There are three things certain in life. Death, taxes, and the Bradshaw Christian Pride varsity football team running the football with immense success.
A dominant ground game has always been the hallmark of Bradshaw Christian and their head coach Drew Rickert, and his team did nothing to change that narrative after a convincing 42-13 victory over visiting Los Banos at Bradshaw Christian High School Nov. 15, in their CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division V quarterfinal playoff matchup.
A quick start by No. 12 seed Los Banos resulted in a 13-7 Tigers lead after the first quarter as Los Banos senior quarterback Colby Copp connected on two touchdown strikes to senior wideout Landon Ramos for 36 and 51 yards, respectively. Pride tailback Nate Grant scored from 22 yards out to keep number four seed Bradshaw Christian within striking distance, which is all they needed. From there, the Pride played with the spirit of their namesake, scoring 35 unanswered points and shutting out the Tigers the rest of the way defensively en route to the crucial postseason win.
Bradshaw Christian (9-2 overall) relied heavily on their ground game, amassing over 400 yards total via their vaunted rushing attack. Leading the way for the Pride was Grant, who tallied 11 carries for 160 yards and two scores. But has been the case all year long, he wasn’t alone in producing big numbers on the ground. Senior tailbacks Jeremiah Bonner-Hayes and Evan Zeppieri provided matching stat lines as each accounted for 16 carries, 106 yards, and one touchdown apiece.
“We have a bunch of kids who work their tails off,” Rickert said of his stable of running backs. “They lift weights, they do what they’re supposed to, and they buy into what we do. They like it, they like to do this. They don’t care about the glamour. They love doing this and are really effective.”
Additionally for Bradshaw Christian, senior quarterback David Carr finished 2-of-4 passing for 37 yards and one touchdown. He also provided a five-yard rushing score in the third quarter on a QB sneak to create separation on the scoreboard.
It wasn’t just the offense that produced some eye-popping stats, however. With two fourth down stops and snagging three interceptions, Bradshaw Christian played suffocating defense after the slow start. Perhaps most impressive was the play of junior defensive back Jaylen Patterson, who stepped in to start at free safety in this game after an illness spread through members of the team during the week. Patterson, widely regarded as one of the best basketball players on campus, showed great rebounding ability as he accounted for two interceptions in the contest.
“It felt good,” Patterson said. “It felt good to play alongside my brothers. Our goal is to win Section. My brothers lined up next to me, God helped me, and helped us get the win.”
Senior defensive end Dakari Bell also sparked the Pride defense as he recorded one sack.
For Los Banos, Copp finished 10-of-22 passing for 144 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His favorite target, Ramos, accounted for eight receptions and 140 yards, to go along with the two receiving touchdowns. Entering the contest, Tigers’ senior tailback Justin Incaprera had rushed for 1,620 yards on the season, and saw much of the same production against Bradshaw Christian as he piled on 15 carries for 127 yards.
Next on the docket for the Pride is a match up at number one seed Center this Friday, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Rickert was certainly happy about the victory over Los Banos, but was already thinking ahead to his teams’ upcoming semifinal match up following the game.
“They’re a great football team,” Rickert said. “They’re the number one seed for a reason. They’re legit and the class of our division. They bring speed and athleticism to the table and are well coached. You put that all together and it’ll be tough to stop.”