The rumor that refused to die finally came true when Joe "Brad" Bradshaw was hired as Bastrop High's defensive coordinator Tuesday.
Bradshaw can skip the introductions as his first hitch at Bastrop was quite successful to say the least.
Taking on the challenge of turning around a downtrodden program in 1997, Bradshaw produced immediate results, guiding the Rams to their first district championship since 1974 and their first postseason berth since 1977. Bradshaw's inaugural team finished the season 9-4, advancing to the quarterfinals in the school's first season in Class 4A (Bastrop previously competed in Class 5A).
It was the beginning of a 14-year run, which produced a 149-32 record.
Bastrop's program reached its crescendo with three straight undefeated seasons from 2005-07. The Rams extended their winning streak to 49 prior to losing to Evangel in 2008.
Bradshaw's body of work as the Rams' head coach also includes two semifinal appearances (1998, 2008), four trips to the quarterfinals and 10 district titles.
Bastrop's success during the original Bradshaw era wasn't limited to the playing field as a new fieldhouse was constructed and Ram Stadium received a massive overhaul.
Closing out his first tenure, Bradshaw directed the Rams to an 11-2 mark and a quarterfinal bid in 2010.
Citing the declining health of his father, the late Joe Bradshaw, as well as his own health concerns, Brad Bradshaw announced his resignation on Feb. 3, 2011, the day after National Signing Day.
From the moment he stepped down, rumors of Bradshaw's return circulated almost continuously around Bastrop. Those rumors reached a fever pitch last summer when Bradshaw made several appearances at the Bastrop High fieldhouse.
When all was said and done, however, Bradshaw never joined the Rams. Instead, he returned to nearby Crossett (Ark.) High where he was employed during his three years away from Bastrop.
While at Crossett, Bradshaw finished out the 2011 season as interim head coach and focused on his duties as athletic director in 2012 and 2013.
Bradshaw watched Bastrop's 2013 regular season finale at West Ouachita from the track, fueling further speculation of his imminent return. This time, the rumors proved to be accurate.
Ironically, Bradshaw was originally hired at Bastrop as defensive coordinator, a position he held for two years before being promoted to head coach.
At Bastrop, Bradshaw will join the staff of Thomas Bachman, who he hired as Bastrop's offensive coordinator in the spring of 2010. Bachman eventually succeeded Bradshaw as the Rams' head coach.
Even before stringing together three straight state championships, Bradshaw's teams were known for their physical play. "We Knockin' Headz Off," — the Rams' theme song which was blared over the P.A. system prior to home games during the early to mid-2000s — was a spinoff of the team's mindset long before the words were put to music.
Page 2 of 2 - Bradshaw has his work cut out as he inherits a beleaguered defense which bears no resemblance to the glory days of yesteryear. Last season, Bastrop allowed a disturbing 455 points (41.4 points per game) during a disappointing 3-8 campaign. Six times, the Rams were torched for 40 or more points; three times for 50-plus. Bastrop's 79-56 Week 4 loss to eventual Class 5A state runner-up Parkway represented a school record for points allowed.
Clearly, Bradshaw's hiring sends a message. Bachman is serious about upgrading the Rams' defense.