of Year

Stopping Luke Rippee was a major concern among Northern 4A football coaches this fall.

Rippee was a threat as a passer and runner, and a key factor for the Tigers during their 7-3 season. The point was well taken when Northern 4A coaches voted Rippee as first-team quarterback on the All-Sierra League and All-Northern 4A Region teams.

The junior was also named Sierra League Offensive Player of the Year and shared the Northern 4A Offensive Player of the Year award with Zach Borba, quarterback of the state champion McQueen Lancers.

Sure, the honors were nice. So was respect shown by opposing coaches. Rippee still said all of this is the result of a team effort.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but without my team, I wouldn’t have gotten it,” the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Rippee said. “You’ve got to have good players surrounding you. It’s my name, but it’s more like a team. I’m thanking them for playing around me and helping me. Teams just couldn’t key on me. They could key on Evan (Bill), or the receivers, and that opened other things up.”

Rippee, a first-team all-league quarterback as a sophomore in 2001, put up some noteworthy numbers this season. He was 84-for-162 for 1,258 yards (51.8 percent) in the passing department, good for 14 TDs and he was intercepted just six times. He also scored seven rushing touchdowns.

Rippee was also named first-team all-league on defense for his play at free safety. He was credited with 43 solo tackles, 31 assists and two interceptions.

Senior Grant Hall was honored as a first-team all-region defensive tackle. Hall was named as the Sierra League’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Rippee was also used as a punt returner, so there weren’t many times when he came off the field.

“I’m real proud of him,” coach Mike Rippee said of his son. “Any time that you have your son or any relative playing for you, you’ve got to be careful, but I think that he stepped in and was mentally prepared. I thought he had a real fine year.

“The best thing I can say about Luke is that he is such a competitor. A lot of times he made plays when it didn’t look like we were going to be able to make them, and then he would find the open receiver and get the first down, or scramble out of a tough situation and throw a touchdown pass. I think that was key. I think that teams coming in to play us knew they could never relax because he was going to make a play. That’s a real big strength of his.”

Carson coach Shane Quilling echoed that before the rival Senators and Tigers met in the final game of the regular season on Nov. 1.

“They can do a lot of things on offense especially with a quarterback like Rippee,” Quilling said. “He’s athletic and he can make things happen. I think he’s most dangerous when he’s scrambling. He’s like Fran Tarkenton (Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback) in that he finds a way to make big things happen. He scrambles around, finds somebody open and gets them the ball. That’s going to be one of our big keys, to contain him and not let him run around and hurt us.”

The Tigers certainly had other weapons. Senior running back Evan Bill rushed for 1,077 yards and nine touchdowns. Wide receiver Andy McIntosh caught 37 balls for 708 yards (20.8-yard average) and six TDs. Craig Bell also had 20 receptions for 357 yards.

And, if opposing defenses paid too much attention to the wideouts, tight ends Stormy Herald and Nick Summers had numerous key receptions during the season.

McIntosh, a first-team all-region selection, had some big performances during the season. The junior caught nine balls for 151 yards and two TDs in a 33-24 loss to Reno in a showdown for the league championship. He also caught 90 and 54-yard touchdown passes, both on middle screens from Rippee, in a 13-6 win against North Valleys.

“Andy always seemed to be in the right place at the right time,” coach Rippee said of McIntosh. “And not only does he have great hands, it’s what he does after he caught the ball. I think the two middle screens we ran against North Valleys were two of the finest plays and runs I’ve been associated with. I mean, he just willed himself into the end zone. Those were critical. We scored twice, and it was him both times.”

All in all, despite a heart breaking 7-6 loss at home to Galena in the first round of the playoffs, this was a successful season for the Tigers.

“We were 7-3 and that was nice,” Rippee said. “I wish we would have gone a little farther in the playoffs, but I don’t know if anyone was going to get by McQueen. You saw them in the state game. I mean, they just demolished the competition.

“So hopefully, next year is our year and hopefully we can work hard and everyone can come out and play strong and we can do the same thing next year.”

The Tigers have high aspirations for their 2003 season, according to the elder Rippee.

“If we work hard, I think we can play well next year,” he said. “It should be exciting. We’ve got a lot of guys who didn’t play much this year that are probably going to play and we have some JVs coming up, so I think we’ll be all right.”