Relentless Pride …….Honored Tradition
Bears Rally Past Patriots
JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
DANDRIDGE — After three rivalry battles and a tough loss to a state-ranked opponent, Bradley Central coach Damon Floyd was worried about his team’s mental attitude going into Friday night’s game in a place they’d never played before.
It turned out he had good reason to be concerned, but his Bears were able to shake off the “blue funk” enough to spoil Jefferson County’s homecoming.
“After playing four very emotional games, it’s natural to have a let down when you play somebody you have no connection with and that’s on us as coaches to get them (the Bear players) up for the game,” related Floyd after the 28-23 victory. “We were flat most of the night, but we had times when we turned it on enough to get the job done.”
After leading for the first three quarters, Bradley found itself down by three points with just under seven minutes remaining, but rallied for a pair of late touchdowns to hand the Patriots their third loss of the season and second in as many Region 1-6A games.
Beating Jefferson County (2-3, 0-2) in just the second meeting between the programs, the 10th-ranked Bears are now 4-1 on the season and 1-1 in region play. Bradley beat the Patriots 17-14 in the 1979 Bear Bowl as well.
With the season at the midpoint, the Bears will get a bye this week before preparing to host Bearden Oct. 2.
“The break is coming at a good time for us,” declared Coach Floyd. “We’ve got some injuries that are healing up and we expect to have four seniors (Courtland Bradley, Eddie Gillette, Chase Gibby, Justin Dillard) back.”
Bradley, which has already lost Dalton Taylor for the season due to an MCL tear, was dealt a tough blow in the final seconds when sophomore running back Devin Moore, who played very well filling in for Courtland Bradley who has been out with a hamstring injury, went down with a severe injury that will put him on the shelf for the remainder of the campaign.
“He has a broken fibula and is in surgery now,” related Coach Floyd Saturday afternoon. “You hate to see someone get injured at any time, but in the final minute of a game where we are just trying to run out the clock is a real shame.”
After a scoreless opening quarter Friday evening in the Smoky Mountain foothills, Bradley got on the scoreboard in their final two possessions of the first half.
The first was set up when Bear linebacker Colby Alford picked off a Patriot fumble in midair and returned it five yards to the Jefferson County 34.
Three plays later, sophomore Adam Mullis broke a couple of tackles after being hit at the line of scrimmage and raced 30 yards into the end zone with 6:34 remaining in the half.
Mikhail Beregovsky booted the first of his four extra points on the night for a 7-0 advantage.
The Patriots were able to answer with an eight-play, 67-yard march capped by a 14-yard run by junior Michael Ealy, who was hit while trying to hurdle into end zone, causing him to flip over the goalline.
Senior Carlos Gaylan evened the score with the PAT with 3:47 on the clock.
After the ensuing kickoff sailed into the end zone, Bradley chewed up most of the remaining time in the first with an 11-play drive that culminated with junior quarterback Cole Copeland hitting Mullis with a nine-yard pass to paydirt.
Beregovsky tacked on the extra point with 26.6 seconds showing, but the first half scoring wasn’t over as UT-Martin signee Gorel Soumare return the following kickoff 63 yards to the Bear 20.
After the Bradley defense pushed the hosts back three yards in two plays, Gaylan was able to split the uprights with a 40-yard field goal as time expired for a 14-10 halftime tally.
The second half was much like the first with a scoreless third frame before both teams scored twice in the final seven minutes.
Jefferson County struck first with a nine-play drive that covered 74 yards, with senior quarterback Austin Jenkins hooking up with Cole Snowden for the final 28 yards and the Patriots only led of the contest with 6:49 remaining.
Gaylan nailed the PAT for a 17-14 advantage.
Despite being backed up to their own 8 yard line after a penalty on the kick return and a three-yard loss on the first play, Bradley was able to rally to regain the lead five plays later when the weekly “Cole-to-Carp” scoring connection covered 64 yards.
Copeland hit senior Tyler Carpenter, who had split a pair of Jefferson defenders for the dynamic duo’s second longest scoring connection of the season. They have teamed up eight times this season for scores, including a 68-yarder against fourth-ranked Science Hill.
After retaking the lead, the Bears didn’t waste any time in finding the end zone again as sophomore Jake Pressley picked off a tipped Patriot pass on the first play after the ensuing kickoff and returned it from midfield to the Jefferson 8 yard line.
Two plays later Copeland scampered in for the second Bear touchdown in 54 seconds.
Not willing to give up, the Patriots came right back with the game’s final score, going 59 yards in nine plays with Jenkins finding Noah Carter for an 11-yard scoring strike with 1:46 on the clock.
After a failed onside kick, Bradley needed a first down to be able to run the clock out and on the third play of the possession, Copeland scooted for nine yards to move the sticks, but on the play Moore went to the turf.
After being attended to by a pair of ambulance crews and trainers, Moore was taken to a local health facility in Jefferson City before being transfered to the University of Tennessee hospital for the surgery.
When play resumed, Copeland was able to take a knee and allow the game clock to run out.
Moore had seven touches in the game with 37 yards on five receptions, plus nine more on a couple of carries.
Copeland once again led the Bear offense with 304 total yards, split evenly between passing and rushing. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound gunslinger completed 16-of-31 passes for 223 yards and a pair of scores, plus gained another 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. At the midway point of the season, he had 1,331 total offensive yards and has had a hand in 16 touchdowns.
Carpenter caught a half dozen of Friday’s aerials for 109 yards, pushing him close (473) to the 500-yard mark for the season.
Sophomore Lameric Tucker also had a big night with 44 yards on a trio of catches, plus he carried the ball three times for 22 more.
Mullis had his best performance fo the season with six rushes for 38 yards and a touchdown, plus his nine-yard scoring catch.
Bradley's New Defensive Coordinator Up to the Challenge
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
Bradley Dominate Raiders in Bear Stadium
JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
CLEVELAND --- Even Mother Nature couldn’t put a damper on the “Crosstown Clash” Friday evening as Cole Copeland hoisted the Black-and-Gold on his shoulders to lead Bradley Central to a convincing victory over Cleveland High in the annual rivalry game.
“We started out great and scored two quick touchdowns, but then we came out flat after the (hour-long lightning) delay, and Cleveland got the momentum,” remarked Damon Floyd of the 34-20 victory in his 100th game as the Bear head coach.
“We even struggled the first couple of possessions of the second half and let them cut it to one (14-13) before Cole took over and opened up our running game,” he added.
The junior signal caller had been limited to just five net yards in his first 11 carries before busting loose with 129 yards on his final 17 rushes in the game’s final 16 1/2 minutes. The strong-armed gunslinger finished the night with 292 all-purpose yards and had a hand in all five Bear scores, rushing for two and throwing for the other three.
Improving to 3-1 on the gridiron season, Bradley has now won 14 of the 41 meetings between the two programs.
“We’ve played three rivals (Walker Valley and McMinn County also) in four games, and now we have to turn our attention to our region race the rest of the way,” commented Floyd, who has four wins in the last seven meetings against three different Raider coaches.
With their only loss this season coming the previous week to fourth-ranked and unbeaten Science Hill in the Region 1-6A opener, the Bears will travel to Jefferson County Friday to take on the 2-2 Patriots, who are coming off a 31-7 whipping at the hands of sixth-ranked (5A) Morristown-West.
Cleveland slips to 1-3 overall in Coach Scott Cummings’ inaugural campaign and will travel to Athens Friday evening for a Region 4-5A battle with McMinn County (2-1, 1-0), who had its game cancelled before it kicked off due to the thunderstorms in Lenoir City Friday. The Blue Raiders dropped their region opener to undefeated Soddy-Daisy a week ago.
“We seem to find ways to implode,” bemoaned the new Raider mentor. “This was just another sign of our inexperience. We had a chance to cut the game to a single score in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over on a bad exchange between our center and quarterback inside the 5 yard line. Bradley jumped on the fumble and then went down and scored.”
“We are starting a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and we have to learn to have the same approach on every snap,” Cummings added. “Give Bradley credit. They came out with a great game plan and outplayed us at the beginning. We were able to come back and run with them after the delay, but then we fell apart for a while.”
The Bears were able to score in their first two possessions of the battle, with Copeland connecting with his favorite target, senior Tyler Carpenter, on a 34-yard touchdown pass for the first and then pushing his way in from the 3 on the second.
After the second touchdown, there was a 62-minute lighting delay before senior Mikhail Beregovsky was able to put the extra point attempt through the uprights with 3:07 remaining on the opening quarter clock.
After heading to their cars or Jim Smiddy Arena, the vast majority of the estimated 5,500 fans returned to watch the rest of the game that ended after 11:30 p.m.
“The fans and teams did a great job of getting in out of the weather in an orderly fashion,” remarked new Bradley County Director of Schools Dr. Linda Cash, whose 6-foot-5, 285-pound sophomore son, Chris, is the starting left guard for the Bears.
When play resumed, the teams traded possession a half dozen times before Cleveland was able to take advantage of a turnover. Romeo Wykle picked off an interception and got his feet down in bounds at the Raider 46 yard line with five minutes to go in the first half.
A 34-yard gain on a screen pass from JaShawn Hill to Keegan Jones got the drive started and a pass interference call two plays later moved the ball into the Red Zone.
Hill capped off the five-play drive when he snuck in from the 1 with 3:20 left on the clock, giving the game a 14-7 halftime score.
After the intermission, the teams traded a trio of punts before the Raiders won the field position battle, taking over on the Bear 35, and then needed just four plays to find paydirt again.
Hill connected with Skylar Davis on a 20-yard reception just in front of the goalline, but the ball squirted loose after the catch and went into the end zone, where the Raider receiver was able to pounce on it for the score. The extra-point that would have tied the game was unsuccessful, so the hosts were still up 14-13 with 4:35 to go in the third period.
Shaking off their short hibernation, the Bears responded with back-to-back scoring drives.
The first covered 70 yards on 11 plays, including 57 yards on eight Copeland carries, plus he hit Carpenter for a 17-yard gain and found Jeffrey Brewer in the end zone for the final four yards.
After the Bear defense forced a three-and-out, including a big 14-yard sack by Jake Tolleson and Kevin Gentry, the second scoring march only had to go 40 yards. Copeland connected with Nick Howell twice for 15 yards and then on his fourth rush of the series high stepped in from the 3.
Despite being down by two touchdowns with just 8:47 in the contest, Cleveland took the ensuing kickoff and quickly marched downfield, with a 21-yard run by Jones moving the ball to the Bear 12. Bradley sophomore Jay Person saved a touchdown on the play when he dragging Jones down from behind.
On the very next snap, the pigskin slipped loose and Bradley’s Jake Pressley covered it at the Bear 5.
Keeping the ball on the ground to eat up the clock, Copeland and Adam Mullis chewed up real estate for eight plays before the “Cole-to-Carp” connection struck again, this time from 14 yards out to push the lead to 34-13 with 2:42 remaining.
Not willing to surrender, Cleveland took to the air, hitting five straight passes, the last a 36-yarder to Wykle, before Hill scored his second touchdown of the night on a one-yard plunge with 11.3 seconds on the clock. Toren Beck added the extra point to give the game its final tally.
Hill completed 14-of-21 passes for 169 yards. He was thrown for minus 23 yards on nine carries but was able to break the plane of the goalline twice.
Jones garnered 155 total yards, with 88 coming on nine carries, plus he pulled in a half dozen catches for another 67.
”We were able to have a bit of an identity on offense,” Cummings commented. “Our offensive line got off the ball like we expect them to.”
Along with his 134 rushing yards on 28 carries and two scores, Copeland connected on 14-of-19 aerials for 158 yards and raised his season passing touchdown total to eight.
The “Cole-to-Carp” connection has accounted for seven of those scores as the senior receiver pulled in four passes for 93 yards.
“Those two have a lot of experience working together, and it really pays off in the games,” related Floyd.
The Bear coach also had high praise for sophomore Nick Howell, who pulled in eight passes for 61 yards, a couple from his knees and many in key situations.
“Nick did a great job tonight,” he said. “That just goes to show we have several guys who are capable of making big plays for us.”
Senior linebacker Colby Alford led the Bear defense by being in on 11 hits, including a sack, while classmate Ryan Still collected five solo hits and assisted on three other tackles, including a sack.
Person had four solo tackles and a trio of assists, while junior Hunter Duggan also had four solo takedowns and sacked the Raider QB.
Bears defense trip up Tribe
JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
ATHENS — Bradley Central head football coach Damon Floyd got a special birthday present from his Bears and longtime coaching cohort Keith Freeman — a big victory over McMinn County for a 2-0 start to the new gridiron season.
“We couldn’t have gotten him a better present,” stated Freeman, Bradley’s offensive coordinator who has served as the interim head coach while Floyd served a two-game TSSAA suspension.“Any time you can come to Athens and beat Bo (Cagle, the Cherokees’ head coach), it’s a big win,” declared Freeman after the 34-14 convincing victory.
“Damon will be real proud of us. We’ll welcome him back to where he belongs tomorrow (Saturday).”With Bradley’s first 2-0 record to start a season since 2010, Freeman earns the distinction of having the best winning percentage of any “head” coach in the 98-year history over the program.Despite the success, he said he will be more than happy to hand the reins back over to his close friend.“I’ll gladly go back to where I belong during games — in the press box — and let him take care of things on the sideline,” Freeman said.
Floyd’s first foray into the Friday night action this season will be a big one, as sixth-ranked Science Hill invades Bear Stadium this week for the teams’ inaugural Region 1-6A battle. The Hilltoppers opened the 2015 campaign Friday evening with a 28-21 win over fifth-ranked (3A) Elizabethton.Bradley will be looking for revenge on Coach Steve Spurrier’s alma mater for a 59-47 defeat in Johnson City which ended the Bears’ season in the opening round of the TSSAA playoffs last November.
For the second straight week Freeman’s offense put 34 points on the scoreboard and while he was very happy about that, he was quick to credit Friday’s victory in Athens to defensive coordinator Cortney Braswell’s unit.
“We had another strong offensive output, but the key ingredient in tonight’s (Friday’s) win was Coach Braswell’s defense shutting down (McMinn star DJ) Kimpson,” he proclaimed. “He (Braswell) had a great game plan, and I can’t say enough about the way his kids played.”
Kimpson had gained more than 240 yards against Bradley in the last two meetings, but the Bear defense held the speedy Cherokee running back to just 77 yards on 22 carries. They also stopped him behind the line of scrimmage a half dozen times, plus for two or less yards on nine other occasions. Kimpson only had three double-digit gains, including a 34-yard dash where he was run down from behind by Bear junior safety Cason Still for a touchdown saving tackle.Still also saved a score when he caught McMinn’s Damiese Bradley at the 2 yard line after he had broken free on a 76-yard run, however the play was called back for a holding penalty on the Tribe. Still was in on a half dozen tackles, including one where he trapped Kimpson for a seven-yard loss.
“Cason is a special kind of kid. He has once in a decade type of speed,” praised Coach Braswell. “He’s a smart player that always gets in position to make plays.”
Sophomore outside linebacker Jay Person was all over the place as well.
“He’s an animal,” declared Coach Freeman. “He’s going to be a very special player for us.”
“Jay is just so physically gifted, plus he puts in the effort and prep work to succeed,” echoed Coach Braswell. “He’s young and does make some mistakes, but the sky is the limit for him.”
Senior inside linebacker Colby Alford set the Bear defensive tone early with four of his 11 tackles coming in the opening Tribe drive, which ended when Bradley stopped a fourth-down play just inches short of the marker at the Bear 21. He finished with five solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Senior outside linebacker Ryan Still led the Bear attack with a dozen total hits, including a trio of solo tackles and nine assists. Senior cornerback Zach Peak helped out with four solos, five assisted tackles, plus an interception, while guys like Hunter Duggan, Trevon Ware, Jake Pressley, Kevin Gentry and many others also got several hits as the Bears stopped the hosts at or behind the line of scrimmage 14 times during the contest.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bradley started with a bang as junior quarterback Cole Copeland hit Lameric Tucker with a swing pass in the right flat and the sophomore took off down the sideline for an 80-yard gain before being knocked out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Unfortunately, Bradley was flagged for a sideline violation as one of the referees ran into a Bear staff member on the play. Pushing the ball back to the Cherokee 16, Copeland scampered in from the 9 for the score five plays later.
“That was a great play, but it put me on edge the rest of the game,” declared Coach Freeman. “If we had gotten another sideline penalty in the game, I would have been thrown out, plus the head coach would have to sit out the next game. I didn’t know if that would be me or Damon (Floyd). I spent the rest of the game making sure everybody stayed back (off the sideline).”
Copeland, who led the team in TDs last season with 30 (18 passing and 12 running), scored again in the second quarter, capping an 80-yard, eight-play march with a 16-yard jaunt to paydirt.Bradley cashed in on its fourth offensive possession of the opening half as well when Copeland found his favorite target, senior Tyler Carpenter for the first of two 34-yard touchdown tosses between the pair on the evening.
After the intermission, the Bears pushed their advantage to 27-0 with a 47-yard, six-play drive that culminated with Copeland’s third touchdown run, this one from eight yards out. McMinn finally got on the scoreboard on the final snap of the third quarter when sophomore QB Bradley Hayes snuck in from the 1 to cap a 10-play, 61-yard march.
Both teams added a fourth-quarter score with the second “Cole-to-Carp connection,” finishing off an eight-play, 60-yard series, while the Cherokees covered the same distances in nine plays. Kimpson broke free on a 16-yard dash before Person tackled him at the 1 to save a score, but Cherokee senior carried the ball over the goal line on the following snap.
Despite injuring his shoulder while being tackled after a 32-yard run early in the second quarter, Copeland finished with 296 yards of offense, completing 13-of-18 passes for 227 yards and carrying the ball a dozen times for 69 more.
“People probably didn’t realize he hurt his shoulder, but I told him at halftime if I called his number (for a run) in the second half to ignore me, but he still ran the ball a few three times,” Freeman related.
Senior Courtland Bradley, who averaged more than six yards a carry and scored three times against Walker Valley, was limited to just three carries for seven yards after tweaking a hamstring, but sophomore Devin Moore took advantage of an opportunity with five carries for 43 yards, including breaking off a 28-yard run when the Bear second-team offense played the final series.
Carpenter pulled in a half dozen passes for 101 yards and the two scores, while Tucker finished with a trio of receptions for 85.Senior Nick Howell not only caught three passes for 41 yards, he also punted four times for an average of 36.8 yards.
“Coach (Todd) Stevison’s special teams did a great job as well tonight,” praised Coach Freeman. “We had some great coverage and returns that help set us up in good field position.”
Cason Still, who opened the Bradley season with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown the week before, had a pair of kickoff returns for 55 yards, while Carpenter ran back a punt 17 yards into Tribe territory.
Makhail Beregovsky booted four of five point after touchdown attempts for the Bears, with the first one getting blocked after a low snap.
Making the field look like Auntie Em’s yard after the Wizard of Oz tornado, 19 penalty flags were thrown on the two teams. The Bears were set back 10 times for 104 yards, while laundry was dropped on the Cherokees nine times for 74 yards.
Its second straight win over McMinn (the first since the 2000 Bears beat them twice, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs), gives Bradley a 51-38-3 advantage in the 88-year rivalry, reportedly the second longest continuous streak in the state behind only South Pittsburg and Marion County.
Bears come close but fall to Hilltoppers
RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
CLEVELAND --- After moving the Bears nearly 40 yards with three pinpoint passes and a quarterback keeper for a first down with fewer than 10 seconds left in the the game, Bradley Central quarterback Cole Copeland stepped under center for the first time — after standing in the shotgun — all night with the intent of spiking the football with six seconds left on the clock. What happened next was the source of chaos and confusion for some minutes as stunned Bears fans watched coaches from both sides work feverishly to restore order on the field.With no timeouts left to work with and the seconds quickly ticking down to zero, Copeland hustled the No. 11 Bears (2-1, 0-1 Region 1-6A) to the line. But, instead of throwing the ball to the ground to buy time, Copeland found himself racing to fall on the bouncing pigskin after the exchange from center was ruled a fumble. The Bears’ QB could only watch helplessly as a diving Hilltopper claimed the prize preserving a 29-24 Region 1-6A win for the No. 5-ranked Hilltoppers.“We went under center one play tonight — with six second left. I guess they thought it (the snap) was a fumble,” said a disappointed Bears head coach Damon Floyd as he kept a wary eye on the diminishing disarray. “That’s their (the officials’) call. I disagreed, but what do you do? It’s official.”The Hilltoppers took a 14-0 lead on a returned fumble for a touchdown and a second quarter score as the Bears struggled offensively, battling poor field position nearly the entire game before the final-minute fireworks.“Our offense sputtered, there’s no doubt. That falls on me because I didn’t have them ready,” said Floyd. “Field position really killed us at the get go. We were always backed up on our half (of the field).”Copeland and Lameric Tucker brought the Bears’ crowd to life with just over five minutes left in the half with a 60-yard pitch and catch to the Hilltoppers’ 20-yard line. Two plays later, Copeland found Tyler Carpenter for 18 yards and a touchdown to cut the Science Hill half-time lead to 14-7.Coming out of the break, the Bears overcame a 5-yard substitution infraction before the first snap of the second half to move 66 yards — aided by a pair of personal foul calls on late Science Hill hits — to the Hilltoppers’ 14-yard line. Three plays for no gain sent Bradley place kicker Mikhail Beregovsky onto the field for a 31-yard field goal attempt. The senior placekicker split the uprights cutting the margin to 14-10.The Hilltoppers answered with a late third quarter drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run and a 21-10 lead five plays into the fourth.After throwing only 11 passes in the first three quarters, Copeland’s 13th pass of the game — a 68-yard scoring strike to Carpenter — capped off a 79-yard, five-play drive that moved the Bears back to within five points at 21-16.The Bradley defense stepped up big on the next Science Hill possession.Looking at a punt while facing fourth-and-long, the Hilltopper snap sailed over the head of the Science Hill punter who desperately raced after the ball. The ensuing attempt to get the punt off was blocked by the Bears with thefootball landing squarely in the hands of Ethan Vaughn who raced 14 yards untouched into the end zone. A Copeland to Tucker pass for the two-point conversion completed the turnaround that put the Bears out front for the first time, 24-21.“The defense played great. Our offense gave up seven points, our defense scored seven points. Offensively we have to pick up our end,” Floyd acknowledged.The Hilltoppers wasted no time regaining the lead scoring on a 66-yard drive in six plays to go back out front 29-24.The fluke two-point conversion — scored by Science Hill scored when the Toppers snapped up a loose ball on a bad snap on the extra point attempt and shuffled into the end zone — forced the Bears into a must score six points situation instead of being able to work toward field position for a game-tying field goal.“Our kickoff team is killing us. We’re not covering the kick. We’re giving everybody great field position. That’s got to get better. We’ve got a lot to improve on,” said Floyd.Bradley found itself against the wall on their next possession quickly when a Copeland to Jeffrey Brewer pass was picked off by the Toppers.A brilliant defensive stand by the Bears defense holding Science Hill on a fourth-and-five gave Bradley one final shot at the Topper’s 48 with 48 seconds left on the clock.Three consecutive perfectly executed sideline completions by Copeland to Carpenter and Devin Moore for 31 yards set the Bears up first-and-10 at the Science Hill 17. After two incomplete passes, Copeland lowered his head and picked up a first down at the nine with nine seconds on the clock.Looking to spike the ball to stop the clock with no time outs, the snap from center went apparently awry sending Bears and Hilltoppers scrambling to recover the loose football. The Hilltoppers’ recovery as time ran out turned the potential game ending Bears’ fireworks into a fizzled dud and a win for Science Hill.A philosophical Floyd, although not happy with the outcome, felt the Bears held ther own for the most part, particularly on defense for 48 mintes.“The good thing is, they (Science Hill) are a good team and we went toe-to-toe. I feel like we gave them all they wanted,” he said. “It was a close game. That’s the way it’s going to be in this league.”Floyd will get the Bears back to work Monday in preparation for Friday’s battle with cross-town rival Cleveland.“Every week is a big week. Every week is a big week no matter who we are playing. We’ll just go back to work on Monday and try to get better,” said the Bears coach. “It’s going to be a tough, competitive week every week. I’m happy the kids fought. We came up short tonight but we’re competing. It’s one game. Whether we win or lose it we are going to keep going. It’s not going to change how we work on Monday. We’re not happy we lost, but we had a lot of positives.”
Cole Copeland Ranked #2 Area Quarterback by River City Sports
Emotional Bears Round Up Mustangs
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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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.
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.
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.