SODDY-DAISY — Bouncing back from what their coach called “one of their worst performances since I’ve been here” the previous week, 13th-ranked Bradley Central looked like a different team Friday night while shutting out Soddy-Daisy in the District 5-AAA opener for both squads.
“We executed in all phases of the game,” proclaimed seven-year Bear head coach Damon Floyd after the 35-0 shellacking of the Trojans. “We were more efficient with our offense and our defense really stepped it up tonight to stop their run game.”
Bradley found pay dirt in four of first five offensive possessions, plus held Soddy to a net 21 rushing yards on 30 carries, sacking the Trojan quarterback a half dozen times. The hosts did get inside the Bear red zone three times during the contest, but each time the Black-and-Gold defense “bowed its back” to force Soddy to turn the ball over on downs.
After three straight road games to open the season, Bradley (2-1) will get ready for its home opener Friday against East Hamilton (2-1), which is ranked seventh in the current Class 4A Associated Press poll.
With starting tailback Logan Fetzner unable to practice all week after injuring his ankle in the trip to the Baylor “woodshed” the previous Friday, the Bradley coaches put the ball in the hands of Baylor Terrell. The 5-foot-6, 150-pound junior responded with 128 yards on 16 carries to lead the Bear rushing attack.
“We feel confident in Baylor,” praised coach Floyd. “He was ‘the man’ on the JV (junior varsity) team last year. He’s a very heady ball carrier with good speed and can make people miss.”
Senior quarterback Bryce Copeland, who carried the full load the week before with 18 rushes and 37 passes for 294 total yards, only had to run three times for 8 yards Friday, plus completed 11-of-14 passes for 264 yards, including TD tosses of 27 and 68 yards to Caleb Cain and Dee Crisp respectively.
Although it was thought midweek that Fetzner would be held out of the game, the swelling in his ankle had subsided by Friday morning.
“We tested him and he was able to make his cuts without any pain,” explained Floyd. “We decided to go ahead and let him play but we were going to be careful with him.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior who had exploded for 288 all-purpose yards in the season opener before being held to just six yards on four carries and a catch against Baylor, had nine touches at Soddy, going for 41 yards, including touchdown runs of 8 and 13.
With Bradley’s top receiver, junior Cal Pickel, being double-covered all night, the Bears spread the ball around to seven different receivers with Crisp leading the way with five catches for 120 yards.
“Dee had a big night for us,” declared Floyd. “He has all the tools to be a big-time receiver and some of that came out tonight.”
Cain added a 47-yard reception to his 27-yard scoring snatch, while Pickel went for 42 yards on his lone catch of the evening.
“We have said all along if something happens to someone, it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up,” the Bear coach expressed. “We had several guys to do that tonight.”
One concern for the Bear offense coming out of the contest is the health of starting right tackle DJ King, who had to be helped from the field early in the contest with an injured knee. “He got hit on both sides of the knee,” explained Floyd. “We won’t know how bad it is until he can go to the doctor on Tuesday.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears were able to dominate the trenches and keep constant pressure on the Trojan quarterback while shutting down the run game.
Junior defensive end Eduardo Trevino finished the night with five sacks, plus a couple of QB hurries. He also pinned a Trojan running back behind the line of scrimmage among his 10 tackles.
“Trevino’s an animal,” his coach proclaimed. “He is bigger, stronger and faster. He’s only going to get better. He has the potential to be one of the best defensive players we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Linebackers LJ Goodridge and Nate Mills were also all over the field making big hits, as were safeties Alex Hopkins and Robert Bartolameolli.
Receiving the opening kickoff, Bradley used three runs for 39 yards by Terrell to set the tone before Copeland finished the eight-play drive with his 27-yard hookup with Cain on the game’s first pass.
Junior Clayton Steels drilled the first of his five PAT kicks for a 7-0 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the contest.
The Bears second score came on their third possession. After a Trevino sack stalled a Trojan drive at the Bradley 25, Terrell ripped off a 7-yard run before Copeland hit a streaking Crisp down the left sideline for a 68-yard scoring strike with just over a minute gone in the second quarter.
After a Trojan coffin-corner punt pinned Bradley deep in its own territory, the Bear offense responded with another score on its next drive. Marching 96 yards on nine plays, including the 42-yard pass to Pickel, Fetzner did the honors from eight yards out with just 67 seconds remaining on the first half clock.
The Bears continued to add to their total with their first chance after the intermission with a 10-play march that included a 42-yard toss to Crisp. Fetzner once again carried the rock to pay dirt, this time from 13 yards away.
With quarterback Brett Standifer finding some success in the air, Soddy (1-2, 0-1) was able to move inside the Bear 10 on two straight series. The first stalled when Trevino met Trojan tailback CJ Blue at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-2 play at the 3-yard line. The second ended when linebacker Jordan Timmons hurried Standifer on a pass attempt on a fourth-and-goal from the 4 yard line.
The game’s final score came when for the second time the Bear offense marched 96 yards to pay dirt with a 47-yard connection between Copeland and Cain, plus backup QB Keith Wilson got in the act with a 19-yard pass to Daniel Clark, setting up a well-deserved, nine-yard score by Terrell to cap his big night.
With the younger Bears playing the final five minutes, sophomores Dalton Deal and Warren Crisp got into the stat sheet with a combined sack of Standifer on the game’s final play.