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​​Bradley Football 

Clark, Keeping the Tradition Alive


Saylor Clark is having a break out year for the Bears this season. Being the only returning starter at receiver from last year, Clark is ready to take on the responsibility of being the one of the go to guys this year.  

Being born with "Black and Gold" in his veins, Clark has extra motivation as well for a region battle that once had to be discontinued for several years due to emotions running a little too high.

"I have wanted to be a Bear ever since I knew what it meant when I was really little," Clark said. "I was a water boy for my uncle's (Chuck Clark) basketball team. It's a huge tradition. The rivalry game with Cleveland is one you always want to win at all costs."

Dylan Standifer has carried over a strong chemistry with the 6-foot-2 surehanded Clark, who reeled in five TDs last season with a crucial one coming in a 27-21 win at home over Cleveland.

Clark has 19 catches for 255 yards (13.4 ypc) with a pair of scores against Walker Valley and Ooltewah.

"The guys ahead of him in the past set the bar high so he would know what to expect," said BCHS head coach Damon Floyd. "Saylor takes every week personally. He is trying to win and is the ultimate competitor. This week against Cleveland he may have a little extra motivation, though."

Once a part of a deep pecking order in the BC wide receiver room, Clark is the current leader by example at the position, even for highly sought-after D1 target Tray Curry to learn from.

No matter what his personal stats may read after one of the biggest games of his life this Friday, victory is all  that matters to the true-blood Bradley standout.

"If I have zero catches and we win, that's great," Clark said. "I would take that over having 10 catches and losing any day. I am in this for the team. This is a huge region game."

Bears Nipped by Owls


Veteran local broadcaster Earl Rowan noted on the air before the Bradley Central-Ooltewah game, the last 18 winners of the rivalry has scored at least 28 points.

Unfortunately, for the Bears they only came up with 27 Friday night.

In a dose of déjà vu with a different ending, the Owls rallied for a trio of touchdowns in an 8 1/2-minute span for the 28-27 victory in the Region 2-6A opener for both teams.

Ooltewah made a similar run in last year's game on its home turf, but Bradley was able to hold on for the 42-35 win in 2017.

"Once again little things hurt us," declared Bear head coach Damon Floyd after Friday's heartbreaker.

"You can't have a holding penalty on a kickoff return that's going for a touchdown. You can't snap a ball over our quarterback's head. You've got to have a good snap on an extra point.

"It's frustrating because our kids are working so hard. We're not blaming anyone, but we made several mistakes throughout the game. We win as a team and we lose as a team.

"When you lose a close game, it's on the coaching, so this one's on me," the veteran mentor proclaimed, falling on the proverbial sword.

"We were up by 20 points early in the third quarter, but then gave up 21 points before the quarter was over.

"You've got to give Ooltewah credit. They made the plays they needed. They are a team you can't ever feel comfortable against, no matter how big of a lead you have.

"It's a tough loss. We're going to take off Monday because we have the bye week, but we would have done the same if we won. We've got to learn from our mistakes. When we get knocked down, we're going to get back up."

After getting a breather this week, Bradley (1-2 overall, 0-1 Region 2-6A) will prepare for the annual "Crosstown Clash" with Cleveland High (1-1, 1-0), which picked up its first win of the season with a 44-21 rolling over William Blount Friday. The Bears will invade Benny Monroe Stadium on Sept. 14.

Bradley struck quickly Friday evening, needing just a half dozen plays to find paydirt.

Opening the 80-yard scoring march with a trick play, freshman Aiden McCleary threw a halfback pass to senior Ethan Vaughn for a 28-yard gain.

On the other end of the field, the Bears' first score was the more familiar connection between senior QB Dylan Standifer and junior receiver Saylor Clark for a 30-yard scoring strike with just 2:38 gone off the clock.

After the Bradley defense forced the visitors to give the ball back with a three-and-out, the Black-and-Gold moved the ball across midfield again, but Owl defensive back Chase Sanders picked off a pass and returned it 50 yards to the Bear 22 to end the threat.

Three plays later, the visitors evened the score with a 12-yard pass from senior Kyrell Sanders to classmate Tahj Cargle.

After the teams traded punts, Bradley put together a 13-play drive covering 77 yards with Standifer and Clark connecting for 28 and 10 yards, the latter of which put the ball at the one yard line, from where the Bear signal caller punched it in.

The hosts tacked on another score on their next possession, going 68 yards on seven plays.

Senior Parker Johnson broke free on a 35-yard jaunt for his first varsity touchdown before classmate Clay Shoemaker put the Bears up 21-7 just 68 seconds before the halftime horn.

After the intermission, senior Kahlil Lamberth recovered Shoemaker's pooch kick at the Owl 32.

After a surprise 35-yard pass to senior Cole Reyher, Standifer and Clark hooked up again for a five-yard score just 54 seconds into the second half.

However, on the extra point attempt, Standifer (who is the Bear holder) had to scoop up the ball and scramble to get a pass attempt off, which was knocked away from the receiver.

The 20-point deficit didn't deter the Owls, who had lost 35-34 the previous week on a failed two-point conversion at Science Hill.

The boys in Red-and-Grey scored on their next three possessions, with senior speedster Sincere Quinn carrying the ball in on runs of 19 and three yards before Sanford found Fisher Perry with a 16-yard scoring pass with :00.7 on the third quarter clock.

Ooltewah's standout kicker Braeden Haynes provided what turned out to be the game-winning point by splitting the uprights for the fourth straight time.

After Quinn's first score, Bradley fans were brought to their feet when senior Ricky McCleary returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to paydirt, but a holding block was flagged 15 yards behind him.

With the points taken off the scoreboard and the ball pushed back to their own 47 after the penalty, the next snap sailed over Standifer's head and he recovered it just before an Owl defender for a 22-yard loss. The Ooltewah defense forced a punt three plays later.

Neither team could find the end zone in the final quarter, while the Bears penetrated to the Owl 32 once and the visitors drove to the host's 29.

Getting the ball back with just over 35 seconds remaining, the Bears went deep across the middle, but Owl linebacker Malachi Quinn picked it off and returned it 34 yards to the Bear 6. Ooltewah took a knee to let the clock run out on its 19th victory in 32 meetings with the Bears.

While the Bradley defense held the explosive Sincere Quinn to just 81 yards on 17 touches, Sanford did the main damage, connecting on 20-of-28 passes for 163 yards, plus rushing 13 times for 107 yards.

Standifer countered with 67 yards on 10 carries, plus going 19-for-30 through the air for 190 yards. Clark pulled in seven aerials for 86 yards and a pair of scores.

Defensively, senior Hayden Owenby led the Bears with 10 tackles, including four solos, a tackle for loss and a sack.

Reyher made seven solo tackles, assisted on a couple more with a pair of TFL and a sack of his own.

Sophomore Cam Creighton had eight total hits, including five solos, while classmate Kins Hooper had a trio of solos in five tackles, with one coming behind the line of scrimmage.

Junior Kam Arrowood was also in on five tackles, four of which were solo take downs, one for a loss.

Bradley was without sophomore standout receiver/defensive back Tray Curry, who received his third NCAA D-I offer this week from Virginia.

"Tray has a high ankle sprain and can't run right now, hopefully with two weeks before we play again he'll be ready to go," explained Coach Floyd.

"When somebody's out, it's the next man up. We expect them to play just as hard as the guy they're replacing.

"We are going to keep improving," he assessed. "Overall we clicked a lot, but we had a few key mistakes."

Bear JV Wrap Up Unbeaten Season


The season came to a close for the Bradley junior varsity football team on Monday night, when they rolled to another blowout win with a 41-6 victory over the McMinn Central Chargers at Bear Stadium.

The win completes back-to-back seasons without a blemish on their record. This year’s team ran off six consecutive wins without a close match.

The Bears averaged 43.8 points per game while surrendering only 12.8 defensively, an average margin of  31.0 ppg in each win.

The season began with their closest game when they knocked off Walker Valley 32-21 at BCHS, and they followed that game with another big win over cross-town rival Cleveland in a 42-12 blowout on Raider Field.

With Rhea County cancelling their encounter with the Bears due to bad weather, the Cherokees of McMinn County fell victim to the fresh legs of a staggering Bear offense and relentless defense in a 55-7 win.

The seemingly unstoppable offense then cruised to a 49-19 victory over the Trojans of Soddy-Daisy before whipping the Owls of Ooltewah 44-12 to improve to 5-0 before Monday evening's encounter with the Chargers.

Coach Isaac Robison and his staff feel they have prepared the Bears well for the future, with the expectation that they’ll carry over their success to the varsity level. 

Coach Robison is very proud and said, “We take great pride in our JV program and make coaching them up and helping them improve a real priority. Our overall speed at the skill positions was the difference week in and week out, as the offense made dozens of big plays throughout the season. Defense terrorized opposing offenses every week with relentless pride and effort. 

“This kind of success at the JV level is so important, because that winning attitude and the skills they learn on the JV team translates to wins on Fridays. I would especially like to thank my offensive coordinator Tyler Pope and defensive coordinator Garrett Payne for their contributions to our success” he mentioned.

Bradley varsity head coach Damon Floyd will be tasked with replacing  over 20 seniors on this year’s roster, similar numbers to what he dealt with replacing for the 2018 season. That will make for a challenge for the longtime Bear mentor, but one Coach Floyd and his staff are certainly capable of accepting.

Coach Floyd is well aware of what the JV staff and team mean to his future success, noting, “The great job that Coach Robison and his staff do throughout the JV season helps future varsity players understand what it takes to be successful under the Friday night lights. Much of our recent success can to attributable to the effort they put into coaching our kids about the ‘Bear’ way of playing with character, effort, honored tradition and relentless price.” 

Bears Click on all Cylinders


What head coach Damon Floyd has been preaching all season finally sunk in as his Bradley Central squad came out strong from the opening kickoff and rolled to an impressive victory over Soddy-Daisy in a special Thursday night game at Bear Stadium.

"It was one of those nights where everything came together," the veteran "Papa Bear" proclaimed after the 42-8 mauling of the Trojans.

"We came out a lot better than we have been. We were clicking from the start. This was a really good win for us from start to finish.

"Dylan (Standifer, Bradley's all-state QB) was on fire. He was making good reads at the line and got the ball into the hands of the guys who did something with it,

Floyd said of his offense's 507-yard performance.

"Defensively, we got after it pretty good. Running is their forte, but we were able to shut that down (only 38 yards on 29 carries, including a minus nine yards in the second half) and when they went to the air we were able to make the adjustments on the fly."

For the second straight week, the "Black Hole Defense" gave up less that 190 yards of total offense and just one touchdown.

Now 5-2 overall, Bradley will finish up the regular season with a trio of Region 2-6A games, heading to Blount County the next two weeks to face Heritage (0-7, 0-3) and William Blount (2-5, 1-3) respectively, before welcoming the defending state champion Maryville squad to Bear Stadium, for what could be for the region title on Oct. 26.

The Bears are currently 2-1 in region play, putting them in third place behind Maryville (6-1, 3-0) and Ooltewah (5-1, 2-0). The Owls face McMinn County (3-3, 1-2) tonight in Athens.

Bradley scored on its first four possessions Thursday evening, getting a pair of touchdowns in each of the first two quarters.

After holding Soddy-Daisy (3-3) to just a single first down after the opening kickoff, the Bears needed just three plays to find paydirt.

Sophomore Tray Curry connected with junior Ashton Boyd for 38 yards on a halfback pass to open the drive. After a 10-yard scramble by Standifer, the senior signal caller found junior Saylor Clark for a 34-yard score, the duo's seventh TD pairing of the season.

After the Trojans got stuffed on a fake punt at the Bear 45 on the ensuing possession, Standifer found Boyd for a 44-yard scoring strike four plays later.

Junior Davion Dunn set up the next Bear score with an interception, but the hosts had to put together an 11-play, 94-yard march with Standifer sneaking over from the 1 for the touchdown. 

Standifer and Clark had teamed up for a 34-yard gain and junior Ricky McCleary sprung loose on a 26-yard run to help move the ball down the field on the drive. 

Soddy's lone score of the evening came after the ensuing kickoff, with a 12-play, 70-yard march with Isaac Barnes capping from 11 yards out.

Bradley answered immediately, driving 78 yards on seven plays, including receptions of 27 and 37 yards by senior Ethan Vaughn, before McCleary did the honors from three yards out.

The Bears opened the second half the same way they had played the first, taking the kickoff and going 65 yards on nine plays for a second McCleary score, this one for five yards. The Bear running back finished the night with 85 yards on 18 carries and raised his season TD total to seven. 

Standifer and Clark connected twice on the drive for 51 yards.

The final score of the evening came with 5:15 on the game clock with senior Parker Johnson capping an eight play, 51-yard march, bobbing-and-weaving his way in from the 15 yard line.

Standifer finished the victory over his former hometown school with 17-of-24 for 281 yards and a pair of scores through the air, plus ran the rock eight time for another 75 and a TD.   

The Bears had a pair of 100-yard receivers as Clark hauled in four catches for 119 yards, while Vaughn pulled in five for 103.

Curry had 112 total yards with a half dozen receptions for 51 yards, a pair of carries for a dozen more, plus his 39-yard pass completion to Boyd.

Defensively, Bear junior safety Tucker Still led the way with five solo tackles and a pair of assists, while senior linebacker Hayden Owenby was in on a half dozen hits, four of which were solos, plus one was for a loss.

Senior captain VJ Garth made three of his five tackles behind the line of scrimmage, while classmate Cole Reyher was in on a half dozen takedowns.

Senior Clay Shoemaker was true of his four extra-point kicks, while backups Mark Churyuk and Randy Schneck also split the uprights, marking the first time in at least 40 years three different Bear kickers booted PATs in the same game.

Cole Reyher, The Bears Mr. Do It All


There is a time in every athlete's career they remember the most.

For do-it-all Bradley Central senior Cole Reyher, his 65-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown is a moment he will play over and over again in his head.

Reyher's all-out hustle and heads-up play provided a major difference in a 42-35 road victory last Friday over Rhea County, which led by two scores at halftime.

"My coaches kept telling me to 'get flat and fast' down the line, and tackle the 'dive' play," Reyher said. "I was trying to get down the line. I saw the ball pop out and took advantage. I was excited to make a big play that really sparked our team."

While a fumble may have sat in just the right place for Reyher to take for six points, the opportunity was perhaps destined for a player who has done whatever he's been asked over his career.

As a freshman he logged time right away under the bright lights as a snapper and on the kickoff team.

For the past three seasons, he has been the Bears' long snapper and the leading tackler on special teams.

"Cole is very dependable," Bradley head coach Damon Floyd said. "He was actually a starter on defense then he hurt his shoulder his sophomore year. He couldn't lift weights for sixth months, but he was still our long snapper. He never complained, and battled for us."

Earning his helmet stickers by de-cleating opponents with hits on special teams is something Reyher enjoys even now as a standout, every-down starting linebacker as well.

"I just hustle. It's all a mental thing," Reyher says. "You go out there and go as hard as you can every play. I have a clear lane after I snap the ball. The linebackers may try to pick me up, but I try to get down there as fast as I can to make a play."

Reyher came up big in the Cleveland-Bradley rivalry game this year as well.

After smacking down a talented punt returner in David Dorsey, a few plays later he recorded a sack to end a drive on the way to a 32-14 victory for his team's fourth straight win over the Blue Raiders.

Reyher's season high in tackles is 11 and he has 45 tackles on the season, which includes five tackles for loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown.

"He is at full strength and is showing us the kind of player he is," said Floyd of his team's second-leading tackler. "We believe you reap what you sew. He shows up and has done his job since the day he got here as a freshman.

"He is a dependable guy and a very good tackler. He fits everything we want in a linebacker and a special teams guy as well."

Bradley (3-2, 1-1 Region 2-6A) has five games left on the schedule with McMinn County (3-2, 1-1 2-6A) visiting Jimmy Lovell Field this week.

Reyher figures to once again play a key factor in multiple areas as the Bears try to halt a much improved Cherokee squad.

With a determination to bring the ball carrier down, the smart and heads-up Bear has 125 tackles (12 TFL), five sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception (vs. Farragut) in his memorable career.

Playing with a love for the school he hits the field for, he hopes even bigger moments are to come for his senior class, a group which is 29-13 overall and one of the winningest groups in BC history.

"There is nothing else like Bradley football," Reyher said. "You come out here and work hard for your teammates, coaches, family and school. I learned a lot watching the seniors when I was a freshman. You go out there and don't stop. I want to keep stepping up for my team."

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."

Bear Attack Rips Mountainers


MARYVILLE — It's hard not to be completely thrilled with a 47-point victory, but Bradley Central football coach Damon Floyd saw some things that caused him concern at the foot of the Smoky Mountains in eastern Blount County Friday evening.

"I don't think we executed very well on offense early on," the veteran "Papa Bear" proclaimed after a 54-7 thrashing of winless Heritage. It was the most points Bradley has scored since defeating Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett 56-42 just over two years ago (10/9/16).  

"We played our best game of the season last week (a 42-8 win over Soddy-Daisy) and then we didn't show up this week ready to play.

"We had a lot of things to overcome, that we shouldn't have had to overcome, but we got the win on the road in a region game, so that's what counts," he assessed. "We made it hard on ourselves with a lot of penalties (13 for 160 yards, compared to just five flags for 48 against the hosts). It's a frustrating part of the game, but we were able to overcome it."

The lopsided victory keeps the Bears in the hunt for the Region 2-6A crown, plus puts them  in position to nail down their ninth straight TSSAA playoff berth with a win over William Blount (3-5, 2-3 Region 2-6A) this week in Maryville.

Bradley is now 6-2 overall and 3-1 in region play to currently hold down the No. 3 spot in the league standings.

Defending state champion Maryville (7-1, 3-0), the state's top-ranked 6A team, blanked Ooltewah (6-2, 3-1) 42-0 Friday evening and will be making a trip to Bear Stadium for potentially a league title battle Oct. 26. The Owls, who own a 28-27 win over Bradley, would need to fall to Cleveland High Friday or at Heritage in the regular season finale to make the Bear-Red Rebel clash a true region championship matchup.

Seven different players scored Bradley's eight touchdowns Friday, three of which have the same last name: Clark.

It was no surprise when junior wideout Saylor Clark pulled in his ninth TD pass of the season on a 16-yard toss from all-state QB Dylan Standifer for the night's initial score with 1:17 left in the opening frame.

The other two Clark scores came from brothers Easton and Braydon, making their first varsity scores in the second half.

Easton, a senior defensive end, had a 14-yard scoop-and-score with a fumble recovery in the third frame, while sophomore Braydon was sent in as a punt returner and took the rock 62 yards to the house to close out the game's scoring with 7:03 left to play.

The pair became the first Bear brothers to score in the same game since Brian and Chad Copeland did so in 1987.

Junior running back Ricky McCleary exploded for 184 yards on 17 carries, including scoring runs of 52 yards and one yard to bring his team-leading total to 10 touchdowns so far this season. He also had a five-yard reception.

"Our offensive line was able to get a good push and open some holes for Ricky (McCleary) to have a big night, which we thought we could do," stated Coach Floyd.

"Ricky did take advantage of what they gave him and could have had an even bigger night if we hadn't had some of those self-inflected wounds with penalties that got some good plays called back. The first three first downs we got, were called back due to penalties.

"Ricky runs hard and our offensive line got better in the second half," the Bear mentor added.

Standifer once again posted an impressive stat line, completing 17-of-24 passes for 236 yards and a trio of TD tosses. 

NCAA D-I prospect Tray Curry also had a strong showing with 104 yards on a half dozen catches and a rush. The 6-foot-5 sophomore was able to turn a swing pass into a 42-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Just afterwards, the "Black Hole Defense" got interceptions from Cole Reyher and Kam Arrowood on back-to-back Mountaineer offensive plays that set up a pair of touchdowns 30 seconds apart.

McCleary covered 22 yards on three straight runs to cash in Reyher's pick, while Standifer found senior Ethan Vaughn, who had four catches for 91 yards, for a 42-yard touchdown on the first play after Arrowood's takeaway.

After leading 26-7 at the intermission, Bradley got the first of four second-half scores when sophomore linebacker Kins Hooper continued his big hits, stripping the ball free as he sacked the Mountaineer QB, leading to the older Clark brother's scoring dash.

McCleary, who now has 751 yards on 132 rushes (5.7 ypc), tacked on the other third quarter TD, bobbing-and-weaving his way for his 52 yards to paydirt.

Senior Parker Johnson accounted for his fourth score of the campaign early in the final frame, capping a six-play 58-yard drive with a one-yard plunge.

Senior place kicker Clay Shoemaker split the uprights on 4-of-5 extra points attempts, while classmate Rand Schneck booted through 2-of-3 PATs.

"Defensively, we played pretty well. We were able to shut down their running game (29 carries for only one net yard), plus we turned three turnovers into touchdowns," praised Coach Floyd, who is also the Bear D-coordinator. "Our special teams also played well."

 Bears Slosh Past Tribe


The biggest obstacle Bradley Central faced Friday evening wasn't the Jimmy Lovell Field bog or the fierceness of the Cherokees from McMinn County, but it was between the Bears' own ears.

"I didn't like the way we came out in the first half. We've got to wake up and realize we just can't walk onto the field and win," declared veteran head coach Damon Floyd after the 21-7 important Region 2-6A victory.

"We keep putting ourselves in that situation. It shouldn't have been 7-7 at halftime. The kids have got to understand when we take the field, it's got to be intense every time. We've got to do our jobs. We didn't do that in the first half.

"It's game No. 6 and it's still the little things that are costing us. We can't beat ourselves," he summarized. "The most important thing is we got the win.""

With both teams scoring in the final 95 seconds of the opening half, the difference came when the hosts were able to put a pair of third-quarter scores on the board, while the Bear defense held the Athens Tribe scoreless for the final 24 minutes.

The victory keeps the Bears in the hunt for the Region 2-6A title and a leg up on securing a playoff spot for the ninth straight year.  

"We've got to keep winning (for region position) and take it one game at a time," Floyd clichéd.

Bradley is now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in region play, tying them for third place with Cleveland (3-3, 2-1), whom they own a 32-14 victory over.

For a shot at the 2-6A crown, the Bears need a little help as both Ooltewah (5-1, 2-0) and top-ranked Maryville (5-1, 2-0) are unbeaten in league play.

The Owls have a tough row to hoe with trips to McMinn County (3-3, 1-2) and Maryville, followed by hosting Cleveland over the next three weeks.

The defending state champion Rebels will entertain the Blue Raiders Thursday before hosting the Owls. Maryville will wrap up the regular season with a trip to Bear Stadium for what could decide the region title (Oct. 26).

After the Bear offense shot itself in the foot with turnovers to end their first two offensive possessions Friday evening, the "Black Hole Defense" rose to the occasions with a three-and-out and forcing a fumble that senior Kahlil Lamberth recovered at the 1 yard line to prevent a score.

The game's first score didn't come until Bradley's final possession before the half. Taking over on their own 21 after an Owl punt, Bear all-state QB Dylan Standifer led the seven-play drive with runs of 20, 10 and eight yards, plus hit favorite target Saylor Clark for five- and 33-yard gains.

Senior Ricky McCleary finished off the scoring march with runs of six and two yards to find paydirt. Senior Clay Shoemaker made the first of his three extra-point kick with 1:35 on the first half clock.

Faced with no time outs, the Cherokees were able to get off eight plays, including a 31-yard run by sophomore Jalen Hunt.

Sophomore signal caller Will Moore took the final snap with just two tenths of a second on the clock and was able to score on a five-yard run. Frederico Bannuelos tied the game with a PAT before the teams headed to the locker rooms.

After nice halftime "chat," the Bears came out strong, scoring on their first two offensive possessions while the defense held the Tribe to just 34 total yards over the final 24 minutes.

"Our defense played well except for right there before the half," assessed Floyd. "(Cole) Reyher's interception and Lamberth's fumble recovery at the 1 (yard line) were big plays that really helped us. We did a good job stopping the run and getting turnovers."

After forcing a three-and-out with tackles behind the line for seven- and 11-yard losses in the opening series, Bradley needed just three plays to cover 50 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning score.

Standifer was able to break free on a QB sweep for 42 yards to paydirt with 3:20 gone in the period.

Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Reyher, who returned a fumble recovery 65 yards for a score at Rhea County the previous week, picked off a Tribe aerial and returned to the McMinn 32.

Seven plays later, Standifer found Clark in the right corner of the end zone for a 16-yard scoring strike.

The senior signal caller had a strong effort, completing 11 passes for 113 yards, plus carrying the ball 13 times for 86 more.

Clark pulled in 10 of those receptions for 102 yards, while McCleary totted the rock 17 times for 70 yards.

Sophomore D-I prospect Tray Curry was utilized mainly from the backfield with a total of nine touches for 36 yards.

Defensively, Cam Arrowood was in on eight tackles, including four of his six solos coming behind the line of scrimmage, including a sack.

Lamberth helped out on eight hits as well with a half dozen solos and the big fumble recovery, while Hayden Owenby had four solos and two TFL.

"We did what we could to get things ready, but our field condition were horrible tonight," Floyd related. "It was straight mud in spots, but they (McMinn) had to play on it as well."

Bradley now holds the edge in the third-longest continuous rivalry in the state by a 54-39-3 margin. The Bears and Cherokees have played every year since 1927.  

With fall break Oct. 8-12, Bradley will have a quick turnaround this week as Soddy-Daisy comes to town Thursday evening.

"We don't have much time to get ready for a Soddy team that can score a lot of points," the Bear coach commented.

The battle with the Trojans is the final non-region contest for the Bears this season, with back-to-back league road trips to Maryville to face William Blount and Heritage before the Red Rebels come rolling into town to wrap up the 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

Bears Pluck Eagles

Sports Editor

EVENSVILLE — For the last decade plus five years, the clashes between the Bradley Central Bears and Rhea County Golden Eagles have been a series of streaks. The first seven games of the sequence ended in wins for Rhea. The last eight victories belong to the Bears, including an epic comeback in the most recent battle Friday night at Rhea County.

With less than a minutes left to play, the Bears (3-2), after putting 28 second-half points on the board, took their first lead of the game and walked away with win No. 3 of the season and the eighth in a row over the Golden Eagles (3-2) by a score of 42-35.

After falling behind by 14 points in the first half and being pushed around by the Rhea County offense, a different team came back from the Bradley locker room in the third quarter. The Bears offense and defense gave the Rhea County back everything it had taken in the first two quarters and then some.

“They were whipping us,” said Bears coach Damon Floyd of the first half. “We were helping them because they would go unbalanced and we couldn’t line up correctly to it. We didn’t recognize formations. The bottom line is, the second half we didn’t make any adjustments (defensively) we just said, ‘recognize the formation, read the key and do your job.’ We did a better job of that in the second half.”

The Bradley skipper — 6-0 against Rhea County — said the extra sweet win is so far the biggest of the season.

“I don’t think there is any doubt with the situation we’re in,” said Floyd in his 13th year as Bears head coach. “It was against us for two-and-a-half quarters then we flipped it.”

The Eagles, after forcing a Bradley opening possession punt, took an early 7-0 lead on their first drive of the night. The Bears responded with a 11-play march that saw Parker Johnson cover the final 12 yards to make it a 7-7 game. The Bears overcame a penalty that erased a score on the previous play.

Rhea scored once more with just over four minutes left in the second quarter and took a 14-7 lead into halftime.

The Eagles opened the second half as they did in the first two quarters by staying on the ground. An 80-yard opening drive that chewed up more than six minutes of clock culminated in a 21-7 lead.

The Bears, who found some chinks in the Eagles’ armor at halftime, quickly responded by moving 92 yards in seven plays to close the margin to 21-14. Quarterback Dylan Standifer helped the cause with a 13-yard gallop then found Saylor Clark open for 20. Standifer dropped back one more time with three minutes left in the third to find Clark open again, this time for 37 yards and a touchdown.

The excitement didn’t stop there for the Bears. On the second play of the next Rhea County possession, Bradley linebacker Cole Reyher scooped up an Eagle fumble and rumbled 65 yards in the opposite direction for the second Bears TD in less than two minutes The missed extra point made it a 28-27 game.

“Offensively we did (make adjustments). We were really sure what they were doing with us. They played us differently than what we saw on film and the coverages were mixing it up a little bit,” recalled Floyd. “Coach (Matt) Moody (offensive coordinator) and the offensive staff were able to scheme up some things that’s why we kept doing ‘check with me’ at the line of scrimmage. We saw what they were in and we were able to connect some.”

With halftime adjustments paying off for Bradley offensively, the fight was on in the fourth quarter. The Eagles took a 28-20 lead on their next touch only to watch 21 seconds later as Standifer found a leaping Clark down the left sideline for a 73-yard pitch and catch. The Bears tied the game at 28-28 with the two-point conversion.

Rhea County again took the lead after a long kick return then scoring from a yard out.

Tray Curry answered for the Bears with a 31-yard return on the ensuing kick to the Bears’ 41-yard line. After connecting with Clark for two earlier scores, Standifer found a wide open Ethan Vaughn with a 33-yard scoring pass that knotted the score at 35-35 with seven minutes left in the game.

The Bradley defense put a stamp to the scoring spree on Rhea’s next possession, but gave the ball back with an interception. The Bears’ defense stood strong once again and coerced another Eagles punt after an equipment malfunction sent Rhea starting quarterback Zack Pemberton to the sideline. With Pemberton watching from the sideline, back-to-back motion penalties resulted in a punt where the Bears took over at their own 43-yard line with 1:28 on the clock.

Ricky McCleary and Standifer chewed up 22 yards on a carry apiece before Standifer connected with Clark for 18 yards to the Rhea County 5-yard line. From there, Standifer took the snap and scurried to his left covering the distance to put the Bears on top for the first time in the game. Clay Shoemaker’s extra point made it 42-35 with 43 seconds left.

“You get in some of those games throughout the season. This happened to be one of them. I was happy to see our kids stick together and fight,” Floyd said of the fourth-quarter scoring binge.

“The offense got us going. Once they scored we finally had a little emotion. You have to give credit to Rhea County because they came out from the get-go and were putting it on us,” Floyd said. “Our team stuck together ‑ no other way to put it. It’s always blocking and tackling, but tonight it was team. They care for each other.”

Bradley Maul Mustangs


Veteran head coach Damon Floyd told his Bradley Central squad to forget last week's aberrational performance in Knoxville and start the season fresh. That's just what his 10th-ranked "sleuth" did when cross-county rival Walker Valley came to Bear Stadium Friday evening.

After getting shutout for just the second time in a decade by eighth-ranked Farragut the week before, Bradley bounced back big, putting 43 points on the scoreboard, two of which were for the Mustangs.

While the Black-and-Gold defense completely corralled the young Herd from the north end of the county, the only points for the visitors in the 41-2 outcome came on a Bear miscue that resulted in a safety.

"We're obviously happy with the win, but we still had several mistakes we need to correct," proclaimed Floyd, who is now 13-1 in "County Conflicts" against the Mustangs.

"We did a lot of good things, but honestly I'm frustrated some because there's a lot of little things we didn't — too many penalties, missed blocks, missed tackles, missed assignments. It's a good win, but there's a lot of stuff we still have to fix.

"We've got to be more consistent, especially next week," he assessed.

While the Bears (1-1) will entertain Ooltewah (1-1) in the Region 2-6A opener, Walker Valley (0-2) will make its third straight road trip, heading across the Tennessee River to Rhea County (1-0) Friday.

The Owls are coming off a hard-fought 35-34 loss at 13th-ranked Science Hill, while the 14th-ranked Golden Eagles breezed past Brainerd 35-14.

Wanting to get the bad taste our of their mouths from the previous week, Bradley wasted no time, scoring on its first two possessions Friday.

After sophomore Tray Curry returned the opening kickoff to the Bear 39, all-state quarterback Dylan Standifer hit junior Saylor Clark for a quick seven yards to the left sideline before swinging the ball to Curry in the right flat for what appeared to be a 54-yard touchdown.

However, the side judge said Curry stepped out of bounds at the 10 and a five-yard penalty before the next snap moved the ball back to the 15.

Junior Ricky McCleary scampered for five yards before Curry, who received an offer to play for Virginia Tech earlier in the day, ran it in from 10 yards out on a jet sweep.

After the Bear defense forced the first of seven three-and-outs on the night, Bradley needed just five plays to find paydirt again, this one on a perfectly thrown 36-yard bomb from Standifer to senior Ethan Vaughn, who caught it in stride at the goalline with just 3:43 gone off the game clock.

The hosts also put points on the board in their next offensive possession, but it was for the wrong team.

Forced to punt from its own 17, the Bear snap sailed over Standifer's head and bounced through and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

Bradley tacked on a second-quarter score after senior Parker Johnson stripped the ball lose on a sack and classmate Kahlil Lamberth recovered the Mustang fumble.

Putting together an eight-play drive that covered 55 yards, Standifer carried the ball in from the 1 with 2:45 on the clock for a 20-2 halftime advantage.

After the band performances during the intermission, the Bears found the end zone three more times, while holding the Mustangs to just one net rushing yard in the second half.

Standifer and Clark hooked up on a pair of 29-yard touchdown tosses, the first coming right after senior Cole Reyher recovered a Herd fumble on a muffed punt return attempt.

"Dylan (Standifer) had a big game connecting with Saylor (Clark) and Tray (Curry). Last week they were out of sync, but tonight they looked much better. This isn't 7-on-7 or scrimmages, so it's a little different and they'll get better together as we get them more reps on Friday nights."

Standifer completed 13-of-17 passes for 202 yards and a trio of scores. Clark and Curry both hauled in seven receptions for 76 and 79 yards respectively. 

The other Bear score came on a 26-yard dash by McCleary, who finished with career-high 141 yards on 17 carries.

"Ricky ran the ball well and our offensive line did a good job for the most part," praised Coach Floyd.

"Defensively, we were able to get them into a lot of long yardage situations. We had to adjust some of our gap assignments in the second half and that really helped."

Reyher finished with eight solo tackles, including a pair behind the line of scrimmage and a sack.

Senior linebacker Hayden Owenby was in on a half dozen hits, including four solos, a sack and a TFL. Junior Kam Arrowood collected five tackles, with a sack.

The Bear defense sacked the Mustang QB a half dozen times while surrendering just 190 yards of total offense.

Walker Valley signal caller Griffin Broome completed 16-of-29 passes for 133 yards, but was held to just 21 yards on 23 carries.

Junior Eli Hancock topped the 'Stang receiving corp with seven catches for 82 yards, while Reid Gibson and Brody Swafford pulled in four and three receptions for 29 and 28 yards respectively.

Senior Clint Davis led the WV defense with 11 total tackles, including seven solos, while sophomore Skyy Craig was right behind him, also with seven solos in 10 tackles.

Junior Kellar Carson made eight total hits, with a pair of sacks, while senior Chris Crenshaw, plus sophomores Kallum Lowe and Christian Vandusen were in on seven hits apiece. Crenshaw also had 1.5 sacks, plus he and Vandusen made two TFL apiece.

After getting 90 yards on a dozen carries the week before in a 40-28 loss to Chattanooga Central, sophomore Heath Tanksley was held to only 39 yards on 12 rushes.

"We bounced back well after the way we played the first week," remarked Floyd. "This was a good way to turn it around and get ready for the rest of the season, especially with the region starting next week."

Bears Secure 9th Straight Play-off Berth


MARYVILLE — Back-to-back trips to Blount County produced very similar stats and a pair of lopsided victories as Bradley Central secured its ninth straight trip to the TSSAA playoffs Friday evening.

Overcoming slow starts, the Bears (7-2, 4-1 Region 2-6A) rallied for a 38-7 runaway victory over William Blount (3-6, 2-4) Friday to pair with the previous week's 54-7 mauling of winless Heritage (0-9, 0-5).

"I'm proud of the kids. It's not an effort thing, but we're making mistakes we shouldn't be making at the end of a season," declared veteran Bradley head coach Damon Floyd after Friday night's win in Maryville.

"We're playing really hard. The offense did great again tonight (466 yards, four TDs). The defense, except for a couple of slant passes that led to their touchdown, played great (gave up less than 200 yards, had two interceptions, five QB sacks). Our special teams got a kickoff return for a score, plus we kicked a field goal and all of our PATs, so that went well," he assessed.

"There's a lot of positives, but our execution was off in some areas. We're going to get that straightened out this week.

"We left a lot of points out there," Floyd remarked. "We had a lot of penalties again (27 for a combined 281 yards the last two weeks). It was hard to overcome some of them. We had a TD catch called back on a penalty and we weren't able to score on that drive.

"We lost three fumbles inside their 30, including one that went into the end zone. A bad snap fumble inside their 20 forced us to have to go for the field goal instead of a touchdown. So between that and 14 penalties, we hurt ourselves a lot, but the main thing is we were able to come out with the win and make the playoffs again," he commented.

"It's really frustrating. We played our best game two weeks ago (a 42-8 win over Soddy-Daisy), then we've had two disappointing performances the last two weeks, even though we got big wins.

"At this point of the season we should be peaking with Maryville coming in next week and the playoffs after that, but we're not. We've got to get better quick."

The 17-time state champion Red Rebels (8-1, 5-0) will invade Bear Stadium Friday evening. Bradley needs to find a way to derail the defending state champions, plus get some help from a Heritage upset of Ooltewah (7-2, 4-1) to be able to claim the region crown. 

"The (one-point) loss to Ooltewah may come back to haunt us as far as playoff position is concerned, but there's nothing we can do about that now. You learn from both wins and losses. We'd rather learn from wins," stated Floyd.

"Coming into the final game of the regular season against the best team in the state (Maryville) for a possible region title, you can't ask for more than that. Plus the weather is supposed to be nice and it's Senior Night, so we should have a packed house Friday night."

For the second straight week, Bradley didn't open the scoring until the final 90 seconds of the initial quarter.

After punting the ball away on their first position and not being able to capitalize on a Kahlil Lamberth interception after driving down to the Blount 8 and then turning the ball over on downs, the Bears were able to put together a seven-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with a 33-yard scoring toss from Dylan Standifer to Saylor Clark.

The Bears found the end zone again with 4:37 on the second quarter clock when Ricky McCleary scampered 19 yards to cap an eight-play, 56-yard march. After going off for 184 yards on 18 carries the previous week, the junior running back gained 180 on the same number of carries Friday. 

"You've got to give Ricky credit. Almost 400 yards in two weeks is huge," praised Floyd. "Ricky can put his foot down and make you miss. He can run over you and he can run by you.

"He's done a great job for us this year. He's earned it. He worked hard in the weight room during the offseason and was determined to get better.

"He's running hard, but you also have to give the offensive line credit. We lost five senior O-linemen from last year and these six guys (Jared Fox, Trevor Wallace, Jacob Tipton, Michael Holyfield, CJ Dills, Noah Grady) have come in and gotten better as the season has come along. They are doing a great job of run blocking and opening holes," the coach lionized.

Bradley got one more score before the halftime intermission, driving 84 yards on seven plays in the final two minutes without using a timeout.

"Coach (Matt) Moody has done a great job of calling the plays all season and really did so on that drive to get us down the field quickly for the score," proclaimed Floyd.

Taking over on their own 16, the big play came when Standifer fired a lateral pass to sophomore Tray Curry, who in turn threw the ball to Ashton Boyd for a 49-yard flea-flicker to the Governor 4 yard line.

Two plays later, Standifer snuck the ball over from the 1 with 18 ticks on the first half clock.

Senior Clay Shoemaker split the uprights with the third of his five extra points on the evening for a 21-0 advantage at the break.   

Just after the bands cleared the field, Curry kept the Bear scoring momentum going with a school-record 98-yard return of the second half kickoff.

"We felt during the week, that if he (Blount freshman kicker Job Matossian) didn't kick it in the end zone, we had a chance at running one back," Floyd related. "Tray did a great job of following his blockers and the other 10 guys did a great job opening it up for him."

The run snapped the previous Bear mark of 96 yards, set by Deonte Lindsey in 2008.

The "Black Hole Defense" set up the next Bradley score when senior linebacker Cole Reyher picked off his third interception of the season and returned it 47 yards to the Blount 18.

Four plays later Shoemaker connected on his first field goal attempt of the season, this one from 36 yards. He has a career long field goal of 42 yards.

Bradley's final score of the night came on a five-yard fade pass from Standifer to the 6-foot-5 Curry to culminate a seven-play, 62-yard march with 1:35 left in the third frame.

"Tray had a great night — a TD catch, the kickoff runback and he almost threw a TD pass," Floyd stated. Curry finished with 131 yards on five touches, plus the 49-yard toss, for the evening.

Making seven catches in a row, Clark pulled in nine aerials for 110 yards to up his season totals to an area-leading 845 yards on 56 receptions and 10 touchdowns.

"Saylor shows up for us every night," commented Floyd. "We can depend on him making good plays and great catches every game."

Standifer connected on 16-of-25 passes for 161 yards and three scores. The 2017 all-stater has completed over 66 percent (130-of-196) of his passes for 1,735 yards and 18 TDs so far this season. He also has gained 320 yards on 80 carries, six of which found the end zone.

Defensively, senior linebacker Hayden Owenby led the Bear attack with a half dozen solo tackles, an assist, two tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

Junior Brennan Lawson had a trio of solo takedowns, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage, plus a sack. Reyher collected three solos and a TFL to go with his pick, while Tucker Still and Kam Arrowood also had a trio of solos tackles each.

Senior noseman Parker Johnson got in on the sack parade in his three total hits, with another also coming behind the line of scrimmage. Lamberth had a couple of solo takedowns to go with his interception, while Brayden Owens had a pair of solo TFLs, including a sack.

McCleary Overcomes Injury To Shine


Limping over to see his family after Bradley Central's second ever four-year sweep of Cleveland, Ricky McCleary clearly gave everything he had for the 'Black and Gold'.

After being held out of practice for the majority of the past two weeks, only logging a limited practice two days before the Region 2-6A showdown, McCleary put forth a powerful performance.

Even with a turf toe injury, the junior versatile running back fought his way to find pay dirt four times to lead a 32-14 road victory for the prideful Bears Friday night.

"I definitely went through a little bit of adversity," McCleary said, who got stepped on and hurt in the Ooltewah game. "But I knew I had to stick with it for my team. I toughed it out and played hard. I am tired, but I pushed through it."

In a 54-year-old rivalry where legends are remembered, the fight head coach Damon Floyd received from his first-year starting back was a great example of how his Friday night star has earned his moment.

As the full-time gunner last year on special teams, attention-seeking has never encompassed McCleary.

Playing for his team and supporting everyone, as they do for him, has revealed his character.

"I loved being a special teams guy last year," McCleary said. "I knew I was going to get my opportunity if I kept working and stayed hungry. With my number being called, I went as hard as I could."

McCleary was the first to brag about his teammates play after he out-rushed Cleveland by 77 yards all together on two less carries.

"I always work. I really don't talk much. I want to thank everybody who blocked for me tonight. Even Dylan (Standifer) threw some blocks and cleared a way for me. They deserve a lot of credit too. I could not have done it without them."

In the first half McCleary showed his capability as an all-purpose back by totaling 42 of his 67 first half yards through the air.

Bradley's offensive line blocked well on screen passes to help spring loose a shifty and speedy runner.

McCleary capped a 10-play scoring drive for the first score of the night.

With outstanding vision, he made an abrupt cut back to the middle as he zigged and zagged to make three tacklers miss on a 14-yard touchdown dash.

His second score was helped set up by junior Saylor Clark's 57 yard reception on a play-action pass from Standifer to start the drive. Clark went on to land his first 100-yard receiving game of his career.

Standifer was effective on the ground too as his six yard push behind his line set things up on the one yard line for McCleary to clean up for a 14-0 lead with 4:09 left in the second quarter.

On every one of his four trips for six points, strong emotions were released in a meaningful rivalry game. 

"I went to Cleveland Middle School and I transferred to Bradley," McCleary said. "It meant a lot for me to show them I am somebody and capable of something. This game means a lot to me."

The highlight of the night for the FNF star was a sideline reversing 46 yard touchdown run to send a gut-punching blow to the Blue Raiders.

Instead of getting the ball back inside the Bradley 40 down 20-14 after what looked to be an impressive three-and-out, a roughing the kicker penalty cost CHS dearly.

Mental mistakes were far and few between for the Bears, who had an 11-4 penalty advantage.

With 2:12 left in the third quarter and a 26-14 lead, which would grow a little over a minute later on a Tray Curry "Randy Moss like" touchdown grab, McCleary had done his damage with 120 total yards and four TDs.

Shining in a game where over 6,000 people were easily in attendance, the win for Bradley once again kept the bragging rights on the south end of town.

McCleary stamped his mark on a night the Bears made a familiar statement. He finished with 20 carries for 95 yards to go with two catches for 42 yards.

"Everybody thought we were trash and said this would be our off year," McCleary said. "This is not our off year. It's another year for us to get better. We are going to be good."

After Nick Howell pummeled Cleveland for 186 total yards and a score last year in a 27-21 BC win, it was McCleary's turn.

He followed a motivated O-line to help bring back a fourth straight victory for 26 seniors, many of whom have waited patiently for their time.

"I learned a lot from guys like Adam Mullis and Nick Howell," he said. "I watched them for two years and really wanted to step in and not miss a beat. I want to be a threat in every way possible out of the backfield. Blocking included."

The shoes of those before him have not been too big to fill, even though McCleary had to wear a size 13 shoe on his injured left foot compared to his typical size 10 on his right.

He has now toted the rock 66 times for 362 yards (5.5 ypc) and five scores, while hauling in five passes for 50 yards in four games. He has rushed for over 90 yards in three of four games to start the season. 

Another tough road trip is up next with a trip to Rhea County next Friday for the Bears, who continue to run Bradley County on the gridiron. Print

Bears Tough, Beat Raiders Yet Again


Experts advise when encountering a bear, one should calmly and slowly back away to avoid provoking the wild beast.

Cleveland's Blue Raiders instead smacked one right on the nose Friday night and then paid dearly.

After the initial shock of quarterback Dylan Standifer getting leveled and bloodied on the first play from scrimmage, the all-stater came back out to lead Bradley Central to a roaring attack of the hosts for a dominate 32-14 victory in the 44th "Crosstown Clash."

Playing their first game on the Benny Monroe Stadium's new turf field, the Bears spoiled the Raider Hall of Fame and wrestling state championship ring celebrations before an overflow capacity crowd of approximately 6,500 fans.

Bradley claimed it's fourth straight victory in the 54-year rivalry, just one shy of their best mark of five in a row from 1974-78, during Coach Louie Alford's first go around as "Papa Bear."

The outcome also had big Region 2-6A ramifications as both local teams are fighting for one of four TSSAA playoff berths available.

"This was a big region win. Starting off 0-1 (with a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Ooltewah two weeks ago) is tough, so you have to get back to .500 before you can go forward," declared current Bruin mentor Damon Floyd, who is now 7-6 against the Raiders.

"Beating Cleveland is a tremendous lift emotionally, but also in our goal of making the playoffs (for the ninth straight year)."

Now 2-2 on the season, Bradley will head across the Tennessee River to face longtime rival Rhea County in Evensville Friday night. The Golden Eagles are 3-1 on the campaign and currently ranked 14th in the Class 5A state poll, but could move up after a 21-7 victory over Lenoir City Friday night.

Meanwhile, Cleveland (1-3, 1-1) will regroup and head to the north end of the county to face Walker Valley (0-4) this week.   

"We have to stay together," fourth year CHS head coach Scott Cummings said. "We are 1-1 in region play and everything is still in front of us. We have too many guys doing the right things to let those who are hurting our culture continue. Things are about to get much more harsh."

While Blue Raider defensive back David Dorsey had the loudest hit of the night, which took Standifer out of the game for three plays, the Bradley defense was lockdown in only allowing 18 yards on the ground on 22 carries.

Creative with their defensive blitzes, the Bears totaled five sacks and also had senior Brandon Adams intercept a pass late. 

"We allowed two long scores tonight to a really talented receiver, but I can't find anything to be mad about our effort on defense," Floyd said. "We played really, really well defensively. They fought and kept pushing all the way."

After a scoreless first quarter, Bradley Central marched down field on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive lasting over five minutes until the 11:11 mark of the second quarter.

Junior Ricky McCleary cut and zig-zagged his way 14 yards for the first of his four touchdowns on a night he fought for 137 total yards.

Over the past two weeks McCleary had logged just one practice in preparation for an intense rivalry.

"We had been keeping quiet about Ricky because we thought he could play. He came out banged up and gave us a tremendous effort. Great vision. Great feel. Unbelievable effort tonight."

Bradley Central soon extended the lead.

Sophomore Kins Hooper blasted through the middle for a seven yard sack on second-and-five. A timeout by CHS was put to little use, as the ensuing play saw junior Cam Arrowood and Hayden Owenby bring down the quarterback for a loss.

With momentum provided by the Bradley D, Standifer took a shot.

Selling the run fake well, he fired deep down his own sideline for a 57 yard connection with junior Saylor Clark, who took the ball down to the CHS 18.

Four plays later McCleary found a clear lane for a one-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 4:09 before the half.

Allowing just 191 yards of offense, the majority came from standout CHS receiver Robert Flowers.

Flowers hauled in five catches for 117 yards and two scores, which included a 35-yard strike from Jackson Moore down the left sideline to make for a 14-7 deficit at the half.

The CHS playmaker now has eight total touchdowns on the season with 485 receiving yards on 21 catches.

"You have to give Flowers credit," Coach Floyd said. "We had him bracketed all night and he got past double coverage twice for long scores. We knew where he was at on every play."

Flowers gave the 'Big Blue' a big shot of adrenaline with a 44 yard TD hookup with Moore as he drug a defender the final eight yards in for six.

With the score 20-14 in advantage of Bradley with five minutes left in the third, the next four minutes would prove decisive to the final outcome.

In what appeared to be a huge three-and-out stop for the Blue Raider defense, a roughing the kicker penalty on the punt was the most costly of their 11 total yellow flag mistakes.

The Bears made them pay as McCleary dazzled with a 46 yard touchdown run, as he danced down the right sideline before cutting it all the way across to the other sideline and racing to the end zone.

"The key moment was the roughing the punter penalty," Floyd said. "We've had our fair share on the other side of those type situations. Sometimes it bounces against you and tonight it went our way and we made the most of it."The Bears landed another big break as Camden Creighton forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
All of a sudden Bradley led 32-14 after sophomore Tray Curry's 4-yard sky-high leaping grab over a helpless defender with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

Disappointment filled the Blue Raider sideline, which had high hopes to end a three-year losing skid to their arch rival.

Bradley did not allow positive net yards rushing in the second half.

"I can't say enough about our kids playing together," Floyd said. "This was a ball game until midway through the third quarter. Tonight's win is a culmination of what we've been doing since January."

Dorsey shadowed Curry for most of the night in a matchup of two emerging prospects. Curry finished with 12 touches for 62 yards and a score against a backup corner.

Clark led BC with five catches for 101 yards, which was his first time over the century mark in his career.

"We were able to go to Saylor more because they put Dorsey on Tray," Floyd said. "Coach (Matt) Moody did a great job moving guys around to mix it up and make us more difficult to defend."

Both rivals have a chance to see one another again this postseason if the cards fall into place. 

For now, the Bears have four straight seasons of bragging rights as they "run this town" under the Friday night lights.

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