“We’ve talked enough. It’s time to do,” declared Bradley head coach Damon Floyd earlier this week. “We need to correct our mistakes and be more consistent on every play.”
“I think we’ve worried about who we were playing too much,” he added. “Instead we need to focus on ourselves and what we are capable of doing.”
Held to its lowest point total (14) of the season last Friday in Murfreesboro, Bradley has posted more than 2,000 yards of offense and scored 23 touchdowns against five teams which are a combined 19-9 on the season.
Coming off a disappointing 20-point loss at the hands of sixth-ranked Blackman, the Bears, who slipped from seventh to 10th in this week’s AP poll, are now 3-2 on the season and facing five straight District 5-AAA battles.
Despite double-digit deficits to Blackman and top-ranked (Division II) Baylor, Bradley has put 170 points on the board so far this season, while 79 of the 112 it’s surrendered were in the aforementioned defeats.
The second half of the season finds the Bears on the road for games at Rhea County and Ooltewah, plus an ESPNU broadcast event at Benny Monroe Stadium against archrival Cleveland. Bradley will host Walker Valley and McMinn County.
On paper the second half looks easier as the five opponents have won just 10 of 28 games, two of them have yet to post a victory, but history tells the Bears nothing comes easy in the District 5-AAA schedule.
“One thing’s for sure — the most important part of our schedule is ahead of us,” Floyd proclaimed. “We can’t take any opponent for granted. Each team in our district will come at you with everything they’ve got.”
The stretch run will begin Friday in Evensville against Rhea County, which has yet to win a game under new head coach Doug Greene.
“He (Greene) sort of got put behind the eight ball with the (late) timing of his hiring,” Floyd remarked. “They are playing really hard and have looked good at times but with the delayed timeline, they are still trying to get to know what he is wanting them to do.”
Greene played for Benny Monroe at Cleveland High in the 1980s and served as an assistant coach under the legendary coach at Ooltewah.
“You can see a lot of what he (Greene) did at Ooltewah in their defense,” Floyd remarked. “They had a chance to beat Bearden (a 20-18 loss) and were up at Soddy-Daisy.”
The Golden Eagles have been outscored 189-85 by their six opponents and have dropped their first two district games against Soddy-Daisy (40-10) and McMinn County (34-14).
Bradley won its lone 5-AAA game by a 52-14 margin over Soddy-Daisy, but aren’t ready to count their chickens before they hatch.
“Rhea is very physical with tough kids who always give a great effort,” Floyd assessed. “Plus it’s never fun to play at Rhea County. They have tremendous fan support.”
Last year Bradley had to come from behind twice to pull out a 28-24 victory that even left Floyd bloodied after getting caught up in a sideline tackle at Bear Stadium.
Despite a few nicks and bruises, a couple of finger jams and a turf toe injury, the Bears have no major injuries. “We’ve got a few minor things, but everybody has those this time of year,” Floyd related. “Everybody will be ready to go.”
The third of four straight road games, the 40-minute trip across the Tennessee River could be exactly what the Bears need to get refocused on what’s important.
“You want to win every game, but we all know the district games are more important,” the Bradley coach expressed.
“The talking is over. We’re not changing what we do, we just need to get better at doing it,” Floyd proclaimed. “It’s time to play Bear football.”