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Although only a junior, 5-foot-10 180-pound running back/linebacker Louis Bland of Central Catholic was in consideration for CalHiSports.com's recently released State Athlete of the Year. In addition to his remarkable abilities on the gridiron, he's already won two CIF state championships as a wrestler with another second place finish.
To say he might be a top contender this coming year would probably be an understatement.
In actuality, such an honor is the farthest thing from the articulate young man's mind. Instead, he dreams of a day after a career in the NFL and then another as some type of scientist, when he can tell his grandchildren that his high school team in the Central Valley wine-growing and farming metropolis of Modesto, rebounded from having its 61-game winning streak snapped to win the state championship the very next season.
"I think I could make it in the NFL, but first our team is focused on getting to Carson and winning a state championship for our school and community," Bland told Cal-Hi Sports.
One would have to think Central Catholic would be a favorite to represent the North in the Div. III or Small School division of the CIF State Football Championships, especially with the fact that Bland and highly regarded Dominic Galas (look for a feature on him later this summer) will anchor a team that came within a play or two in its 22-14 season opening loss to eventual Div. III state runner-up Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, from facing Oaks Christian of Westlake Village in the inaugural Div. III title game.
"We feel like we have to be there (Carson) and over the summer the players have talked about how much we'd like to be in that game....and how much hard work right now this summer it will take for us to get that opportunity," Bland said with passion in his voice.
As for being highly-regarded himself, Bland is not only on the radar screen of major D1 football schools, but also big-time wrestling schools. One school, Missouri, wants him to play with the pigskin and grapple on the mat. Cal-Berkeley, Southern California, Oregon, Oregon St., and Oklahoma are interested in him playing football, while Oklahoma State, Arizona, and Stanford would like to see him pinning opponents at a rate equal or better than this year's 50-5 wrestling record Louis posted.
Speaking of numbers, Bland's football stats on a team with many stars and top talent are pretty impressive. They included 1,876 yards rushing, 2,332 total yards, and 32 touchdowns (192 total points or 16.0 per game) as a junior. On defense, Bland collected 74 tackles and three sacks from his linebacker spot.
Not only is Louis an excellent athlete, he is also an above average student who aspires not only to advance his career on the gridiron, but also pursue a career "in biology, chemistry, or something in that field," he explained.
We've interviewed many athletes over 25 years, but few are better spoken, opinionated on controversial issues, or as proud of their family as Bland.
"My nine year-old brother Montell just qualified for the upcoming Junior Olympics in L.A.," Bland proudly said. "He's a great athlete qualified in three events, the 100, 200, and the long jump."
Besides Louis and Montell, parents Louis II and Lisa Smith, who both work in the real estate business in Modesto, have another son Reggie, age 11.
Lastly, as both a football player and a wrestler, two sports where the CIF has targeted education against steroid use, Bland doesn't mince words on the subject.
"I don't use anything, although I think getting lots of protein is important," Bland said. "Steroids and supplement use? I'm against all of it period no pills, or shots, nothing."
One would have to imagine we probably won't have to worry about Louis Bland III becoming a chemist at one of these labs that make that ghastly stuff. He has much bigger aspirations and, from all appearances, plans on getting there by heading down the right path.