LODI — Ryan Martinez saw the Le Grand offensive line posing for a group photo and quickly decided he had to be part of it.
The Le Grand running back needed to grab just one thing.
Martinez ran through the large crowd of people gathered on the turf and soon emerged with the blue section banner.
Martinez and his buddies posed for photos with their prize.
Years from now, when Martinez reflects on Saturday night, all he has to do is look at the photo with his offensive line to remember why the Bulldogs won their third straight section title.
With his big guys up front leading the way, Martinez carried the ball 39 times for 238 yards and a touchdown as Le Grand defeated Waterford 30-12 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 championship game at the Grape Bowl in Lodi.
"It feels great," Martinez said. "Everyone said this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us. Nobody thought we'd be back here.
"This just shows what kind of program we are. We want to contend for a section title every year."
The section title game was like a snapshot of the Bulldogs' season. A strong start, a bump in the road, followed by an emphatic finish.
Le Grand dominated Waterford (9-3) in the first half. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 16-0 lead at intermission behind Christian Williams' 11-yard touchdown catch and a 1-yard run by Martinez.
Le Grand racked up 263 yards of offense in the first two quarters to just 28 by the Wildcats. Martinez did the heavy lifting with 24 first-half carries for 161 yards.
However, Waterford stormed back in the second half.
With its star running back Dylan Gonzalez sidelined with a knee injury, the Wildcats turned to senior Branson Angle.
The Waterford running back carried the ball on all nine plays of an 80-yard drive to start the third quarter. Angle scored on a 34-yard run to cut the Le Grand lead to 16-6.
Angle then started the fourth quarter with a 78-yard touchdown run to pull the Wildcats within 16-12 with 11 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game. Angle finished with 184 yards on 18 carries.
"Our youth showed again tonight," Martinez said. "We were up big at half and we thought, 'Ah, we got this.'
"We learned we have to keep fighting."
Needing an answer, the Bulldogs turned to their running game.
Le Grand drove 67 yards on 11 plays with Martinez carrying the ball seven times for 51 yards to help set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Dustin Slate to extend the Bulldogs' lead to 23-12.
"I'm sure if you talked to Ryan, he'd give credit to his offensive line," Le Grand head coach Rick Martinez said. "When I talked to our guys yesterday, I told them this game would be won in the trenches."
The Le Grand defense then put the game away, intercepting Waterford quarterback Josh Hickman twice in the fourth quarter.
Le Grand's Shane Grissom returned an interception on a tipped pass 18 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs a 30-12 lead with 5:08 remaining.
"As soon as I caught the ball, all I could think was get in the end zone," Grissom said.
It wasn't long after that the Bulldogs were celebrating their three-peat.
"This is something special," Rick Martinez said. "Being a part of this is awesome. It's exciting.
"We put a lot of time in. My coaches are awesome. They work year in and year out. We put all that time in for this."