1976 Sate Champioship Season
By GARY OWNBEY
Bradley Central Sports Historian
In 1976, Bradley Central posted just the fourth unbeaten season in school history, as the Bears marched to their second state championship, going 13-0 to capture the TSSAA Class AAA state title in an exciting, record setting championship against Jackson Central-Merry on Thanksgiving Day at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The following is a recap of the championship 1976 season:
Game 1 — 09/03/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 43 Memphis Kingsbury 15
“We couldn’t get a full schedule because some of the teams around here refused to play us so we ended up having to schedule any team we could get,” explained then Bradley head coach Louie Alford. “Kingsbury agreed to play us after we agreed to pay them to come to our house. They were a 'ragtag’ team with some very good players but lacked somewhat in coaching and equipment. “They came over from Memphis crammed into a beater of a school bus. They didn’t have enough helmets for everyone on the team, sowhen a player came out of the game he had to give up his helmet to his sub.”
Note: The Bears had lost defensive back and end Terry Scoggins due to a freak injury in practice. Terry skied for a catch and was hit hard, rupturing his spleen. This would cause him to miss most of the regular season. “Chigger” White was sidelined as well with a heart murmur and would miss the start of the season.
Game 2 — 09/10/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 41 McMinn County 14
The win over the Cherokees would break the longest winning streak in McMinn County history to that point. Quarterback Scott Kyle would begin to excel for the Bears in the passing game. He was 10-for-18 for 223 yards and four touchdowns. For good measure he also scored one touchdown on a rushing play. For his efforts, Kyle was named the state’s Offensive Player of the Week by the Associated Press.
Game 3 — 9/17/76 at Harrison Bears 7 Chattanooga Central 0
“This was our worst performance of the year,” according to Coach Alford. “Coming off a huge win over McMinn County the previous
week, we were flat as a flitter and were lucky to win this game.” The Bears were ranked No. 5 in the state Class AAA poll by the AP
going in to the game with the Pounders.
Game 4—09/24/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 9, Red Bank 6
The magic toe of Bobby Delay would win this game over one of Bradley’s traditionally tough opponents. Delay’s 32-yard game-winning
field goal came with just 22 seconds left in the contest. After the back-to-back close games, the Bears dropped a couple of spots in the AP poll. The Red Bank quarterback for this game was future Bear head coach Bill Price.
Game 5 —10/01/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 26, Somerville 8
In desperation to fill out a 10 game schedule, Bradley hosted another terrible team from the Memphis area that it would never
scheduled, except they were desperate for a fifth home game. At this time the Bears were ranked No. 7 in the AP Class AAA
poll while Cleveland was ranked No. 8 in AA and the Charleston Panthers were ranked eighth as well in A. This was the first and
only season that all three local schools were ranked at the same time in football.
Game 6 — 10/08/76 at Clinton Bears 10, Clinton 7 (OT)
“We knew this would be a tough road game,” stated Alford. The Dragons were unbeaten and “playing on their field was always a challenge.” The Bears were lambasted by the men in the striped shirts with 11 penalties totaling a whopping 117 yards while the hosts were only flagged 35 yards in penalties. Despite the seeming inequity, the Bears somehow held their own and once again the toe of
Delay came through in overtime. Coach Alford related, “The field was a mess from rain and we didn’t want to take a chance on get-
ting another penalty. After we recovered a fumble, I told Bobby to kick a field goal and end this thing. We lined up on first down and his kick was true. We once again were able to overcome adversity.” The Bears remained ranked
No. 7 in the state poll that week. Game 7 — 10/15/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 21, Cleveland 13
The Raiders were still being coached by former Bear standout Bobby Scott, who beaten Bradley seven times in the previous 11
meetings. However had won two straight against their crosstown rivals and were on a mission for an unbeaten season, which was being tossed about by the Bear faithful and the press. Despite amassing 108 yards in penalties and four lost fumbles, the Bears prevailed over the eighth-ranked Raiders before an estimated 12,000 fans at Bear Stadium. The Bears actually dropped in the AP poll to No. 8 following the win.
Game 8 — 10/22/76 at Baylor Bears 28, Baylor 7
Facing the first of three straight road games to wrap up the regular season, Bradley did have a bright note heading into the game
as Terry Scoggins, who had missed all season up to this game following surgery from a practice injury, returned to the Bears in
the defensive backfield. While this wasn’t the same Baylor team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1973, this was still Baylor and facing the Red Raiders at their place was a tough challenge. The Bears prolific running game amassed 305 yards in this rout of the Red Raiders and with the win they climbed to No. 6 in the state poll.
Game 9 — 10/28/76 (Thursday) at Evensville Bears 23, Rhea County 0
Bradley felt confident heading into this game and continued its domination of the Golden Eagles with their 14th win in 15 games
against the boys from across the Tennessee river. Although Coach Alford was having no talk about the possibility of an unbeaten season, the fans and the media were with just one more hurdle to clear. Despite having to hit the road nagain for the final regular season contest, all the talk from the media was that the Bears were playoff-bound.
Game 10 — 11/05/76 at East Ridge Bears 27, East Ridge 14
Against a longtime veteran coach in Raymond James, the Bears had their hands full with the Pioneers. Having moved up to No. 4 in
the state rankings, they took care of business and knocked off the Pioneers. Despite running their winning streak to 15 straight games
(including the final five of the 1975 season), the Bears would be the underdog in all three of their playoff games.
TSSAA Class AAA Playoffs
Round 1 — 11/12/76 at Bear Stadium Bears 18, Kirkman 0
The Golden Hawks from Chattanooga were unbeaten at 10-0 and considered the favorite as they traveled to Bear Stadium for Bradley’s first-ever playoff game. Someone forgot to tell the Bears and undersized running back Danny Wooden that they were the underdogs. Wooden had 32 carries, gaining 152 yards as the Bears absolutely wore out the defense of Kirkman nwith over 300 yards of offense. Wooden wasn’t the only offense, but Coach Alford loved to run the ball and he utilized the herculean effort of Wooden to
carry the load. “We knew that our best bet was the keep the ball away from their offense if possible,” confided Coach Alford. That ploy worked to perfection as Kirkman could manage only 81 total yards for the game as the Bear defense held the potent Hawk offense, which had scored 305 points in its first 10 games, scoreless. This was a well-balanced Bear team. The offense was as strong as any Bradley team in many, many seasons, averaging better than 25 points per game, while the defense had shutout three opponents and allowed just an average of 7.5 points in the first 11 games.
TSSAA Class AAA Playoffs
Round 2 — 11/19/76 at Sevierville Bears 24 Dobyns-Bennett 18
The Bears were again considered the underdog in the state semifinals, but that never bothered this team. In those days the TSSAA
assigned playoff game sites and they had selected the newly constructed high school at Sevierville for Round 2 in AAA. It was considered to be a neutral field that was basically situated about halfway between the two schools. Country music star Dolly Parton was given credit for making a significant donation to help in the construction of the football complex for her alma mater. The Indians came into this game with the No. 1 defense in the state having allowed only 28 points all season. So the Bears tossed those statistics aside and simply laid 24 points on D-B. In turn, the Bear “D” held the Indians to a net total of 91 rushing yards with 62 of those coming
on a TD run. Dobyns-Bennett’s offense could only manage three first downs for the game. This was maybe the greatest defensive
effort for the Bears all season.One important but never to be overlooked factor is reviewing film of the upcoming opponent. Coach
Alford and his staff had picked up a ‘tell’ by the Indian stud running back David Earles. When preparing for the snap he would place his right foot back if he was going left and his left foot back if he was going right. The Bear coaching staff passed this information along to the defense and nose tackle Randy Goins had an incredible field day with this information and was a big key to the performance of the
Bear defense. Another incredible stat was that once the Indians fell behind they had to go to a passing game. The Bears intercepted three consecutive passes in the final four minutes of the game with Greg Geren, Eddie Albornoz and Tim Kuhns featured in this
TSSAA Class AAA Playoffs
State Championship Game Thanksgiving — 11/25/76 at MTSU, Murfreesboro Bears 50 Jackson Central-Merry 48 3 OTs
The last of a trio of title games that day, a pair unbeaten teams, sporting 12-0 records would battle it out for the AAA title. This was one for the record books with the most combined points (98) scored in a championship game. Jackson Central-Merry scored an amazing 409 points in the 1976 season and were ranked No. 1 in the AAA poll all year. In this game the Bears would lose the statistical battle in every aspect, being out-gained in rushing yards 240-205, passing yards 112-67 and in the first down category, 20-12, but the only numbers that counted in the end was the final score. Quarterback Scott Kyle would set a championship game scoring record of 32 points, a mark record that would stand for decades, as he pummeled the Cougars for five touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the third overtime that sealed the win. That two-point conversion was not intended to happen as it did though. Coach Alford employed the ‘Swinging Gate” look for extra point conversions where only the snapper, holder, kicker and a wide-out lined up on the football. All of the other lineman and a back would line up in a cluster on the far left side of the field forcing the defensive team to honor that alignment. On this play Coach Alford had called Kyle to the sidelines. “Let’s get this thing over with because our defense can’t stop them and they can’t stop us. We’ll be here all night if something doesn’t happen so let’s go for two this time.” The ball was snapped to Kyle, who faked a pass to the cluster formation to draw the defense’sattention. “He was supposed to pass the ball to the end but instead he kept it and took it in himself,” noted Alford. JCM still had a chance to tie the game once again and converted on their possession for a touchdown but the extra-point try on a pass was batted down and the Bears had their championship. Danny Wooden was again the workhorse for the Bears with 25 carries for 125 yards. “That poor kid got beat to death every game, but he could take it. He never backed down or took a play off and we rode him unmercifully all season long”, remarked Alford. “In fact, this team was as good as the unbeaten 1959 team that I played on,” offered the coach. Wooden would total over 100 yards in each of the playoff games.
Defensively the Bears just couldn’t get much better. Randy Goins, Tim Tinsley, Tim Kuhns, Eddie Albornoz, Bobby McLemore, Dennis Carroll and David White carried much of the load all year along the line but the defensive backfield of Greg Geren, Terry Scoggins, Barry Varner and David Goodner was always there and shut down many opponents themselves. Jackson Central-Merry not only was ranked No. 1 in the state prior to the game but they were a first-class program as well. Following the game, most of the JCM players came to the Bear dressing room as the Bears were celebrating their victory. One of the Cougar captains gave a speech congratulating the Bears and led the group in prayer. The Bears would complete a perfect unbeaten season for the first time since 1959, which was a team that Coach Alford had been the starting fullback on for Coach Billy Frank Smith. Dennis Carroll was named first team All-State, while Bobby Delay and Scott Kyle made Honorable Mention list This was a dream season for the Bears and Bear Nation, a season that will never be forgotten in the long tradition and legacy that is Bradley Central.
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUMMARY
JCM 6 8 7 7 7 7 6 — 48
Bradley 0 14 7 7 7 7 7 — 50
JCM — Butler 3-yd. run (kick failed)
BC —Kyle 1-yd. run (Delay kick)
JCM — Golden 20 pass from Irvine (Merriwether
pass from Martindale)
BC — Wooden 30-yd. pass from Kyle (Delay kick)
JCM — Minor 2-yd. run (Peek kick)
BC — Kyle 12-yd. run (Delay kick)
BC — Kyle 9-yd. run (Delay kick)
JCM — Cole 5-yd. run (Peek kick)
BC — Kyle 1-yd. run (Delay kick)
JCM — Irvine 1-yd. run (Peek kick)
JCM — Irvine 5-yd. run (Peek kick)
BC — Kyle 10-yd. run (Delay kick)
BC — Wooden 2-yd. run (Kyle run)
JCM — Irvine 10-yd. run (pass failed)
First downs 12 20
Rushes-yards 240 205
Passing yards 112 67
Total yards 352 272
Comp-Att-Int 5-8-1 4-7-0
Punts -Ave. 1-26.0 2-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties 3-15 9-70