Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bradshaw Takes SJS D-VI Football Title, 35-28

They almost let a Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI football title slip through their hands. However, the Bradshaw
Christian Pride was able to hang on in the end and defeat Ripon Christian, 35-28, Saturday at the Grape Bowl 
in Lodi.

The win was Bradshaw's fourth Section banner in the school's young history, its third in Division VI. 

Bradshaw Christian  - Div VI champs

In order to secure the win, the Pride had to corral the Section's top overall rusher, Michael Brown. The senior did score all four 

of the Knight's touchdowns and registered 147 yards on 27 carries. But that's about seventy yards under his per-game average. He finished the year with an incredible 49 TD's and more than 2800 yards rushing, counting his Saturday total.

But, it's Bradshaw that has the 2013 Section banner to hoist in its gym this fall.

Grant Dragmire had eight tackles to lead his team on defense. The game plan was to slow down Brown.

"We just rallied together as a team," Dragmire said. "We fed off each other's energy and found ways to stop (Brown)."

Dragmire also contributed to the Pride offensive attack with 111 yards rushing on 18 carries and a touchdown.

Dragmire's older brother, Brady, now a pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization, was the Pride's main running back when they won their first Section title in 2008. Now, both brothers have a Section championship patch to put on the letterman's jacket.

"Yeah, it was special and a real honor," Dragmire said. "We're going to take this one back to Elk Grove. Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us."

A hoarse Drew Rickert, Bradshaw Christian's head coach, was grinning ear-to-ear with the victory in hand, but he was just moments removed from filling the referees ears with complaints.

"Yeah, (Ripon Christian) had some momentum going and it took us getting a couple first downs to win it, which was nice," he said.

One of the questionable calls - one in which Rickert had to be restrained by his players from going after an official - came in the fourth quarter when the Pride defense stopped the Knights on a fourth-and-seven on the Ripon 35 yardline with a little more than seven minutes left in the game and Bradshaw leading, 35-21.  Brown was tackled three yards short of the first down. Bradshaw fans were celebrating then flags flew.

"They called helmet-to-helmet contact but the flag came way after the play was over, so I don't understand what happened, but that is what they called," Rickert explained."Then they called unsportsmanlike (conduct) on us because one of our kids was disputing the helmet-to-helmet. So, that's the way it goes."

While the crowd was pleading for an explanation (and got none) the ball was paced off thirty yards into Bradshaw territory and placed on the Pride 29 yardline. Three plays and a penalty later, Brown ran the ball over from the 11 yard line to narrow the score to 35-28, Bradshaw, with 4:04 remaining. 

On the Pride's first play from scrimmage following the ensueing kickoff, running back Jakoby Hawkins had the ball ripped from his hands and was recovered by Jake Schollenber at the Pride 44. However, the Bradshaw defense stopped the Knights in their tracks, getting the ball back on downs after Billy Marrs pass for Casey Kamper sailed over his head on a fourth-and six at the Pride 40 with 4:36 left in the game.

"This is two weeks in a row that our defense has played really well," Rickert said.

Behind bull-ish runs by Dragmire and Kyle Betts, the Pride were able to run out the clock on the Knights' 11 yardline and the celebration began.

No one was probably more relieved than Hawkins.

"It's unbelievable, there were a couple times in the game when we had our backs to the wall, but we came together as a family and pushed through it," Hawkins said.

The Pride offense scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions. Hawkins led all Pride rushers with 112 yards on 19 carries, including a 45-yard scoring sprint early in the third quarter. But, key to sustaining several of the drives were passes by quarterback Kevin Williams. He ended up with 103 yards of passing, completing six of 12 balls.

Bradshaw converted six of its 12 third-down situations, but got first downs three of the five fourth-downs.

The Pride finished the season 10-2, losing only to Division III Vista del Lago and to Capital Christian. Rickert said the season overall was very gratifying to him. 

"We struggled last year and had a ton of injuries," he said. "But, we worked hard and got along. Everything we did was positive and so we thought (this year), we'd be okay."

The excitement at the end of the game was perhaps close to that of Bradshaw's first Section championship back in 2008 - a game in which the Pride scored with seconds left in the game to take a 27-25 advantage over Vacaville Christian. But on the ensueing kickoff Vacaville Christian returned a squibb kick for an apparent game-winning touchdown, but an inadvertant whistle brought the ball back and the Pride's first Section title was preserved.

"I'm really happy for the kids to experience a Section championship, they are so excited to be out here," Rickert said. " We had a good week of practice, we got a little nervous here at the end, but we pushed through."

Now, it's take some time off for Rickert and most of these players - but not much.

"We'll get back in the weight room and get ready for baseball," he said.

The Pride are defending champs in that sport, too.


-Don't be surprised if the larger schools in the southern half of the Section try to modify the football playoff system, again. There are grumblings that their playoff teams are being eliminated in the first and second round of the playoffs by teams from the northern half of the Section, particularly in Divisions I and II. 

Some are reportedly wanting to return to a type of a bracket that insures a south school in all divisions play for a Section title against a representative from the northern half of the Section.

That's the way it was for many years until the current playoff system in football was instituted in 2009. 

-This year in Division I all semi-finalists were members of the Delta River League. Folsom will take on Oak Ridge, the DRL's first and second place team, respectively, will play for the D-I title Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.

Friday night, the Div-II championship game will be played. Kick off between Del Oro and Elk Grove will be at 7:30 p.m. 

The Division III and IV games will be played Saturday at Lincoln High School in Stockton, mainly because those games involve teams from the south Section. 

-Amazing that Sacramento High School is the second oldest high school west of the Mississippi yet, this year was the first time since the Section has been in existence that the Dragons won a playoff game in football. And, this fall they've won three post-season games, hoping for a fourth. They'll play against Manteca Saturday for the Div. III championship.

-St. Francis placed three runners among the top 20 to lead the team to a ninth-place finish overall Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.

“We knew our team would show up well prepared,” said assistant coach Mason Myers. “The girls had two weeks since our last race to mentally prepare. Lauren, Miranda and Madison all had huge PRs on this course. It was very exciting.”

St. Francis joined team winner Great Oak as the only two teams to place three runners among the top 25. Great Oak won the overall title with 76 points, followed by Davis (149), Trabucco Hills (154), Capistrano Valley (157) and Clovis North (188) in the top five. St. Francis was ninth overall with 221 points, recording their third straight top ten finish at the state championships.

Senior Lauren LaRocco led the team as she has done all season, placing sixth overall in 17:26 to earn medalist honors.

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