By: The Review | Towanda Daily Review | December 23, 2011
After losing all-state player Cody Miller to graduation after last season, the Towanda Black Knights knew they were going to need some new people to step up this year.
That's exactly what Zack Ripic did in leading Towanda to the NTL title.
Now, Ripic is earning the honors that come with a big year.
After earning first-team NTL all-star honors on offense and defense for his work not only as a receiver and in the secondary, but also while excelling in special teams, Ripic has earned all-state honors as a defensive specialist.
This year the all-state team is not broken into first, second and third teams. Instead, there is just one Associated Press all-state team and Ripic was one of two defensive specialists on the squad and one of five District 4 players chosen.
"It's kind of cool actually," Ripic said. "I didn't know how I did compared to the rest of the guys in the state this year, but it's kind of nice."
The Black Knights have had a strong run of players making all-state in recent years and coach Craig Dawsey is happy to see that continue.
"It's just a great honor," Dawsey said. "It's not just an honor for Zack, it's a great team honor. We have been fortunate to have a lot of guys on the state team for a lot of time now. I'm glad for him to be nominated and to make the team."
Ripic was pretty surprised to be chosen among the best in the state.
"There's a lot of other guys in the state that are really good," he said. "There are a lot of teams that went further, just a lot of good athletes. I didn't think I had a great chance of making it."
Dawsey knows the success the Black Knights have had in recent years is a big part of the reason they are getting this kind of recognition.
"You very seldom get on these type of teams without having winning programs," he said. "It's icing on the cake to have one of the players get this great honor.
"He (Zack) did a great job all year long for us. We are really going to miss all the seniors next year. Zack is one of those seniors that went above and beyond what the expectations were."
For Dawsey seeing the honor come on the defensive side of the ball made it more special.
"It's great, we just had a great defensive team this year," he said. "It was predicated basically on speed. The kids did a great job all year long on that side of the ball. It speaks volumes for our defense and really it speaks volumes for (defensive coordinator) Jamie Wecker. He is very passionate about setting up a good defense."
Dawsey hopes this honor will be something that will inspire the younger players.
"I just hope they follow his lead and how he progressed and got better and just worked harder and harder and harder," Dawsey said. "He is just a very good athlete."
For Ripic it's just nice having his name linked to the school's other all-state players.
"It's a great feeling actually," he said. "Guys last year like (Cody) Miller and players before like (Jake) Lamphere and (R.J.) Baker, I think. It's kind of cool to be in that group of Towanda football players that have made all-state. It's kind of cool to be in the same name as them."
Other District 4 players who earned all-state honors were Bloomsburg quarterback Blake Rankin, Mt. Carmel linebacker Cody Shustack and Lewisburg linebacker Brandon Smith, along with Mt. Carmel defensive lineman Eric Joraskie.