Malady of miscues plague Bears in opener


FARRAGUT — The Bradley Central Bears got a lesson in Murphy's Law Friday night that they hope to soon forget.

"There's no way to sugar coat it, the self-inflected wounds killed us," declared veteran head coach Damon Floyd after his Bears turned the ball over eight times, including a half dozen in the first half, in a 34-0 embarrassment at Farragut.
"We're not going to point fingers at anybody. It's all our faults, from the coaches down. I didn't have us ready to play and that's on me.
"Believe it or not, there were some positives we can take from it," he added. "We'll come in Sunday as usual, watch the film together and try to learn from our mistakes. Then Monday, the focus shifts to Walker Valley."

The Mustangs will stampede into Bear Stadium Friday for the annual County Conflict, with both teams looking for their first victory of the new season.

"This game (at Farragut) will not define our season. We lost to them to open last year and went on to have a great year. Our goal now is we want to face them again in the playoffs."

Mr. Murphy's "what can go wrong, will go wrong" scenario plagued Bradley from the start Friday, with turnovers ending their first four offensive possessions. After receiving the opening kickoff, the initial miscue came on the fifth play of the night when Farragut's Tanner Corum made the first of his three interceptions on the evening. It briefly looked like the Admirals might also be in for a a long night when they fumbled the ball back three plays later when Bear sophomore Kins Hooper stripped the ball from a receiver and junior teammate Kam Arrowood pounced on it. However, Bradley gave it right back on the following snap, putting the ball on the turf on their own 22. The young Bear defense came up with a fourth-down stop at the 15 to prevent the hosts from scoring. However, three plays later, the pigskin was once again up for grabs and Farragut got it back just 16 yards from paydirt. This time they cashed in with a 13-yard dash by Kyle Carter, who finished with 182 yards on a dozen carries, including a pair of scores.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Bear offense got in sync and marched 54 yards in 10 plays, before the ball bounced off a receiver's hands into Corum's arms at the Admiral 17. Three big plays later found the end zone again on a 30-yard pass from junior Gavin Wilkinson to sophomore Matt White.

The Bradley offense once again responded with another impressive drive, this going 57 yards before Corum's third pick. The Bear defense, which gave up just four Admiral first downs in the opening half, was able to force the first Admiral punt, thanks in big part to an eight-yard  Hooper sack of Wilkinson, but once again the pigskin popped free on the first play, giving it back to the hosts.

Bradley's "D" answered the call again, giving up just two yards while forcing a three-and-out. With the resulting kick stopping inside the Bear 1 yard line, Bradley got a break on a punt attempt from it's own end zone when the Admirals were flagged for a pair of infractions, negating the change of possession.

Starting at their own 16, the Bears were able to move the ball to the Admiral 15 before an incomplete pass on a fourth-down play just before the halftime buzzer ended the march shy of paydirt.

"For us to have turned the ball over six times and only be down 13-0 at the half, we felt like we were still in it," related Floyd.

The Bear Nation, which had filled the visitor's bleachers despite a constant light rain throughout the contest, got excited to start the second half. A "pooch kick" recovered by the Bears at the Admiral 30, and a 25-yard pass from senior Dylan Standifer to junior Saylor Clark that "went to the house" on the second play had the Black-and-Gold faithful on their feet. However, one of 22 yellow flags thrown on the night pulled the points off the scoreboard. Bradley was unable to duplicate the touchdown, turning the ball over on downs at the 25.

A half dozen runs by Carter in a nine-play drive gave Farragut a 20-0 advantage before tacking on a pair of fourth-quarter scores, including a 80-yard "Pick 6" by White.

"Our offensive line actually played really well. We ran the ball efficiently," declared Coach Floyd as the Bears gained 320 yards on 44 carries and 16 completed passes.

"Ricky McCleary ran really well, especially for his first varsity start," he assessed the 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior's 95 yards on 19 carries.

Standifer finished with 27 yards on 10 rushed, plus completed 15-of-31 passes for 159 yards. Clark collected seven receptions for 93 yards on the evening, while Curry pulled in four for 46 yards. Although Bradley gave up five touchdowns, only three were sparked by the eight Bear turnovers.

"Our defensive guys bowed their backs several times," declared Floyd.

Senior Brandon Adams and junior Tucker Still led the Bear defenders with five solo tackles apiece, while senior Hayden Owenby had four and assisted on another, plus had a tackle for loss. The Bear malady of miscues was not a school record, as Coach Terry Sweeney's team in 1970 once coughed the ball up 10 times in a game. Friday's result was the first time the Bears have been shutout since Ooltewah did so in the sixth game of the 2014 season.

"We won't stop. We'll keep battling. We've said all fall that we will be a much better team by midseason than we are at the start," Coach Floyd proclaimed. "We have a lot of guys who are playing on Friday nights for the first time, so it will take a little while for them to get adjusted to it." 

New Bears Have Work To Do


For the 2018 Bradley Central football team, there is at least one known and expected strength to lean on as the kickoff to the season is 18 days away.

Scrambling out of the crowded pocket to extend plays downfield, senior Dylan Standifer connected with Saylor Clark and Tray Curry on deep passes to provide some of the top highlights from the Bears' 10th annual 6-way scrimmage Saturday evening.

With a brand-new offensive line, the state's second top passer in terms of QBR (138.2) last season and his dangerous wide receivers will have to improvise on any given Friday night.

"What Tray, Saylor and Dylan did tonight is what they will have to do all season," BC head coach Damon Floyd said. "Our quarterback is an all-state player and we expect him to lead the way. He handled the pressure well last season."

With a 6-foot, 4 1/2-inch frame, the 14-year-old Curry provided quite a thrill.

Moving with Standifer on the run down the right sideline, the explosive weapon got underneath the defense for a perfect strike and broke a tackle down the sideline for a score from 60 yards out.

The touchdown came against the reigning Class 5A state champion in Knox Catholic – a team chock-full of Division-I prospects on both sides of the ball.

Not playing 7-on-7 anymore, Curry impressed in full pads throughout the scrimmage as he scored five times in a two-hour span.

While a fellow all-state receiver in UTC's Lameric Tucker is gone after putting his footprint down as possibly the greatest receiver in Bradley Central history with the vast majority of all the records, sophomore Curry is set to shine in his own way.

"Tray does not have to be Lameric, because they are two totally different players," Coach Floyd said. "The good thing about him not having to be Lameric is he is Tray Curry, and he's a really good Tray Curry. He is a dynamic player and will have a lot of opportunities every Friday night. He is a player."

In the 6-way scrimmage each team got 10 plays on offense and defense, which was followed by a four-down red zone situation.

Curry also went over the top of two East Ridge defenders who provided a powerful hit, but he kept his feet in at the back right corner of the end zone. 

Talk about an opponent's nightmare on end zone fades, the Bears could possibly have one of the best in the greater Chattanooga area.

Along with the Fighting Irish from Knoxville and the Pioneers, Soddy-Daisy, McMinn Central and Hardin Valley also competed at Jimmy Lovell Field.

Bradley Central's defense came away with three turnovers during the scrimmage, which included a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery.

BC junior Ricky McCleary ran hard out of the backfield and broke a run of 25 yards down the left sideline as he flashed his cutting ability and speed.

While the team impressed at times, a lack of solid pass protection and missed tackles were noted.

"This is why we scrimmage," Floyd said. "There are a lot of things to fix. The good thing is we are playing with effort. We have to swarm to the ball carrier better and give our quarterback a cleaner pocket. Those areas have to be cleaned up."

As the Bears finished their first full week in pads, coaches are taking note of who is stepping up for a program coming back with a great deal of inexperience after a memorable 10-win 2017 campaign.

"Our guys need to understand the intensity and effort that comes with every rep," Floyd added. "You line up and go after it, then do it all over again. 

"Last year is last year. A lot of those guys are gone and that's fine. It's time for these guys to step up and for us to coach them up."

BC plans to watch film today to go with a short practice and some lifting, as preparation for a road scrimmage with Alcoa this Friday begins.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Bears will be going up against a reigning state champion.

The Tornadoes went 13-2 last season and beat Covington, 31-20, in the Class 3A state championship game.

"It will be a physical scrimmage and one we need," Floyd said. "Alcoa is a tough team always. We need to prepare ourselves with those type of teams to be ready for the regular season."

 2018 Football Schedule

Aug.  17   Farragut                 Away
Aug.  24   Walker Valley         Home  Aug.  31   Ooltewah*              Home
Sept.   7   Bye
Sept   14  Cleveland*              Away
Sept.  21   Rhea County         Away
Sept.  28   McMinn County*    Home
Oct.     4    Soddy Daisy          Home
Oct    12    Heritage*               Away
Oct.   19    William Blount*      Away
Oct.   26    Maryville*              Home

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Bears Heat up with 7 on 7


For Bradley Central's football program, the benefits of 7-on-7's are too good to pass on the air-attack scrimmages in the summer.

Especially after losing go-to leader Lameric Tucker along with the likes of Stephen Muhonen and Nick Howell on the offensive side, others are trying to step into leadership roles and provide steady hands for proven star QB Dylan Standifer.

"We are filling a lot of holes right now," head Bear Damon Floyd said after a 4-way scrimmage on a wet and muddy Jimmy Lovell Field Tuesday evening. "Our guys need the reps to get better and this is good for us. It gets intense at times, which is good for us too.

"They need that experience on the game field. Put them in situations where they have to make the catch for the first down or make a big stop on defense."

With exactly a month to go before season-opening kickoff for Bradley Central at Farragut, a strong field competed with the hopes of building experience and some good mojo.

Playing host to Austin-East, Heritage (Ga.) and Soddy-Daisy, the field of four teams had a combined record of 35 wins and just 13 losses last year.

Both the Bears and Roadrunners from Knoxville had similar past seasons as each went 10-3 overall and lost twice to one team: Maryville and Alcoa.

Over the past three seasons with head coach Jeff Phillips, Austin-East has gone 31-8 with runs to the state quarterfinals, semifinals and second round. 

In their deepest run in a 12-win 2016, talent ran wild for A-E as they outscored Hampton 74-50 in the second round of the playoffs.

"When you watch them play you can tell they have a lot of strong talent," Coach Floyd said. "Coach Phillips, who played at Chattanooga, does a good job with them. We went against them in the spring, too. We like seeing that athleticism because we know we will see that in the season too."

With roughy 110 players on the roster for Bradley Central right now, out of that group 18 starting spots will have to be replaced this season.

The entire defensive secondary is new for the Bears, as the only two starters on defense to return were linebacker Hayden Owenby (71 tackles, 4 sacks) and nose guard Parker Johnson (39 tackles, 2 sacks).

A pair of defensive backs for BC came up with big plays in 7-on-7s as junior Davion Dunn and senior Brandon Adams intercepted a pair of passes each.

On the left side of the field, Dunn intercepted a pair of passes including one where he out-battled a Soddy-Daisy receiver and came down with an impressive leaping pick to steal away a completion.

"It's good to see those guys make plays on the ball," Floyd said. "Davion sat out last year because he was a transfer and Brandon moved back from Michigan. Now, it is their turn. They have big shoes to fill like a lot of guys do, who have to step up to the challenge."

Bradley played perhaps its best scrimmage against Soddy on both sides of the ball.

Showing off his arm, Standifer found Saylor Clark for a score from 40 yards out with a perfectly placed over-the-shoulder heave to lead the junior into the right side of the end zone.

On the day it was Tray Curry and Clark who stood out on the receiving end, and they figure to be two major targets for a record-holding quarterback.

Curry, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound sophomore, was hard to guard for all teams involved with impressive speed, cutting and route-running ability.

For Floyd, making note of big plays, scores or statistics in 7-on-7 is not all that important as the time is more for development and to work on different passing routes or defensive coverages.

"We pay attention to the guys we see on a daily basis," Floyd said. "We know it's not going to be about one day or one play. It's a year-round effort, and, for some, three or four years."

Bradley will continue its 7-on-7 schedule this week with a contest on the road against Ridgeland (Georgia), another extremely talented program, which former Bradley Central defensive guru Courtney Braswell has taken over after an 11-1 record in 2017.

The Bears will also travel to UTC this Saturday for an all-day 7-on-7 scrimmage. Print