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Cardinal’s Ribar plays older than his age

August 11, 2013
By RYAN DENTSCHEFF - Tribune Chronicle correspondent ( , Underthelights

MIDDLEFIELD - Returning to football after a knee injury is difficult enough, but Pete Ribar is doing just that as a 16-year-old senior.

The Cardinal Huskies two-way captain playing running back and linebacker has experienced knee problems his entire life, but last offseason while stretching, Ribar's knee took a turn for the worse. The cartilage in his right knee was torn and required surgery, which sidelined the junior for all but the final two games of the season.

For most high school football players, injuring a knee in that fashion at age 15 would mean sitting out freshman year. Ribar, however, is not like most high school football players because he skipped the eighth grade and moved directly from seventh grade to high school at age 13. Jumping the grade has both positive and negative effects for the senior. On the positive side, Ribar is excelling in the classroom, regularly posting above-3.0 grade point averages. The disadvantage comes in the way of missing the opportunity to play an extra year of football.

"I'm sure eighth grade, being the bigger kid on the field and getting another year to learn the plays, (would have helped)," Ribar said. "Plus I was with a really great group. The juniors right now, who I'm playing with, are a great group of guys. I think if I would have ended up staying and never skipped a grade, I'd be a lot better player than I am right now."

"I try to not have regrets, but if there is one regret, that's probably one of the biggest ones I have right now."

That junior class will be relied upon heavily this season as the Huskies return only six seniors, including Ribar, and 13 juniors. There are 19 returning lettermen, most of whom are juniors, including four returning starters at the offensive line. This bodes well for Ribar as the Huskies are a run-heavy team. Last season, Cardinal rushed for 2,561 yards with its three leading carriers graduating in 2012. Ribar will be splitting time with a plethora of other running backs, but envisions himself being the go-to guy in the running game. He is a physical, north-south running back and expects to be a 1,000-2,000 yard rusher this season.

"I have so much confidence in the O-line right now, the quarterback, the whole team is really looking fantastic," he said.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ribar will be making the switch from defensive end to linebacker. If he is unable to win the second linebacker spot next to returning starter Clark Thurling in the 4-2-5 defensive set, he will play defensive end, where he played the last two seasons.

Ribar has only been playing linebacker for a few weeks, but he is confident in his ability to learn the linebacker position in time for the season.

"On defense, it's a lot more instinct," Ribar said. "Most linebackers develop that instinct (over time) and I'm not quite there yet, but I'm pretty confident that I can get there."

Turning 17 in October, Ribar may be a young senior, but he has taken on the leadership role as if he was an aged veteran and is poised to help the team in any way possible.

"It's pretty rough (being such a young senior), but I try my best. It's my last year and I don't want to let (anyone) down," he said.

"I've worked really hard to contribute what I can to the team."


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