LE GRAND -- Growing up, Daniel Guizar had big dreams. Most athletes do.
However, a chance to play for a state championship seemed too big, especially growing up in a small town like Le Grand.
Guizar and his teammates got their shot this season. The Southern League MVP helped the Bulldogs win a second straight Sac-Joaquin Section championship and a date with Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth in the CIF Division 4 State Bowl.
Le Grand fell short in Carson -- the site of the state championships -- but after rushing for 1,975 yards and 35 touchdowns, Guizar is the Sun-Star Offensive Football Player of the Year.
"We all watched 'Friday Night Lights' and I think we all imagined in the back of our minds what it would be like to make it to state," Guizar said. "I don't think we ever thought we'd get the chance. For us, it was always 'Let's win league' or even 'Let's win section.' Nobody ever thought we'd play for a state title. We did it.
"We lost, but it's still dreamlike."
Guizar rarely saw the sideline during games this year as he doubled as an outside linebacker.
"We're going to miss the whole package he brings to the table," Le Grand coach Rick Martinez said. "He always had a good work ethic, but he raised the work ethic of everybody around him. If he felt he wasn't getting a good luck from our challenge team in practice, he wasn't afraid to get on those guys about it."
Guizar ranked ninth in the state in rushing scores with 35. His 10.23 average yards per rush was 10th best in the state.
He had two five-touchdown games against Delhi and Mariposa, respectively, and posted three 200-yard games.
Not bad for a converted fullback. The senior made the switch to tailback this year following the graduation of Bob Perez.
"I was hungry. I worked hard to better myself, but my offensive line deserves all the credit," Guizar said. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have had the success I had. They did the hard part. All I did was run the ball. It's a lot harder moving big guys around."
Guizar can't bring himself to watch the entire state championship game on TV.
Trailing 14-13 at half, the Bulldogs were right in the game. However, turnovers helped Sierra Canyon pull away for a 34-13 win.
"I watch the first half, that's it," Guizar said. "If I watch the second half I'll get mad. They replayed the game on Christmas Eve and my family was all together. They turned it on. I watched the first half, but I went and did something else when the second half came on."
Still, Guizar will look back at the whole experience fondly. He got to make the journey with his lifelong friends.
"We lost our last game but we went out with a bang," Guizar said. "We started 12-0 and won the section title. Even last year, that was the first time our school has won the section title in 100 years. Even though we lost at state, we did the best we could."