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​​Bradley Football 

Bears Receive Larry Sells Sportsmanship Award

JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor

THE BRADLEY CENTRAL football team took a timeout from spring practice Tuesday for head coach Damon Floyd (center, right) to accept the Larry Sells Sportsmanship Award from Tri-County Football Officials Association assignor Craig Phillips (center, left).

“Among the 12 schools we serve, Bradley showed the best sportsmanship in the way they treated the officials,” related Phillips, who said this is the first time in his association with the group that Bradley has been so honored. “Bradley has made great strides in the past few years to make sure the officials are well taken care of, from the time we arrive at a game to the time we leave.”

Phillips also stated the TCFOA is seeking “some new officials for the upcoming season. We are in need of anyone interested in officiating the games.” Call Phillips at 423-715-9471 if interested. The Bears will wrap up spring drills with a scrimmage against Soddy-Daisy at 6 p.m. Thursday evening at Bear Stadium.

Bears to Dedicate 2016 Season to Jace Taylor 

By Staff Reports:

The BC Nation came together at Clingan Ridge Baptist Church to remember  the incredible life of Bradley Bear football player, Jace Taylor,  while mourning the loss of a talented, funny, and caring teammate. The entire staff and team would like everyone to continue to pray for Jace's family, Scott (Father) Angie (Mother) and Brooke (Sister) as we all try to find comfort through this difficult time. We hope to carry on Jace's legacy by dedicating the 2016 season to Jace and his family. 

Trevon Ware Participates in Border Bowl

TYLER WICKMAN Banner Sports Writer

Only one player from the area schools was selected to make an appearance in the 2016 Kentucky-Tennessee National Guard Border Bowl that took place on Saturday at the University of the Cumberlands.

That special invitee was Trevon Ware of Bradley Central, who is known around the state for being a top-notch cornerback.

Ware was an integral part of the Black-and-Gold’s success this season as they reached seven wins for the first time since 2011. Their run was cut short when they faced Riverdale on Nov. 5 in what ended up being a heartbreaking 38-34 loss in the first round of the playoffs.

“Trevon is one of the hardest workers we have ever had. He has been very coachable and obviously very successful, so we are proud of him being able to represent Tennessee. Bradley has a rich tradition of athletics, and he goes right along in there with it,” pointed out Bradley Central head coach Damon Floyd.

At 6’1, 185 pounds, Ware made a lot of opposing coaches change their minds about throwing in his direction.

“It’s funny; people really didn’t even try and test him on whatever side (of the field) he was on at corner. Really, he just shut down one side of the field for majority of our games,” Floyd explained.

Not only does Ware excel on the field, but he also has shown that he conducts himself as a leader off the field.

“Trevon did what he was supposed to do day in and day out. He worked hard, he was coachable, and we didn’t have to worry about him in the classroom,” Floyd added.

Boyd-Buchanan head coach Grant Reynolds led the Tennessee team of all-star seniors as they got the 29-14 win over the Kentucky squad on Saturday.

This now puts the all-time series in Tennessee’s favor, 5-4. Along with getting a chance to shine on the gridiron, players also receive jerseys and rings as memorabilia.

Ware was shocked and honored to even be invited to the Border Bowl, but he said it was bittersweet, considering it was his last high school football game.

“I felt special. It was just a great experience overall in meeting new players and having great coaches around me,” Ware said. “I’m glad I went out the way I did in my high school career.”

College plans are still undecided for Ware, but he has special interest in continuing his football career at Appalachian State, which he will decide upon in the near future.

Now it’s back to basketball season for the multi-talented athlete, who is a guard for the 12-5 Bears, who are currently 5-0 in district play.

“I’m ready to get back with my brothers and hopefully win regionals,” Ware stated.

Copeland a Scrappy Moore Finalist

By Staff Reports:

The Times Free Press has announced that Bradley Central’s Cole Copeland is a finalist for this year's Scrappy Moore Male Athlete of the Year and will represent the Bears at the annual Best of Preps banquet. Copeland was a Mr. Football semifinalist as a junior and was named to the 6A All-State Football Team after throwing for 2,489 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 864 yards and 14 TDs in 2015. He also was named to the AAA All-State Basketball Team and helped the basketball Bears win the District 5-AAA regular-season championship, averaging 21 points and making better than 51 percent of his field-goal tries. He added 11.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals a game to lead his team to the Class AAA state sectional.

Bears Ready For Summer Workouts

RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor

Although Bradley Central entered spring football camp minus seven roster names, head coach Damon Floyd was happy about the fact the Bears will return more starters for the fall than at any time since he took over the football program.

“By the end of spring, we had probably five guys who were out for baseball, but we had most everybody else. We weren’t missing too many. We had two out with injuries, but we have a lot of people that played last year coming back on both sides of the ball,” he said as Bears trickled into the Bradley Central field house.

“We’ve made a couple of position changes since spring. We’re headed in the right direction. It’s a process. In 10 days you don’t really find out everything you want.”

The Bears don’t spend much time working on passing and pass defense during spring camp. The majority of work goes into learning plays and learning how to stop opponents’ plays. July will be the month when pass offense and defense begin to come into play when 7-on-7 tournaments begin.

“We work on our offense, we work on our run game and defensively we work on trying to stop the run. We feel like we will get plenty of work on pass offense and pass defense in the 7-on-7s in July. We also don’t do any special teams during spring practice. It’s just about run game on offense and defense,” Floyd explained.

Floyd and the Bears faced off against Baylor and Soddy-Daisy for spring scrimmages, when the coaching staff kept a close eye on who did what and where improvements need to be made.

“I thought we did a lot of good things, obviously there are a lot of things we have to correct. With 10 days of practices you find out some weaknesses and address those over the summer,” he acknowledged.

“There are definitely things that we’ve got to get fixed. We play in something like 71 days, it’s here. We don’t have a whole lot of time so we try to get it corrected as quickly as we can. As the summer goes on, we will start putting in a few more schemes than we had in the spring.”

The Bears, like most teams, used the spring to take a look at depth to see who might step up when called upon and what tweaks need to be made or even if position moves need to be discussed. With two starting safeties out for baseball during camp, Floyd was able to closer evaluate younger Bears who may be able to help in the fall.

“Depth is always an issue in the spring, trying to find out who can help you. We weren’t missing too many people, but our two safeties were still in baseball,” he said. “We had four more guys who got a lot of work at safety. Normally they don’t get that work. It really depends on who is there and who is coming back. But building depth, to me that’s not just spring that’s year-round.”

When asked if he saw any Bears he is excited to get into fall camp, he was quick to point out that the roster this time around is full of experience, and he is expecting multiple breakout players.

“There are too many to name, to be honest. I think we have seven guys on offense who were starters last year. We’ve got about seven or eight on defense who were starters last year. There’s more than a handful of guys we are expecting to have big years. Coming into last year I think we had two returning starters on offense, Tyler Carpenter and Cole Copeland. We had to replace nine other guys. That’s not necessarily the case on offense or defense this year,” he said. “On defense we played a lot of sophomores who started, or even if they were juniors it was probably their first year starting. We’ve got a lot more experience coming back, probably more than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here at Bradley.

“The positive is we are able to platoon,” he continued. “As a matter of fact, we just ordered new practice jerseys for offense and defense. There may be a couple of guys, like Cason Still for example, who may run the ball a little bit, but other than that you are just on offense or defense. This is the first time we’ve really been able to fully commit to it. We’re hoping that will help us and obviously that it builds a lot of depth for us, too.”

Even though the Bears are working hard to prepare for the fall campaign, the summer will not be spent in the weight room seven days a week. As a matter of fact, the team has switched to endurance lifting and will spend less time on campus in the month of June.

“We’ve backed off a little bit in the month of June. We’re going to cut it from four days to three days. Just because we feel like the season is so long. We don’t want our kids to be worn out in the month of September or October. We want them to still be ready to go. We’re backing off to three days in the month of June,” explained the Bears coach. “Also, in the dead period, you only get three weeks to do anything. We’re not worried about being in shape right now. We’ll continue to lift. We’ve switched from a strength gaining phase to endurance. We’ll take this month to work on some fundamentals, but we don’t use it much for conditioning. We feel like the drills and things we do will take care of most of the conditioning for us.”

But that doesn’t mean the workload or learning process slacks off. The Bears are well into putting in schemes and systems to be ready for the opener against rival Walker Valley.

“We started yesterday,” Floyd said of learning Xs and Os. “That’s one of the reasons we start spring so late. We just kind of continue on. They know what we did in spring, they’ve not forgotten that, so we just carry it on. We slow it down a little bit because we’ve got freshmen coming on and they practice with us. The freshmen will have to learn on the fly because we play in 71 days. So as fast as we can go — and that changes from day to day — we can say we want to do this again or we can move onto something else.”

Aug. 18 will usher in the eighth straight season the Bears have opened against a rival opponent. But Floyd acknowledged the team isn’t so much talking about the Mustangs as it is talking about the season in general, and working toward getting it going no matter who is on the opposite sideline.

“I don’t so much know that they talk about the opener as just the season. Obviously they are excited because it’s a rival we are playing. This will be the eighth straight year we’ve played a rival in the opener. We played Polk County six years, Walker Valley last year. We don’t really talk about the opponents as much as we talk about ourselves and make sure we can handle what we can handle. Aug. 18 will be what it is when it gets here,” said Floyd.

“I think they are just excited for the season. I don’t think they particularly like this time of year. It’s hot and they don’t want to spend their summer days here. We get that. We get in here and try to get our work done as quickly as we can, and move on.”

The sometimes tedious same old routine of the summer in the weight room and other team activities can become a burden physically and mentally on young athletes, whether they are struggling through their first summer session or are seasoned veterans. The coaches continually stress the importance of getting ready now, so when later arrives there will be no letdown or surprises. Floyd said the coaching staff constantly tries to impress on the rookies and veterans alike the need to understand games are won and lost during the summer workouts.

“I sure hope they understand. It’s something we do try to stress to them, but once again they’re kids,” Floyd reminded. “ I think the good thing is, this staff has been here for the most part for 11 years. Our older kids know what we want, and they kind of lead by example. That’s why they call us coaches, it’s our job to make sure that while they are here there is no joking around, they are here to work. Let’s get it and get out. I think our kids understand that for the most part. When we’re here, it’s business.

“Not only the kids, but the coaches are excited to get started again. I can’t believe it’s here. It gets here a little faster year after year.”

​Bears Spring Scimmages help find Depth

By Staff Reports

The Bradley Bears finished spring with positive showings in their scrimmages with Baylor and Soddy Daisy. The Bears came out on top in both scrimmages defeating the Red Raiders 4-2 on the road and the Trojans 8-3 in Bear Stadium. Offensively, the Bears looked strong and did not turn the ball over in either scrimmage while the defense shined getting two fumble recoveries and two goal line stands against each team, during the down and distance periods.

“Overall the coaching staff was really pleased with the effort and intensity from the players in both scrimmages. Defensively we were very physical and got a lot of guys to the football. We had a little trouble containing the quarterbacks at times, but Baylor and Soddy both have outstanding guys back there. Both Lorenzo White for Baylor and Justin Cook for Soddy can present problems for defenses when they break the pocket,” remarked Coach Floyd.

 “The positives were, we created some turnovers and bowed our neck a few times in the red zone. We were missing some guys defensively that are still in spring sports along with a few who are still recovering from injuries from last year, so we feel like we built some depth during this spring,” Coach Floyd added.

“Offensively we looked really good at times, but we have to keep working and improving to get to where we want to be. We have lots of playmakers on offense and we had seven different guys find the end zone during the scrimmages so that’s a big positive,” emphasized Coach Freeman.

“We really have some outstanding guys who play for each other and play unselfishly, that was good to see from a coaching staff perspective,” Coach Freeman added.

The Baylor scrimmage format was two rounds of 10 plays then down and distance the rest of the scrimmage. The defense held the Baylor offense to two touchdowns while recovering a fumble and getting a goal line stand during the down and distance portion of the scrimmage. Offensively, the Bears moved the ball consistently down the field scoring on four of its possessions.

The format for the Soddy scrimmage was one round of 10 plays then down and distance the rest of the scrimmage. The offense was clicking on all cylinders, scoring on each of its possessions. The defense slowed a very good Soddy Daisy offensive while holding them to three touchdowns on the day. The defense had a nice goal line stand during the first down and distance series to stall the Trojans at the eight yard line.

“The most import thing is we got through spring without any injuries and got to see a lot of guys on film to evaluate and make adjustments going into fall camp. We will give the guys a couple of days off, watch some film and get back to work for the summer next week, its go time, our first game will be here before you know it,” explained Coach Floyd.

Bradley Project Making Final Push

JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor

When the call went out last fall for a dire need to upgrade the fitness facilties at Bradley Central High School, Bear Nation responded.

Now with the second of three phases nearing completion, a push to raise the remaining needed funds is underway.

Without the use of any money from the Bradley County Schools system, the “Bear Down and Give” effort has brought in nearly $300,000 from private donations and fundraisers.

Another $40,000 is needed immediately to partially furnish the new facility so that it can begin to be used.

“We have our new building up and near completion, but now we need to cover the floor and get enough of the (weight) equipment purchased so that we can move in and start using it,” related Bradley Central athletic director Turner Jackson.

“What we are looking to do is get the floor covered ($15,000) and go ahead and purchase about half ($25,000) of the (weight) equipment,” added Bear head football coach Damon Floyd. “We will work on getting the funds to purchase the rest of the equipment after we get into the building.”

The new 50x100 metal building was constructed on the south end of the football practice field, next the Toby McKenzie Baseball Complex.

The plans also called for an upgrade of the current weight room facilities at the rear of Jim Smiddy Arena, in which more than a thousand students a day were sharing a 40x50 weight room.

The first phase was a $50,000 update to the existing area (the old band room), including replacing the flooring as well as eight new workout stations, featuring a bench and free weights in the center of the room, plus other various fitness equipment around the outer edges.

The second phase was the construction of the new building, on which ground was broken a couple of weeks ago. A concrete slab was poured, and the walls and roof of the facility went up quickly, with the installation of the windows and framing of the office and restroom taking place this week.

“We have the turf picked out for the center (of the floor area), but we are still trying to decide on the flooring for around the outside walls where the (weight) equipment will be,” related Floyd.

“The people have responded generously. We’ve raised over $295,000 so far and now we need to be able to start using the facility,” he added. “We have a ‘GoFundMe’ page link ( that people can go to and give. I’m asking for 2,000 people to give $20 each.”

Those wishing to help out can also drop off donations at the school’s office or by contacting one of the football coaches.

“This new facility will bring a lot of pride to the school,” commented Bradley County Director of Schools Dr. Linda Cash. “The coaches strive for what is best for the kids. The way the community has gotten behind this project and raised the funds has been tremendous. This is the strongest community I’ve ever worked with in stepping up when something is needed.”

Bradley’s “Bear Down and Give” fundraising effort got a big boost during last fall’s homecoming festivities when an anonymous donor agreed to match all contributions made during the game against Hardin Valley up to $15,000. The Black-and-Gold fans came through with more than $17,000 that evening, bringing the one-night effort to $32,753.

Don Ledford Automotive got into the spirit as well ,sponsoring an effort through the Buick Drive for Your Students program, which brought in another $10,000 when 552 people came to the school and test drove one of 15 new Buicks in one day. Each also received a certificate for a free oil change at the local dealership.

With a total projected cost of $384,500, the fundraising effort needs a strong push to finish things off.

“This is a project that is being completely funded by private donations and fundraisers, so there is no burden placed on school system funds,” remarked Floyd. “Our alumni and families have been amazing in the response to better our facilities, and we deeply appreciate it.”

Golf Tournament Set

By: Staff Reports 

The Annual Bradley Bear Football Golf Tournament has been set for Sunday Sept. 11th at Chatata Valley. Cost for the four man select shot tournament is 75 dollars per person. Those interested in entering or sponsoring should contact Mickey Clark at 423-716-2871.

Bears place Nine Players on All-Region

By Staff Reports:

Eight Bears were selected to the Region 1-6A All-Region team. Cole Copeland was selected as the Offensive Player of the Ye along with Seniors Tyler Carpenter (WR), Ryan Still (OLB) and Trevon Ware (Corner), junior Cason Still (S), and sophomores Jay Person (OLB), Lameric Tucker (WR), and Nick Howell WR/P) were honored with placement on the team. Jake Tolleson was selected to the All-Academic Team.

Cole Copeland, a Mr. Football Finalist, finished his junior season with 40 Touchdowns, 26 passing and 14 rushing bringing his career touchdowns to 82, with 26 rushing and 56 passing. Cole threw for 2,489 yards and rushed for 864 yards, bringing his career totals to 1,854 yards rushing and 5,105 yards passing. 

Tyler Carpenter, a first team best of preps, finished the season with 69 receptions for 1,184 yards and 14 touchdowns finishing his career with 132 receptions for 2,153 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Ryan Still, finished the season tied for first in tackles with 91; 46 solos, 46 assists, 8 sacks, 10 TFL, 1 INT, and 1 FUM REC. Ryan finishes his career with 169 tackles.

Trevon Ware, finished the season with 32 tackles; 24 solos, 8 assist, and 3 TFL. Trevon finishes his career with 76 tackles and 1 INT. 

Cason Still, finished the season with 61 tackles; 27 solos, 34 assists, 2 TFL and 1 INT. 

Jay Pearson, finished the season tied  for first in tackles with 91; 45 solos, 46 assits, 4 sacks 12 TFL, and 2 INT.

Lamerick Tucker, finished the season with 50 rec. for 551 yards and 6 TD's, 16 rushes for 98 yards and 1 TD.

Nick Howell, finished the season with 35 rec. for 455 yds and 2 TD's. 

Jake Tolleson, finished the season with 22 tackles; 8 solos, 14 assists, 1 sack and 2 TFL.

"We are very proud of these players who were selected by the other coaches in the region. Its an honor to be recognized by others for the hard work and dedication that these young men have put into the program," stated Coach Floyd.

     ​Copeland All-State Selection

RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor

Bradley Central Bears quarterback Cole Copeland received yet another accolade this week when he was named to the 6A All-State football team.

Copeland was a Tennessee Mr. Football semifinalist and was Offensive Player of the Year Region 1-6A. Cole was also a first team offensive selection to the Chattanooga Times Best of Preps.

While running the Bears' offense, Copeland completed 187 passes out of 281 attempts for 2,489 yards with a completion rate of 67 percent. The strong-armed QB found the end zone 26 times through the air and was picked off only six times.

The 6-foot-3 junior was also a serious threat on the ground when he tucked the ball and ran. Copeland carried 203 times for 862 yards averaging just over four yards per touch with 14 TDs. Bears head coach Damon Floyd has confidence enough in his field general to give him sole control of the offensive unit even to the point where he has the go to make checks at the line of scrimmage when he recognizes defensive formations.

“He, along with the rest of his family, are the ultimate competitors. I said before last season I wouldn't trade him for any quarterback in the nation,”said Floyd. “The sky is the limit for Cole. He has all the tools necessary to get him as far as he wants to go.”

The Bradley offensive star is being seriously recruited by Mississippi State, East Carolina, Temple and numerous Football Championship Subdivision schools.

Copeland comes by his skills honestly following brother Bryce — now at Lee University with the basketball Flames — and sister Brooke who stars for the Florida Lady Gators women's basketball team. The rest of the family including his father, mother and uncles have also made their names as Bradley Central sports stars.

“Cole comes by his skills naturally, said Floyd. “He is the only junior I have had in my 10 years of coaching voted team captain by his teammates. He leads by example most of all but became a more vocal leader this year. His leadership style has become different from his brother (who was also quarterback for the Bears). Bryce didn't say much at all he was a leader by his actions. Cole does a little more talking than Bryce did.”

 Alumni Honored .... Queen Crowned Money Raised


Homecoming for the 100th year of Bradley Central was filled with glamour and glitz, a victory over a Super 32 team, and a showing of support for Bear Pride. The night started with a presentation of helmets to three of the original member of the Loyal Bears Boosters club. Brian Copeland, the current Bear Boosters President presented an authentic Bear helmet to Lawrence Matthews, Ronald Rogers and Ralph Chase in appreciation for their dedication to Bear Athletics. The Bears appreciate their unwavering support throughout the years including a large investment they made in the early years of the Booster Club.

Throughout the game donations came in toward the new wellness center including a matching donation of $15,000. The Bears managed to raise over $32,000 over the course of the night.. There is still time to show your support for the Bears.

You can donate through the PEF and don’t forget you can participate in the Bear Down and Drive campaign by Don Ledford. Visit their site to pre-register for your test drive on Thursday October 22.

         Trevon Ware Signs with Bethel

JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor

When he visited the Bethel University campus, Bradley Central defensive back Trevon Ware knew he had found the place for him.

“It felt like the place to be for me. It felt like home,” the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder stated Wednesday after signing a national letter of intent to play for the Wildcats.

“It seemed like the same culture as I have here at Bradley,” he added. “When I sat down with the coaches, they had a great plan for me.”

Ware will be shifting from cornerback to free safety to utilize his 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

“He will make the adjustment well. We considered doing that with him here, but we needed him more at the corner,” declared Bear defensive coordinator Courtney Braswell. “Trevon is a tremendous competitor. He’s long and athletic with speed. He can cover a lot of ground.

“His improvement from his junior to his senior year was unbelievable,” Coach Bradwell remarked. “They (Bethel) got a good one.”

Bradley head coach Damon Floyd echoed the sentiment. “He has a great passion for the game. He worked really hard in the offseason. I’m really proud that he has reached his goal of playing on the next level.”

During his senior season with the state-ranked Bears, Ware had 32 tackles, 17 assists, five pass deflections, a pair of fumble recoveries, plus he blocked a punt and scooped it up for a 40-yard return for a touchdown against Science Hill.

“Playing at Bradley has been a great experience fo me. I’ve loved every minute of it,” Ware proclaimed. “I’m truly thankful to all my coaches who helped me get to this point.”

Bradley went 7-4 this past season, falling in the opening round of the TSSAA playoffs.

Located in McKenzie, Bethel is an NAIA school and a member of the Mid-South Conference.

The Wildcats went 4-7 last year and open the fall campaign on Aug. 27 against Missouri Baptist.

Ware intends to study business while at the West Tennessee school.

Help Bradley Athletics by giving to the "Bear Down and Give" fundraising campaign. Follow the Bear Down and Give link to make your contribution today.

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