November 26, 2011
Bradshaw Christian runs away with D-VI football title

With the cameras clicking, Ian Fowler kept hamming it up and flashing a mile-long smile.

Moments before, he and his Bradshaw Christian teammates had demolished Foresthill 62-6 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship game Saturday afternoon in Lodi.

In the postgame celebration, Fowler puckered up and plastered his lips several times on the team's newly acquired section championship banner.

It was nice way for the senior captain and 5-foot-10, 280-pound tackle to cap his impressive career as the Pride's highly effective human bulldozer. He played in his fourth section championship game and third in which the small South Sacramento private school came out with a victory.

But this may have been the most unexpected.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, one season after arguably the school's most talented and senior-driven team lost to Brookside Christian of Stockton 28-6 in a seven-turnover, section-championship debacle on the very same Grape Bowl field.

That loss dashed Bradshaw Christian's strong state bowl game hopes. Brookside Christian went instead.

"We felt we didn't do as well as we should have, so that loss drove us, as did (the fact) that a lot of people thought we weren't going to be as good a team," Fowler said.

Against Foresthill (10-2), making its first section championship appearance, Bradshaw Christian (11-1) showed why the six-year-old program has produced 43 victories (against six losses) during the past four seasons.

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Williams attempted only one pass - an early second-quarter incompletion - and the Pride rushed for 619 yards, even though reserves played the fourth quarter and there was a running clock in the final 12 minutes.

Taylor Blackford, L.J. Upshire, Louis Correia and Williams finished with 100 rushing yards or better from out of the Pride's wing-T. Blackford had 183 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, and Upshire, one week after a 421-yard, seven-touchdown effort in a semifinal victory against Ripon Christian, added 171 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries.

Bradshaw Christian was almost as dominating on defense, limiting the Wildfires to 34 rushing yards, although Foresthill's gutsy quarterback, Tom Sawyer, passed for 151 yards despite taking a physical pounding. He threw a 59-yard scoring strike to Ian Sykes to cut the Pride's lead to 28-6.

Bradshaw Christian did not commit a turnover - but neither did Foresthill.

"The kids played well - our O-line and D-line dominated," said Bradshaw Christian coach Drew Rickert, who has three football section title banners and two in baseball.

"People say they know what we are going to do, but with our line and having three good backs in L.J., Louis Correia and Taylor Blackford who are unselfish and don't care who gets the yards, we're pretty tough to stop."

The one team that stopped Bradshaw Christian might have cost it a chance to play in this season's CIF state small school bowl game. The Pride lost to Division IV power Colfax 54-14 in the Smackdown at Sactown on Sept. 2 at Grant High School.

Unbeaten Le Grand, which defeated Highlands 58-20 in Saturday night's D-V section title game, is expected to be the section's nominee to play in the state small school bowl game.

"Colfax is a great team, and we may have been a little awestruck of them," Rickert said. "But we learned a lot about ourselves from that game, and it made us a better football team. I'd rather get better and lose than be 12-0 and not play anyone."

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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