The picture of the 2010 Bracken Christian School Warriors football team will hang in the halls and be remembered as the first football state championship for the young program. It all started, however, in 2006 with a 1-9 record before vastly improving the next year under Russ Wilson and becoming district champs led by quarterback Marty Cruz. Then the experienced Coach Lloyd Fields came in 2008 and has taken the program to another level. That year they won district again with a senior-laden team led by R.J. Braune, Tye Sanders, Jake McCrum and Gabe Cruz. Deemed to be a year of transition, a young team in 2009 surprised everyone making it to the semi finals.
Flash back to this year. After the semi-final run in ’09, expectations ran high for a team that was returning almost every player from the year before. The season started with two wins in Austin over Hill Country and Summit, respectively. Bracken started to roll after that, 45-ing (the six man mercy rule) seven teams in a row. Kerrville- Our Lady of the Hills, the Warriors’ rival over the last couple years, came next. This game would be by far their closest of the regular season with Bracken making a couple big plays late to win it 71-62 and wrap up the district title.
As the playoffs got underway around the state, a blowout of Bryan Allen Academy for Bracken in the bi-district (round of 16) set up a familiar playoff matchup for Warriors, with Rockwall Christian. The game was ugly and literally had dozens of penalties including multiple touchdowns being called back. Bracken controlled most of the game and finally closed out a team that had haunted them in years past. The semi-final was a rematch of the epic game in Kerrville a few weeks prior; Bracken vs. OLH with a spot in the championship game on the line. OLH spreadback, Marshall Walker went off and led OLH to a 70-56 lead with 2:57 left in the game. Senior Joe Lonigro scored to trim the lead. Then after the first three and out of the game for OLH, Bracken got the ball back with a chance to send it to overtime. And they did, with a touchdown by sophomore Eli Achilles. Once the overtime started (college rules) Bracken scored first and missed the extra point, leaving the door open for OLH. The door was quickly slammed shut when OLH fumbled on the first play and Bracken recovered to go to their first state championship game, 76-70.
The game was more of a coronation for Bracken, who cruised after getting down early. Dallas Covenant Christian was the opponent and they really couldn’t stop Bracken from scoring virtually whenever they wanted. Junior Grady Achilles, named MVP of the game, finished the campaign with unreal season stats, 3,096 rushing yards and 68 touchdowns. His younger brother, Eli Achilles, led the defense (207 tackles) all year and also showed that he can be a great quarterback. The seniors, Grant Granato, Joe Lonigro, Stephen Burbank, Kelley Gutierrez, and Jeremy Johnson all played vital roles with Granato and Lonigro playing both ways all season. The fan following for this team, given how small the school is, has been great all season and they have been rewarded with a 14-0 record and a state championship. Not too shabby for a program in its fifth year.
Written By: Adam Johnson Photo By: Harry Boyd
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