This week’s challenge is to keep up the intensity as one-win Rhea County comes to Bear Stadium.
“We talked about not having a letdown. We’re not going to allow it,” Floyd proclaimed. “This is not about our opponent. This is about us. No matter who we are playing, we need to be prepared and fired up, ready to play.”
One thing that should keep the Bears’ focus is the District 5-AAA race, which starts in earnest for them Friday night.
“All we have left is district games, so each one is extremely important,” Floyd declared. “We’ve got one district win (over Soddy-Daisy) under our belt, but playing five back-to-back is going to be a tough challenge.”
While the Bears come into this week’s game with a 3-2 overall record, including the 5-AAA win over the Trojans, Rhea County has struggled to just one win in its first seven games, including district losses to McMinn County and Soddy-Daisy.
“Rhea has played some tough teams, so don’t let their record fool you,” commented Floyd. “They are going to fight and hit on every down. Every game we’ve played against them has been a very physical game. I don’t expect anything different this week.”
Coach Doug Greene’s Golden Eagles’ lone victory came over Brainerd by a 33-6 tally the second week of the season, while three of their losses have come to strong Knoxville teams — Fulton, Powell and Bearden, the latter two of which are ranked sixth in the 5A and 6A state polls respectively.
Having been outscored 164-74 this season, Rhea will be trying to snap a four-game losing streak before getting to take a bye week off.
“They (Rhea) have good size up front and will be one of the better offensive lines we’ll face,” Floyd assessed. “They also have a really good tailback that can play. Their problem is they don’t have a lot of depth, so guys are having to play both ways the entire game.”
As for his own team, Floyd said the Bears “have got to do a better job running the ball this week.” To that end, junior Logan Fetzner will be back in the lineup after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury that has hampered him since the Baylor game in Week 2.
“Logan (Fetzner) has been released. Nate (Mills, who was injured early last week) will be back and we’re waiting to hear on DJ (King, an offensive tackle who also missed last week),” the coach remarked. “We had to go with a lot of five-wide (offense) last week, but for us to reach our goals, we are going to have to be able to run.”
Bradley relied heavily on senior quarterback Bryce Copeland last week, as he accounted for 326 of Bradley’s 352 yards of offense. “Bryce did a great job but we can’t put it all on him all the time. We have got to have somebody step up and take some of the pressure off him,” Floyd related.
The Bear depth has helped this season as the team’s “Next Man In,” philosophy has been put to the test. “This is the most injuries I’ve ever had in 10 years of coaching,” commented Floyd, who was a Bear assistant for three years before taking over the program seven seasons ago.
Although Caleb Cain got a waiver signed just before kickoff last week to be able to return, Bradley is still down two starters — Jordan Sharp and Alex Hopkins — for the rest of the season.
“We have had several guys get really banged up and are playing through some pain, but the guys who have been stepping in have done a great job,” the coach stated. “Even when the starters come back, these guys who have come in and shown what they can do will still get plenty of Friday night action, along with the starters.”
“We always pick Players of the Week among the team, but this week we couldn’t do that because the win (over Blackman) was such a team effort,” he added. “I was real impressed with how we overcame a lot of things last week to win. We had way too many penalties. They (Blackman) converted several third-and-long situations, and we came up with big takeaways when we needed them.”
“We beat one of the best teams in the state and we played like we knew all along that we could. That’s the most important thing,” Floyd summarized.