Bradley Central's Cole Copeland "All In"
By: Larry Flemming (The Chattanoogan.com)
CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bryce Copeland was a highly successful four-year starting quarterback at Bradley Central from 2009-12.
Brett Standifer followed Copeland under center and was also a four-year starter, three at Soddy-Daisy before transferring to Bradley for his senior season.
In 2014, the Bears’ offensive reins were again in the hands of a Copeland, sophomore Cole Copeland, who was continuing the role for one of the most prominent athletic families in Bradley Central history.our paragraph here.
Cole Copeland didn’t disappoint, throwing for 2,290 yards – 51 more than Standifer the year before – and 18 touchdowns (one fewer than Standifer). He rushed for 887 yards and 12 scores, finishing with 3,177 total yards and 30 touchdowns and averaged 288.8 total yards per game.
Copeland, who also excels with coach Chuck Clark’s basketball team, is back for his junior season and hopes to amplify his own reputation among the other Copeland quarterbacks the came before him.
“It’s huge,” Bradley Central coach Damon Floyd said of keeping the successful Copeland lineage going. “Cole thinks this is what he’s supposed to do. But, to Cole it’s not a big deal. It’s just his turn.”
Prior to Cole assuming his spot in the family’s familiar spot on the gridiron, Brian, Chad, Brent and Bryce all played quarterback for the Black and Gold. Brian is Bryce and Cole’s father. Brooke Copeland, one of Bradley Central’s most outstanding basketball players now at the University of Florida, is Bryce and Cole’s sister.
Brian’s father, Kent Copeland, was a star basketball player at Livingston Academy. Bill Collins, Brian’s father-in-law, was a wide receiver with the Bears and wore No. 85, the same number of career touchdown passes Bryce scored amassed in his prep career.
Cole, whose mother, Kim (Collins) was an all-state volleyball and basketball player at East Ridge under Hall of Fame coach Catherine Neely and went on to play hoops at Cleveland State Community College, doesn’t hesitate to get a little outside coaching from his dad, uncles and especially older brother Bryce.
“I’m just trying to do what he did,” Cole said of Bryce’s football heroics. “Obviously, he did pretty well. Any time I can get some constructive criticism from him it’s a great time. He’s been through it all; he’s done what I’m doing. It’s pretty neat to have a brother like that.”
Bryce Copeland put up 8,205 total career yards, 6,421 through the air and 1,784 on the ground. He wound up with the highest total of career yards in Southeast Tennessee. His passing ranks eighth all-time in Tennessee and his all-purpose yards are No. 7 all-time.
He’s now playing basketball at Lee University.
Oh, yeah. Bryce ranks eighth all-time on the Bradley hoops career scoring list with 1,689 points. Chad Copeland’s 1,939 points are No. 4 on that list.
Brooke Copeland finished her illustrious prep career with 2,232 points, which put her at No. 8 on the Bearettes’ all-time scoring chart, just 19 behind No. 7 Paige Redmon.
“The greatest thing about the Copelands is they’re all competitors,” Floyd said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with them and I played with Brent here (Bradley). He’s one of my best friends.”
Cognizant of his quarterback’s background and knowledge of the game, Floyd turned Copeland loose last season, but the Bears lost five of their first seven games and the offense averaged just 12 points a game.
The Bears picked up steam in the next three contests by scoring 39.3 points per outing and scored 47 in a 12-point loss to Science Hill in the opening round of the state playoffs.
“Bryce was a four-year starter, Brett was a four-year starter and we threw the playbook at Cole like he was a four-year starter and he wasn’t,” Floyd said. “He played well the first three or four games, but he didn’t know exactly what we wanted and that was probably my fault because we expected so much from him.
“Cole is a really good athlete, a great competitor and I think he thought he had to do it all on his own. He later figured out he could take what the defense gave him, that there always was an out and he could let the other guys help him a little bit. The other guys started making plays for him.”
Cole Copeland, due to the competitiveness throughout the Copeland clan, is using 2014 as football experience, a way to turn in even more effective performances for the Bears in his junior season.
That also meant a lot of summer work devoted to the game as well.
He attended two camps at Tennessee, an Elite 11 camp in Atlanta and the Manning Passing Camp in Louisiana.
“The Manning camp was a three-day camp and it was very neat,” Copeland said. “You woke up and it was football all day long. Really, it was football heaven. In all the camps, there was an emphasis on footwork, getting the ball out quicker, reading defenses and doing things that make you a better quarterback.”
Thanks to extensive work in the weight room, Copeland will go into the Bears’ Aug. 21 season opener against rival Walker Valley with an additional 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, Floyd said, and that could have a major impact on his play.
Although Copeland, the District 5-AAA Sophomore of the Year, acknowledged the 11-game season is a tough grind, but didn’t think playing at a lighter weight a year ago effected what he did last year competing in the tough District 5-5A.
“I took some hits, but it never bothered me,” he said. “It’s a long season and football is a war on every play. I think the extra weight will allow me to carry more of the running load.”
Floyd hopes the extra weight will help in preventing an injury to his prized quarterback.
“He stayed healthy last year,” the coach said, “but I think he took some hits his body wasn’t quite ready for. We wanted him to add weight to keep from getting hurt, but he’s not a kid that’s going to run out of bounds. Hopefully, the weight helps him break some tackles and keep plays alive.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pound Copeland and wide receiver Tyler Carpenter are the only two returning offensive starters and a large portion of the lineup may go to sophomores, Floyd said.
Carpenter (6-1, 195), the Bears’ leading receiver a year ago, caught 54 passes for 784 yards and nine touchdowns.
“If I was the defense trying to stop us, (Tyler) is the first person I’m starting with,” Floyd said.
The experience level drops off dramatically after Copeland and Carpenter, though.
“We’re replacing everybody else,” Floyd said. “A lot of guys got some experience last year, a few started more than one game, but they weren’t our normal starters. We’re going to be playing a lot of sophomores. We feel good about them, but they’re still sophomores.”
Floyd is secure in the fact that his quarterback got a full season of game experience last season, a ton of work in summer 7-on-7 competition and a large dose of confidence that can only be beneficial as the Bears gear up for a rugged challenge this season in Region 1-6A that also includes state powers Maryville, Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett along with Hardin Valley, William Blount, Jefferson County and Bearden.
Copeland is as self-assured as any player or coach at Bradley Central that the Bears can handle what lies ahead.
“I think we’re capable of doing anything we want to do,” he said. “I want to go 15-0 every year, but that doesn’t always happen. You don’t want to set your goals low, so shoot for the stars. You’ll get out of the season what you put into it.”
Cole Copeland is all in. All the time.
Tyler Carpenter Ranked #2 Area Receiver by River City Sports
Tyler Carpenter has been selected as the number two receiver in the area by River City Sports behind Soddy Daisy's Tre Carter. As a sophomore, Carpenter showed flashes of what he could add to the Bears offense and finished fourth on the team in receiving. As a junior, Carpenter broke out, stepping up as the Bears most effective receiver.
"Tyler is a great two sport athlete that has worked very hard in the off-season to improve his overall strength. He is going to be a big part in the success of our team because of his leadership qualities." Coach Floyd pointed out, "But what really sets "Carp" apart is his character off the field."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver caught 54 passes for 786 yards (14.5 per catch) and nine touchdowns last year. Now, a senior, and Bradley Central's unquestioned No. 1 receiver with the departure of Daniel Clark, he should have no problem repeating that success this season.
Although Bradley Central needs to develop reliable receivers outside of Carpenter to contend in Region 1-6A, his size, speed and physicality will allow him to be an impact player week in and week out. The combination of Carpenter and junior quarterback Cole Copeland are as good as any in the state, and if you told us the two would lead the area in passing and receiving this fall, we'd likely agree.
Bears Ranked 6th in River City Sports Poll
Despite being a talented team, region matchups with Maryville, Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett and Bearden pave a very tough road for the Bradley Central Bears this season.
However, even with such a tough schedule, Bradley Central will still be one of the most talented teams in the area.
Everything starts with junior quarterback Cole Copeland, who has gained the interest of a multitude of colleges. Copeland completed 67 percent of his passes last fall for 2,317 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air. He also added another 904 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, which made him the leading rusher on his team last season. Senior wide receiver Tyler Carpenter will return as Copeland's favorite target as he finished with 786 yards, nine touchdowns and averaged 72 yards per game last season.
The defense may be the biggest area of improvement with the addition of new defensive coordinator Cortney Braswell. He will take over a unit that has eight of their top-10 leading tacklers return and talent at almost every position.
Headlining the Bradley Central defense will be cornerback Trevon Ware, who is a long and athletic player that has a high ceiling. The rising senior is arguably one of the top defensive backs in the area and returns from a season with 34 tackles, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He does a good job of cutting the field in half and forcing opposing quarterbacks to throw in the opposite direction.
As the only 6A "Super 32" school in the Chattanooga area, the Bears may have the toughest path in front of them to contend for a region championship. But that doesn't mean that the #BCNation is backing down from their competition.
Bradley's New Defensive Coordinator Up to the Challenge
Q & A with Head Coach Damon Floyd
By Ryne McCoy (River City Sports):
Cleveland, Tenn - This season, the Bradley Central Bears are entering a new region as a Super-32 school, one of the largest in the state. With the added pressures of playing in a higher classification, the Bears will need a calm, collected, and proven leader taking the snaps.
They have just that in Cole Copeland. who is ranked the number 2 area quarterback right behind Senior JaVaughn Craig rom McCallie.
"He feels a lot more comfortable now as opposed to this time last year because he knows what we want," Head Coach Damon Floyd said.
"With his leadership ... he has actually started coaching people, which is what we want."
Last season as a sophomore Copeland completed 67% of his passes for 2317 yards and 18 touchdowns. He added another 904 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, as he was also the Bear's leading rusher.
Since then, Copeland has attended a few camps including throwing at the Elite 11 Quarterback Regionals in Atlanta (for the story on this click here). Copeland also has added about 15-20 pounds according to Coach Floyd, and it will be interesting to see how much he continues to progress over summer.
"I just want to be the best I can be," Copeland said. "Yeah, I've gotten a little better, but you can always improve on something. Just getting the ball out quicker, getting my steps down, and getting the timing down with the receivers."
Copeland will have no shortage of targets as the Bears return many key players at the skill positions.
Leading receiver Tyler Carpenter returns after having 786 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns last season, but he will not be alone as the Bears return several players with in-game experience.
On the offensive line, the Bears will be very young. Not a single starter will be returning to the trenches this fall. That, however, has not deterred the Bear's signal caller as Copeland has faith in in the big guys in front of him and expects them to compete week after week.
"Yeah we're young but when we go out they're (the line) going to fight, I promise you that," Copeland said.
The Bears will likely be improved on defense with the addition of defensive coordinator Cortney Braswell from Chattanooga Central. His presence is instantly noticed even in his second practice at Bradley, and Copeland says the energy he brings to that side of the ball is exciting.
"He (Braswell) brings a lot of intensity, practice is night and day from last year, Copeland said. He brings the energy and a lot of intensity that surrounds practice, I like it, a lot."
Despite this being the second spring practice for the Bears, this team seems greatly improved from last season.
Whether that is because of having an experienced leader under center, an energetic new coordinator to lead the defense, a sense of urgency created from entering the Super-32, or a combination of the three, this Bradley team will be one to watch this season.
As long as the Bears continue to progress behind their junior quarterback, they may surprise a lot of people entering this new district.
"We take it one day at a time and work hard every day to get better, Copeland said. "If you work hard, everything else will work out for itself."
Copeland has all of the physical attributes coaches are looking for in a quarterback. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Copeland is ready to handle the rigors of Region 1 6A, which features state powers Maryville and Dobyns Bennett. In order for Bradley Central to climb in the region standings, Copeland has to have another monster season. With that said, if all of the pieces come together in Damon Floyd's system, Copeland has a chance to blossom into one of the state's best.
By Staff Reports:
Bradley Central Football would like to announce the hiring of Cortney Braswell and welcome him as the new Defensive Coordinator for the Bears for the upcoming 2015 season. Coach Braswell is coming to the Bears via Chattanooga Central where he held the same position helping lead the pounders to a 6-5 record and a first round play-off game in 2014.
Coach Braswell will be bringing his 3-4 defense to the Bears that gave up less than 14 points in seven games in his first year with the Pounders. Coach Braswell has been the defensive coordinator at Chattanooga Central (2014), North Murray (GA, 2013), East Ridge (2010-11) and Soddy Daisy (2010). He has also served as Offensive coordinator at Notre Dame (2012) and coached at Ringgold (GA, 2008) as well.
“We as a defensive staff had already decided that we were going to have to go to a three man front with the personnel we have coming back on defense. After bringing in Cortney to talk about what he does with the 3-4 it became apparent that we needed to go ahead and try to bring him on board so he could be apart of spring practice.” stated Coach Floyd.
"A four hour meeting with myself and the Bradley staff flew by like a four minute meeting, I knew then it was a place I could not only survive but thrive in,” boasted Coach Braswell. "I have always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for everything Damon and his staff has accomplished in the last few years," Coach Braswell added.
“I am stoked to have Cortney on staff, he brings a vast knowledge of the 3-4 defense to our staff. This will help us on the offensive side of the ball as well, giving us the ability to also bounce ideas off of him. We face a lot of three man front teams every year,” an excited Coach Freeman stated.
“I have also decided to make Coach Todd Stevison our special teams coordinator. In the past we have delegated each special team to a coach. This worked well in practice but was difficult during the game as each coach was trying to do two jobs at once. Todd will be responsible for all of our special teams and getting them ready during game time transitions,” Coach Floyd announced.
“Bringing on Coach Braswell for defense and giving Coach Stevison special teams along with Coach Freeman gives me three coordinators that I can trust and frees me up as a head coach to be involved with all aspects of our football program not only on the field but off the field as well,” pointed out Coach Floyd.
Cortney is a 2005 graduate of The Baylor School in Chattanooga and was a 2004 Mr. Football Finalist in his senior year. After attending Liberty University Cortney finished his Bachelors degree at Dalton State College. Cortney is presently finishing his masters degree at Lee University.
County Commissioner Johnny Mull with Will Robbins
Todd Stevison with Jacob Williams at Senior Awards Ceremony
Will Robbins Receives Rex Dockery Award
Jacob Williams Receives Principles Award
Bears Nation Ready For New Region
By Staff Reports:
There has been a lot of discussion about the new TSSAA football realignment and how it is going to negatively affect the Bradley Central High School football program the next two years. However, those who have come to this conclusion have only looked at the negatives, without weighting in the positives.
“It’s easy to get caught up in all the negatives when looking at realignment because change is never popular no matter how bad the other plan may have been in the first place. But having looked at it and having time to think of the positives, we feel this is a great opportunity for our program and school going forward.” Coach Floyd reiterated.
Looking at next year’s schedule, one can see that all the concern about travel and lost revenue may not be the case after closer review. The Bears will still have big money games with cross town rivals Cleveland and Walker Valley, while maintaining the long rivalry with McMinn County the next two years. When you add in the fact that these games will be played early when the weather is nice and warm along with the newness of the season, these games may bring in more revenue than in previous seasons. Bradley will also host region opponents Science Hill, Bearden, Hardin Valley, and William Blount next year. These teams have a lot of tradition and usually bring a good following. These games should also increase home attendance with the added excitement of playing in the Super 32. Although the Bears will lose the revenue generated by the Polk County rivalry, there was no guarantee that it would have continued without the realignment. Taking this into consideration with the fact the Bears will be hosting Maryville and Dobyns-Bennett in the next two years producing added attendance and statewide exposure, the new schedule should produce about the same revenue over the next two years as past scheduling cycles have.
“We are excited to open up with Walker Valley the next two years; it will bring a lot of excitement to the community and there has been talk about playing this game on a Thursday which would increase attendance and add revenue to our school and community.” Stated Coach Floyd.
Taking a closer look at travel, one can see that the athletic directors and coaches of the new Mountain East Region have done a great job of scheduling and keeping the travel to a minimum for all schools involved. Looking at the Bears schedule next year, the Bears will only have to travel to three region games that include Maryville, Jefferson County, and Dobyns Bennett. The non-region travel schedule includes a trip to cross town rival Walker Valley and a short ride to Athens to face McMinn.
“We have one long road trip this upcoming year with Dobyns Bennett and then we will have to travel to Science Hill the following year, so the long trips are not in the same year. If you look at past seasons, Bradley has always had to travel to find games; this is nothing new for our program. The only difference is these are now region games.” Coach Floyd explained.
One of the up sides to playing in the newly formed Mountain East Region is the fact that Bradley players will be getting exposure that they would not have normally gotten in the old district alignment. Player exposure will increase with the Bears participating in a region that has three large media markets that include Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri Cities along with the proximity of many more college football programs. This benefit of players getting this kind of exposure will far outweigh any travel inconveniences that may arise. The diversity of the college programs that have an opportunity to see and hear about players is unprecedented for those playing for the Bears. These include Maryville College, Carson Newman, Tusculum, UTC, ETSU, and UT. Playing in this environment gives Bradley a distinct advantage over other local programs when it comes to getting statewide exposure for statewide awards.
“We are excited about playing in the super 32, our players will be getting lots of exposure the next two years that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Bradley Football.” Coach Freeman stated.
Another upside in the equation are the venues and environment in which Bradley is going to play in. As good an atmosphere Bear Stadium provides; every stadium that the Bears travel to in the Region will have just as good or even a better venue to play in. Three of the stadiums the Bears will play in have turf, which includes Dobyns-Bennett, Maryville, and Science Hill; as well as providing some of the best atmospheres to play in. Just between these three schools there is close to 300 years of football and close to 2000 wins. Each of these schools, along with Bradley, established football teams before 1930. Bearden is another school with a long tradition, fielding its first football team in 1949.
“Bradley has always taken pride in knowing that we have competed at the highest level in football throughout its history. Our administration, staff, and alumni feel right at home being in the same region with traditional powers Maryville, Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett, and Bearden. We have a recent history with William Blount and have a lot of respect for that program as well. Add in tradition rich Jefferson County and Hardin Valley who may have some of the best turn key facilities I’ve ever seen and you have a region that is second to none as far as history, facilities, and fan base.” Coach Freeman said proudly.
“Obviously our expenses are going to increase with us being in the new region, but we are not going to let it affect what we do as a program. I will say one thing; we will travel in style and take charters for region games. We will continue to be a first class program. We will just have to ask more from our alumni and community to help us continue to compete at the highest level possible. I don’t expect raising more money to be a problem; I know our alumni and community love Bradley High School and will rally the troops to continue the tradition and pride that has been established way before any of us on the current staff was even born” Coach Floyd boasted.
The reality is things are not in dire straits at Bradley with the new region alignment, as matter of fact Bradley is looking forward to the challenge of competing at the highest level and hosting a first round game in the play-offs next year.
Relentless Pride …….Honored Tradition
By Staff Reports:
It was a great day for the Bradley Football Program as Jacob Williams signed his LOI to further his education and football career with Maryville College. Jacob's family, along with numerous teammates, and classmates joined him to help the Bear Nation celebrate his signing.
"Jacob's hard work on the gridiron and classroom has paid off. I have seen him put in numerous hours in the weight room to become a better football player. His dedication and self-discipline on the field and in the classroom is the reason that he is going to get his education paid for. We are excited for Jacob and know that Maryville College is getting a great student athlete." remarked Coach Floyd.
Jacobs hard work in the classroom produced a 3.96 GPA leading him to be recognized as one of the Scholar Athlete's of the Year for District 5 AAA. Jacob also received the 2015 David Weir Memorial Award recently at the Bradley Football awards ceremony held in the Fine Arts Center. Jacob has been involved with other student organizations including HOSA, while also being a leader in FCA during his four years at Bradley.
"I am excited about attending Maryville College and being a pre-med major. I hope to be a Physician Assistant in the future," responded Jacob
"Jacob played multiple positions for us in the offensive line. His ability to learn tackle, guard and center helped us build depth which was a key factor in our success the last half of the season," added Coach Gideon.
"What people don't realize is that Jacob is a well rounded student. He is involved in Vocal Motion, which is a competition show choir here at Bradley. I have seen him dance and heard him sing and he is really good. As you could see from the number of students and players that attended his signing, he is well liked at our school," boasted Coach Freeman.
"I have really enjoyed Bradley High School but I am looking forward to the challenge of playing at Maryville. Most of my conversations have been with Coach Baily the Offensive line coach and he has told me that he thinks I will work mostly at center," remarked Jacob.
Courtland Bradley out runs a Mustang Defender
JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
Bradley Central had plenty of motivation going into the season-opening gridiron game at the “The Corral,” but after the payback victory over its cross-county rivals, the biggest celebration of the night took place 11 miles away at Bear Stadium.
“We told Coach (Damon) Floyd we’d meet him on the 50-yard line (on Bradley’s home field) after we won,” proclaimed interim head coach Keith Freeman after the 34-27 victory over Walker Valley.
“We’re going to park the (team) bus at the north gate (at Bear Stadium) and run out to midfield to celebrate this win with our mentor and leader,” said a choked-up Freeman Friday evening as he wiped away tears from his eyes.
Floyd, the second-longest tenured head coach in the 98-year Bear football history, wasn’t allowed at the contest due to a controversial TSSAA suspension, but rode to the stadium with his team before leaving to watch the contest on the internet.
“He (Floyd) has built this program from scratch to what it is today,” declared Freeman, who has been by Floyd’s side during the 10-year process, which includes five-straight playoff appearances. “Not being able to have him here made this a very emotional night for us.”
The victory was extra sweet for the Bear players and coaches, who walked off the same field with their first-ever loss to the Mustangs in a heartbreaking 17-14 outcome last September.
“It (last year’s game) hurt worse than any loss I’ve ever had,” declared Bear junior quarterback Cole Copeland, who finished Friday night with 236 yards of total offense. “I’m glad to get that bad taste out of my mouth.”
Bradley faces a similar situation this week when it will once again be without Floyd as the team heads to Athens to face their oldest rival — McMinn County.
The Cherokees, who have played the Bears 92 times since Bradley opened in 1916, including the last 88 years straight, opened the 2015 campaign with a revenge win of their own, stopping their county-rival McMinn Central 34-20 Friday.
Walker Valley will regroup to get ready to head to Hixson to battle the Wildcats, who took it on the chin from reigning state champion Marion County Saturday in its season opener.
“This loss stings, but it’s not the end of our season,” proclaimed Mustang head coach Glen Ryan. “We’ve got to bounce back and get ready to face a good Hixson team.”
Both coaches (Ryan and Floyd) said going into the contest that the team that made the fewest mistakes would win.
“They made the plays and took care of the things they needed to do and we didn’t,” assessed Ryan. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, but the little things didn’t go our way. We had some opportunities but didn’t cash in on them.”
Bradley dealt the hosts a big blow right out of the gate when junior Cason Still fielded the opening kickoff on the 6-yard line, broke a couple of tackles and headed down the left sideline (in front of the Bear bench) to paydirt.
After the 94-yard scoring dash, senior soccer player Makhail Beregousky entered his first-ever football game to boot the extra point with just 15 seconds gone off the game clock.
To their credit the Mustangs took the body blow and came right back with an 11-play drive covering 74 yards to answer with points of their own.
Junior Alex King carried the ball over from eight yards out for the first of his four touchdowns on the night.
The extra-point kick was wide leaving the boys from the south side still in the lead at the end of the opening quarter of play.
After going three-and-out in its first try, the high-powered Bradley offense got going in its second try.
Copeland ran the ball three times for 27 yards during the drive, plus completed 4-of-5 passes for another 44, including an 18-yard toss to the back of the end zone to senior Tyler Carpenter, who showed off his vertical leap to pull it down and get his feet just inside the back line of the end zone.
After the Bear PAT attempt missed, it was Walker Valley’s turn for some excitement as King returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Andrew Hannah evened the game with his extra point kick just 27 seconds into the second frame.
Back-to-back penalties and some good Mustang defense holding the visitors to just one yard in three plays, forced the Bears to punt from their own end zone.
Walker Valley junior Bryce Nunnelly returned the kick 25 yards to the Bradley 11. Three plays later King bulled in from the 2. Hannah’s kick gave the hosts their first lead of the contest.
Copeland answered by orchestrating another scoring drive to knot the contest at 20-all.
Stepping into the starting 1-back role this year, senior Courtland Bradley showed what he is capable of doing with his first of three touchdowns on the night on an 11-yard scamper to paydirt to cap the 10-play, 63-yard march.
The Bear defense came up big on the second play after the ensuing kickoff when sophomore Jake Pressley went up high to tip a Mustang pass and then came down with the interception near midfield.
Needing just a half dozen snaps to cover the 55 yards needed, Bradley scooted the final 16 yards to put the Bears back on top 27-20 at the half.
“That turnover shifted the momentum,” declared Coach Ryan. “We were up by a touchdown and then we let them score twice in a little more than a two minute span.”
After getting off nine snaps but coming up empty in the final 127 seconds before the bands took the field, Walker Valley took the opening kick off of the second half and drove down to even the score once again.
King crossed the plane of the go from three yards out on his fifth carry of the 10-play, 74-yard march. Hannah split the uprights to knot the game at 27-all with 8:20 left on the third quarter clock.
After stalling the Bears’ next drive at the WV 26, the hosts gave the ball back four plays later when a fourth-down try by King was met by the Bear defense behind the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to Copeland just 33 yards from paydirt.
After the talented signal caller gained 11 yards on three plays, he once again handed the ball to Bradley, who raced the final 22 for what turned out to be the game-winning score with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
“Courtland showed a spark tonight,” declared Coach Freeman of Bradley’s 68 yards and three scores on 11 carries. “He’s patiently waited for his turn and he’s ready to make the most of it.”
After the offenses and special teams combined to put 61 points on the board in the first three frames, the fourth quarter was dominated by big plays by defenses.
The Bears stopped the hosts on a fourth-and-2 play near midfield when sophomore Jake Pressley hit King behind the line of scrimmage before junior linebacker Hunter Duggan finished him off for no gain.
The Black-and-Gold was able to pick up a couple of first downs but were forced to punt, which Howell dropped in perfectly to be downed on the 1-yard line.
King got the Mustangs out of the shadow of their own goalposts with a 15-yard run and then sophomore Kolten Gibson hit junior Cooper Melton for seven yards. However, a holding penalty, a pass attempt knocked away by senior Ryan Still and a sack by junior Dalton Taylor forced a Mustang punt.
Walker Valley junior linebacker Skyler Swafford then started a three-and-out with a five-yard tackle for loss. He led the ’Stang defense with a dozen tackles, including eight solos.
Howell’s final punt of the night gave the Mustangs one last chance to rally, but they would have to go 81 yards in a little over two minutes.
The Navy-and-Gold Stallions opened the drive with a 17-yard connection from Gibson to junior Dylan Towers, but two plays later Bear junior defensive end Malik Whaley was able to record a sack with 95 ticks left on the clock.
After an incomplete pass, Walker Valley was faced with a fourth-and-17 when Gibson hooked up with Towers again to get the first down at midfield.
However, on the next play Duggan hit the receiver of a screen pass immediately for a three-yard loss.
After using their final timeout with 53 seconds remaining, Gibson then completed a pass to himself (the ball popped straight up out of his hand while throwing and he caught it on the way down) before Taylor tackled him for another seven yards in the wrong direction.
Walker Valley was able to head in the right way with an 11-yard pass to King on the next play. With the clock still running, the Mustangs rushed to the line to spike the ball, not realizing it was fourth down. However, the hosts were given one more chance for a miracle when the Bears called a timeout prior to the snap with 0.6 seconds remaining.
With 48 yards to the end zone, Bradley set up its prevent defense, which worked well when Gibson hit Nunnelly with a short pass and the Bears were able to tackle him at the 26.
“The defense came up with some big plays when we needed them the most,” praised Freeman. “Coach (Cortney) Braswell has come in and done a great job of reworking our defense to a 3-4. He’s one of the best defensive coordinators I’ve ever been around.”
Walker Valley finished with 356 yards of offense, with Gibson completing 23-of-31 passes for 199 yards, while King bulled for 108 yards on 17 carries.
The Bear offense countered with 319 total yards as Copeland rushed 22 times for 122 yards, plus completed 12-of-20 aerials for 102 yards.
Courtland Bradley gained 68 yards on 11 carries, while Carpenter covered 59 on four receptions.
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By River City Sports:
Cleveland Tenn.— With the hot sun beating down on their shoulder pads, the Bradley Central football team is in the thick of their spring practice. Last season, they finished 5-6 overall and 3-3 in district play under head coach Damon Floyd. With a new defensive coordinator and a potential standout star in the making at quarterback, it will be interesting to see how the Bears will do in their new region. For this edition, Floyd discusses his team’s progress for the spring.
Q: What are the main things you want your kids to take away during these spring practices?
A: “I think it is trying to install your offense and defense, but the main thing goes down to blocking and tackling during the spring. You get a chance to be pretty physical, which means that if someone does get banged up, they get a chance to heal. We have a lot of spots to fill, and we’re going to find those spots through toughness to be honest.”
Q: What do you see as quarterback Cole Copeland’s ceiling for potential going forward this season?
A: “He’s pretty good and there’s a very high ceiling for him this season. He’s getting recruited by multiple colleges and they have shown interest in him. He’s still got to get better, but if he starts off the year the way he ended it, he will be really good. His brother was a four-year starter here and Cole used to come to practices all the time, and we’ve run the same offense for five or six years now, so he really knows what to do in order to be successful.”
Q: What’s the biggest growth you’ve seen in his game from his freshman year to this point?
A: “His overall body strength has improved because he’s been hitting the weight room. I think he’s put on 15 to 20 pounds this offseason, so I think he’s gotten a lot stronger and faster. He feels a lot more comfortable now as opposed to this time last year, because he knows what we want. With his leadership,, he doesn’t have to worry too much about his job, and he has actually started coaching people, which is what we want."
Q: What other areas on the offense do you see as key for you all this upcoming season?
A: “I really like our skill positions right now, and I feel like we have a lot of guys we can get the ball to in order to make some plays. I think our offensive line can improve a little bit, but from day one to day two has been a huge overall improvement. I was really happy with our offensive line during this practice, and even though we have a ways to go, I really like the progress.”
Q: With the addition of defensive coordinator Cortney Braswell coming from Chattanooga Central, what has he been able to do for you all this season?
A: “He’s very passionate and is very good at what he does because he loves what he does. He’s going to expect a lot from the kids and we want it that way. He brings a lot of passion, energy and knowledge and we’re going to let him do his thing. Our kids love him and have responded to his instruction very well."
Q: What is Trevon Ware’s [defensive back/receiver] potential this season?
A: “Well I think he’s going to be our best receiver in most games, and will also be our go-to corner and cover the best receiver. We don’t expect him to get beat deep and make some plays when they throw it his way. Last season he did a very good job and other teams very seldom threw it to his side. I expect him to be disciplined and not fall asleep back there, because other teams will test him, but we will see what he can do.”
Q: Are there any areas of improvement offensively or defensively?
A: “I don’t think there’s any one area to pinpoint, because every area needs improvement. That’s what spring is for, and when we scrimmage a good team like Baylor, they are going to show us some of those weaknesses, and that’s what we want. We have to improve everywhere and we’re not ready obviously just like everybody else this spring, but we’re gradually getting there day by day.”
Q: With the recent distractions that have come up, what will you all take from that moving forward?
A: “Is what it is, and I’m going to take the penalty and the kids are not. I accept that I made a mistake and committed a violation, but I’m going to deal with it and move on. Just like I talked to my kids, we’re going to face adversity which is part of life and go forward from there. As far as my team is concerned, it’s really over and we’re focusing on this spring.”
Cole Copeland Ranked #2 Area Quarterback by River City Sports
Emotional Bears Round Up Mustangs
Coach Braswell gives Trevon Ware some extra work
By Taylor Ellis (River City Sports)
It's 4:30 p.m. and 81 degrees when Bradley Central Defensive Coordinator Cortney Braswell orders his DB's back to the line to start over.
"First line up!" Braswell says as his group, panting and visibly fatigued, rushes back to the far side of the practice field to start their footwork drill over for the second time in a row.
"We're looking for perfection," Braswell says as his group explodes off the line and into their backpedals with their coach looking on, trying to hold back a smile.
With his new role as defensive coordinator for the Bradley Central Bears, Cortney Braswell is stepping into the unfamiliar and unfriendly realm of 6A football, something that the former Central assistant has never done before. Nonetheless, Braswell is approaching the challenges ahead with the same confidence and contagious energy that he has had throughout his coaching career, and is slowly starting to become acclimated to his new surroundings.
“The body type is certainly different here," Braswell said after the Bear's second practice of the Spring. It’s weird seeing six-foot safeties. I’m not used to that, but it’s been quite nice.”
Now entering into "Super 32 football," the Bears and Braswell's defense will be seeing the highest level of competition the state of Tennessee has to offer on a weekly basis.
Despite the tougher schedules and logistical nightmares associated with 6A football, Braswell is barely phased and feels that his defense, when given the right opportunity, will be capable of competing at a very high level come fall.
“We use the term reckless abandon," Braswell said. "We want to play with no regard for human life around us, and play hard until the whistle.”
“Your not always going to be the biggest, and your not always going to be the most talented, but we’re always going to try to play with the most effort.”
Effort will be key for the Bear's defense this year, anchored by senior cornerback Trevon Ware and junior outside linebacker Dalton Taylor.
Taylor has come on strong during spring and in the weight room, Braswell said, and is a player that did not get a lot of playing time last season.
This is not the case this season as Taylor, as Braswell put it, "has come out here and has been as physical as anybody.”
In addition to a strong linebacking core, the defensive secondary could contribute significantly to Bear's success this season. Anchored by Trevon Ware, the Bradley Central defensive backs are just as good at pass coverage as they are in run support, and are certainly not afraid to come up and hit the ball carrier.
Ware, in particular, could be a standout for the Bears this season, and will definitely be a player to watch in the fall.
"He’s [Ware] long, he’s athletic, he runs really well; he's just a phenomenal corner," Braswell said. "That’s the kind of kid your looking for.”
Although still early in their spring practices, the Bradley Central Bears are opportunistic and are looking forward to making a splash into "Super 32" football.
And now, thanks to Cortney Brasswell, the Bears have a spark and a passion on defense that could pay dividends when the seasons change.
As for now, everything is purely speculation, but Bradley Central is clearly taking great strides to become a powerhouse in the state of Tennessee.
Lucky for us, we were able to see it when it began