Rippee named top 4A player in the region again |

Rippee named top 4A player in the region again

by Darrell Moody, Sports Editor

When you talk about Luke Rippee, words like winner, unselfish, great work ethic, playmaker and tremendous desire to win crop up.

It’s those traits that have made him arguably one of the best football players in Nevada history, and why he was named Northern Nevada’s 4A Player of the Year for the second straight season.

“It’s exciting, because there are a lot of good players in the league,” said Rippee, who passed for a school-record 1,698 yards and 17 touchdowns and contributed a third-best 72 tackles from his safety slot. “There’s (Mitchell) Moore from Hug, Dusty (Cooper) from our team, Reno had some good players and (Grant) Swinney from Lake Tahoe.

“It’s neat that I got it. Without my teammates I couldn’t have accomplished this. Without Dusty, Nolan (Brockhage) and Andy (McIntosh) and all the others. Dusty is a big reason. Teams just couldn’t key on me. That opened things up in the air for us. It’s nice to know that the coaches (in the area) think so highly of me.”

Rippee squirms in his seat a bit. He’s not comfortable talking about himself. He’s so busy talking to relatives after home games, it’s tough to even get a minute of his time for post-game comments.

“I’m happy with what I did (at Douglas). I don’t want to come off like I was the best. I thought I did well.

“I put in a lot of time in the weight room and spent a lot of time on the field. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it (playing football).”

And, McIntosh can attest to Rippee’s work ethic. The duo spent many a summer day sweating in the weight room, and both have washboard stomachs to prove it.

“He’s always worked hard,” McIntosh said. “He always pushes everybody else.”

A humble winner

However, Rippee readily admits he would give up all the individual honors in an instant for the state championship, or at least the chance to play for it. A state title was the only thing he wasn’t able to accomplish in his three-year varsity career, which saw him produce 22 victories.

Rippee isn’t just blowing smoke. Humble could be his middle name. The Douglas standout always is heaping praise on his teammates.

“He doesn’t call attention to himself,” Douglas assistant coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “He doesn’t like the media to focus on him. That sets him apart from a lot of kids. He wants it to be all about the team. He’s a reflection of the team. That’s what has made us successful.”

In the waning moments of a big win over Wooster late in the season, Luke lobbied his dad to not only get seldom-used Josh Newman in the game, but that he wanted a pass thrown to him.

“He’d been lobbying for that most of the season,” coach Rippee said. “He’s always making sure guys get into the games.”

The elder Rippee said that Luke gets his unselfishness from his mom, Bonnie.

“To be a coach’s wife, and then have your son play…,” coach Rippee said. “She’s made this real easy for Luke. She kept us both in line.”

“I get it from both of my parents,” he said. “They are both caring people. My dad is a very humble. I never had a brother, and these guys (on the team) are like brothers to me.”

Playing for dad

Playing for your dad isn’t the easiest task in the world, yet both father and son admit that the problems rarely come home.

“There are a lot of naysayers that say Luke is where he’s at because I’m his dad,” Mike Rippee said. “I think he’s proven himself.

“He’s a lot like me. He’ll have his say and walk away. We’ve butted heads a few times as he’s gotten older, but nothing serious. He’s respectful of coaches. Ernie and Bob (Bateman), his position coaches, have done a great job working with him. We might have had a few more conflicts if I’d coached him directly.”

And, Rippee certainly doesn’t cut his son any slack, on or off the field.

“He (Coach Rippee) is as tough if not tougher on Luke,” McIntosh said. “He knows what Luke can do. Coach is the first person to tell him what he can do to get better.”

Said Luke, “It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been too hard. He’s the boss and that’s how it is. He treats me like any other player. If he wasn’t the coach here, I don’t know if I’d love football as much as I do.”

Off to college

Rippee certainly deserves a chance to play at the next level, but his size (5-11, 170), may keep some college recruiters away.

And, Rippee admits he takes a little umbrage when people tell him he’s too small to play college football.

“Yeah it does,” he said. “So much emphasis today is on height and weight. Speed and strength are big parts (of recruiting), too. People tend to overlook good football players. Football isn’t track. I’ve worked hard, and I really love the game. I believe I’m a good football player. I think that gets overlooked. If you can play, that’s all that should matter.”

Rippee is quick to point out the success that Tim Gilligan of Elko has enjoyed at Boise State, and Gilligan is about the same size as Rippee. Gilligan walked on at Boise State, and now starts for the 17th-ranked Broncos.

“Gilligan showed that Nevada athletes can play even if you haven’t heard of them before,” Rippee told last summer. “You see players you’ve liked and what they’ve done, and that’s the example you want to follow. I’m realistic but I want to play football somewhere, maybe on the Division I-AA or Division II level.”

Monfiletto, who has tutored Rippee the last three years, said colleges would be making a mistake to pass on Rippee.

“A lot of things make him unique,” Monfiletto said. “The intangibles; things you can’t put a finger on. He’s a playmaker. I think Luke can compete at the next level, and I think he can be productive. It’s up to college coaches to give him an opportunity to do so.

“Luke has always had a good understanding of the game. He’s always been willing to grow. He has a commitment to being better. I think he really studies the game. I’m going to miss his friendship. When he was 9, we would talk football, and he used to talk about playing for me.”

Mike Rippee played one year for Chris Ault at University of Nevada, and he says his son would love to play for the Wolf Pack. However, he doesn’t believe there is any pressure for Ault to recruit his son just because he was a two-time Player of the Year.

“If I had a chance to play at Nevada, it would probably be on defense; maybe strong safety,” the Douglas standout said. “I think I could cover a tight end. If I went smaller than UNR, maybe free safety or corner. If I go really small, maybe quarterback.”

So far, St. Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., University of San Diego and Minot State, an NAIA school in North Dakota have expressed interest in Douglas’ two-way star. Coach Rippee said he’s in the process of sending film to other schools.

Versatility is huge

One thing colleges should look at is Rippee’s athleticism. He plays three sports, and when he graduates this June, he will have earned 10 varsity letters. That’s impressive, especially when you consider he carries a 3.7 grade point average, too.

It means no time off during the school year, and during the summer he alternates between lifting weights, shooting baskets and hitting baseballs.

Has he ever thought that maybe it was too much? Playing three sports means no time off during the school year, and during the summer he alternates between lifting weights, shooting baskets and hitting baseballs.

“It crossed my mind,” he said. “Three sports isn’t very easy to do. When you’re not playing a sport, you have a lot of spare time on your hands. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always likle to be doing something; being part of a team. This is the last year I’ll be able to play three. I want to work and finish the year strong.”

His dad at times thought Luke might be biting off more than he could chew, but he doesn’t believe in specialization. In fact, he encourages all his football players to particpate in other sports because he thinks it will help them.

“I did worry (at times),” coach Rippee said. “When he was little he played all those sports. You only go through high school once. You better love and enjoy what you do. I’ve never had to push him.”