What was expected to be a tight tooth-and-nail battle between evenly matched cross-county rivals, turned out to be a one-sided affair as Bradley Central kept its record perfect in nine gridiron meetings with Walker Valley.
“Our kids have been excited all week getting ready for this game,” declared Bear head coach Damon Floyd of the 38-14 victory. “We got (senior linebacker) Eduardo (Trevino) back (from an injury). He’s an emotional leader. Our defense played with passion. Most of all we trusted our keys and teammates on defense, plus we were able to get our running game going on offense and that helped open up some thing for us.”
“They came out and got after it and we didn’t,” bemoaned Mustang head coach Glen Ryan. “We missed some opportunities early and couldn’t get anything going. Our offense sputtered and that kept our defense on the field way too much.”
The outcome gives Bradley a 3-1 overall record and a win in its first District 5-AAA contest of the season. The Bears will entertain former Bradley head coach Bill Price and his fifth-ranked (4A) Signal Mountain squad on Friday.
“They (SM) are college-size huge and have scored 120 points in their last two games,” declared Floyd. “They will be a big challenge for us.”
Meanwhile, Walker Valley (3-2, 0-2 District 5-AAA) will go next door to Benton Friday to take on ninth-ranked (3A) Polk County (3-1), which is coming off a 21-14 win over arch-rival McMinn Central.
“We’re jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” proclaimed Ryan. “We got to shake off last night (at Bear Stadium), lick our wounds and get right back at it to get ready for the punishing attack they (Polk) bring.”
Things got off on the wrong foot for Walker Valley Friday evening as Ryan had to call a timeout before the first snap of the game due to not having enough players on the field. A fumble on the second play from scrimmage resulted in the first of three straight three-and-out possessions before Bear interceptions ended the next two tries.
Bradley scored the game’s first 17 points Friday evening before a near capacity crowd at the 5,000-seat Bear Stadium.
After a 46-yard pass from senior quarterback Brett Standifer to classmate Dee Crisp on the Black-and-Gold’s first offensive play, a penalty and an overthrow forced the hosts to settle for a 32-yard field goal by senior Clayton Steels to cap its first of three opening half trips into the Red Zone.
On their second possession, the Bears took possession near midfield and mixed a trio of pass completions to senior Cal Pickel for 24 yards and four runs for 26 yards by Standifer, including the final dash from six yards out for the game’s first touchdown.
Junior Daniel Clark set up the third Bradley score four minutes into the second quarter when he picked off a Mustang pass and returned it five yards to the 13 yard line.
Senior Logan Fetzner carried the ball to paydirt on the very next play, but a yellow flag nullified the score and pushed the ball back to the 18. After a no gain and an incompleted pass, Standifer gained 15 yards for a first down, then finished off the score from three yards out with 7:25 on the clock.
Although they are a perfect 12-for-12 in Red Zone scoring this season, the Mustang offense earned just three first downs and didn’t take a snap beyond their own 43 yard line Friday. In fact 75 of their 147 total yards came on a pass that was tipped into the air by a diving Bradley defender, caught by Colton Morrow and run in for a 75-yard touchdown for the lone score by the WV offense with 58 seconds left in the opening half to trim the deficit to 17-7.
Bradley stretched the lead on its second possession of the second half, going 52 yards in just five plays. Standifer found Crisp along the right sideline, who broke a tackle and raced into the end zone from 32 yards out.
The hosts appeared ready to add to their lead on their next possession, but Walker Valley sophomore Avery Jones broke through the blockers on a 27-yard field goal attempt to swat the ball down and freshman teammate Cooper Melton scooped the ball up and out ran everybody for a 70-yard touchdown to close the gap back to 10 points with two minutes left in the third frame.
The Bears answered with two scores in less than three minutes to put the game out of reach.
On the second play after the ensuing kickoff, Standifer hit Crisp on a swing pass to the left flat. After getting a pancake block by Fetzner, the speedster turned on the after burners and carried the ball the 57 yards needed for the touchdown.
After junior Dalton Cooley was in on a pair of sacks, one with Trevino and the other with Dakota Burgess, to force another Mustang three-and-out, Bradley needed just one play to find paydirt as junior Christian Hamilton scampered 39 yards for the score.
Steels, who went a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs, tacked on the game’s final point with 11:04 remaining.
The Bears, which had gained just 140 yards on the ground in their first three games combined, went for 277 yards on 36 carries, including a pair of 100-yard efforts by Fetzner and Standifer.
Fetzner, who led the team with 83 rushing yards coming into the contest, carried the ball 13 times for 126 yards, while Standifer had 15 carries for 101.
Standifer also completed 9-of-20 passes for 178 yards.
Crisp pulled in five aerials for 142 yards, including an seven-yarder on freshman QB Cole Copeland’s first varsity completion. Crisp also made a leaping interception pick in the first half.
Defensively, the Bears gave up just 64 yards on 31 WV rushes, plus allowed the visitors to complete just 3-of-13 passes.
Trevino made a grand entrance to the fall season by being in on a dozen tackles before taking the final quarter off.
After playing all of last year with his hand in a cast to protect an injured pinky finger, Trevino missed all of spring practice due to surgery on a herniated disk. Returning to practice in early August, the 5-foot-11, 245-pound senior linebacker had to have his knee scoped due to a torn meniscus.
For Walker Valley, Morrow was the top offensive threat with his 75-yard TD catch, plus four carries for 10 yards.
Junior Holt Spencer led the rushing attack with 24 yards on eight rushes, while freshman Alex King gained 20 yards on three attempts.
Junior Hunter Newport paced the WV defense with 10 total tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
Senior Tanner Dillard was in on nine total hits, with one tackle for loss, while classmate Cody McCracken had eight hits.
Junior Jake Johnson and Melton in on seven take downs, with Johnson also deflecting a pass and Melton making a half dozen solo tackles, one for loss.