The Smoke Signal

The Escalon Rivalry

Haley Meece, Journalist

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         For some, last Thursday night is just a score, 85-45 with the Ripon Varsity Boys basketball team reigning victorious. However, for those attending, they see it as so much more. Students decked-out in red and white filled the stands to the brim and were cheering for the team as the band played the tunes that the crowd has come to know and love. All the while, the boys on the court fought as hard as they possibly could against the school’s long-time rivals, Escalon.

    The rivalry has been prominent for quite a long time, packing students into both home and away games for any sport. Where does this rivalry originate? Why is it so important to the players and students?

    Mrs. Pendleton, who attends as many sporting events as possible and even graduated from Ripon High, spoke on the issue.

“I don’t know where the rivalry originated, but it was still present when I was a student. I looked even further and found out that the man who wrote the Ripon High Hymn wrote several songs for the school, and one of them even mentioned Escalon, so the rivalry goes back decades. It may be because it’s between two close, small towns, but that’s the only lead I have.” Pendleton stated.

I looked even further and found out that the man who wrote the Ripon High Hymn wrote several songs for the school, and one of them even mentioned Escalon, so the rivalry goes back decades.”

— Mrs. Pendleton

    Though the origins of the rivalry may be mysterious, the players know that the games are just like any other.

“We just approach these games just like all of the other ones. Throughout my years playing in these games, practices beforehand have had more focus and motivation than others, but they are very similar to normal practices,” senior Vincent Olmo said.

    While the pregame prep may be the same as normal, the players definitely feel the pressure of the rivalry.

“There’s a higher tension before the game. It’s like you can feel it in the air that this game has a bigger meaning than just winning,” Junior Nico Ilardi stated. The pressure showed on the court on Thursday night. Though there was a large gap in the score throughout most of the game, the Varsity team played their hardest until the very end, minimizing the amount of fouls called and exhibiting professional behavior despite tension.

Senior Philip Carlson and Juniors Nico Ilardi and Julian Sanchez represent both the band and the Varsity Basketball Team.

“The rivalry definitely makes game day have a different feel to it. You’re more amped up and have that little bit of extra motivation when playing Escalon. In the game you always come out super energized and you have to really focus in order to avoid making mental mistakes,” Olmo recounts.

    Spirit certainly wasn’t a problem for the student section during the game, only supporting the team’s efforts even more. Senior Maci Herrin was covered head to toe in red and led the crowd in Ripon High’s favorite cheers alongside the band, who even began to chant for their own members, such as Philip Carlson and Julian Sanchez, to be put in the game. The coaches listened, making the game that much more enjoyable for the players and students alike.

    The rivalry with Escalon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that may not be a bad thing if it produces results similar to those at Thursday’s game.

“With it being Escalon, it’s going to be a big game no matter what sport you’re playing. A sense of bragging rights hang over every game and it has to do with the pride of beating your biggest rival as well,” Ilardi expressed.

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