Robert Flowers and Saylor Clark, the leading receivers in Bradley County, understand the strong tradition at their position.It would be hard not to after Zeke Westfield and Lameric Tucker shattered …
Robert Flowers and Saylor Clark, the leading receivers in Bradley County, understand the strong tradition at their position.
It would be hard not to after Zeke Westfield and Lameric Tucker shattered school records last year, while Bryce Nunnelly leads all of Division I football in receiving yards so far in 2018.
With speed, steady hands, length and strong route-running, both Flowers and Clark have fit into the mold as star receivers at Cleveland and Bradley Central.
So far through six combined games the juniors have accounted for 35 catches, 623 yards and nine scores, even with a touchdown for each called back.
Preparing for Friday's heated rivalry between the Blue Raiders (1-2, 1-0 Region 2-6A) and Bears (1-2, 0-1) at Benny Monroe Stadium, both are excited to be under the spotlight in their community.
"This is the game I have been waiting for all year," Flowers said. "The biggest thing that helps me every week is I practice like I play in games. I leave it all out there between the white lines. I respect Bradley, but the Blue Raiders want a win as bad as ever."
Being born with "Black and Gold" in his veins, Clark has extra motivation as well for a region battle that once had to be discontinued for several years due to emotions running a little too high.
"I have wanted to be a Bear ever since I knew what it meant when I was really little," Clark said. "I was a water boy for my uncle's (Chuck Clark) basketball team. It's a huge tradition. The rivalry game with Cleveland is one you always want to win at all costs."
While no love is shared between the two programs, respect will have to be shown.
Both sides will have to account for the go-to targets on any given play.
After all, both are in the midst of their breakout seasons, having filled into the top spots in the passing game vacated by Cleveland's Romeo Wykle and BC's Tucker.
Just three games in, both have exceeded their yardage totals from last season.
With added help from going against, in practice, one of the top defensive backs in the state in senior teammate David Dorsey (4 interceptions, 23 tackles, fumble recovery, 7 pass deflections), Flowers has become a rock-solid force.
The 6-foot-3 deep threat receiver totaled 140 yards and two scores against an unbeaten now tenth-ranked 6A Bearden squad, while he had a career-high 147 yards and two touchdowns against a reigning state champion in No. 2 Knox Catholic last week.
"It's scary when (David) Dorsey presses you in practice," Cleveland wide receiver coach Ben Garcia said of Dorsey, who likes to model his game after all-pro Jacksonville Jaguar DB Jalen Ramsey. "Robert goes out there and battles with him and it's fun to watch. Competition against one another makes us all better."
With 16 catches for 368 yards (23 ypc) and five scores, Flowers is on pace for over 1,200 receiving yards and 16 receiving scores in a 10 game stretch.
Meanwhile, an all-state quarterback in Dylan Standifer has carried over a strong chemistry with the 6-foot-2 surehanded Clark, who reeled in five TDs last season with a crucial one coming in a 27-21 win at home over Cleveland.
Clark has 19 catches for 255 yards (13.4 ypc) with a pair of scores against Walker Valley and Ooltewah.
"The guys ahead of him in the past set the bar high so he would know what to expect," said BCHS head coach Damon Floyd. "Saylor takes every week personally. He is trying to win and is the ultimate competitor. This week against Cleveland he may have a little extra motivation, though."
Once a part of a deep pecking order in the BC wide receiver room, Clark is the current leader by example at the position, even for highly sought-after D1 target Tray Curry to learn from.
No matter what his personal stats may read after one of the biggest games of his life this Friday, victory is all that matters to the true-blood Bradley standout.
"If I have zero catches and we win, that's great," Clark said. "I would take that over having 10 catches and losing any day. I am in this for the team. This is a huge region game."
In a rivalry game looking to be a toss-up, similar to last year, the receiving ability of Clark and Flowers could very well provide a major difference.
A new chapter to the history books will be added in a shut-down-the-town type of game.
With high hopes, both heavily involved targets are ready to try and give their side an edge.
The rivalry means everything to the receivers who bleed their school colors along with their family.
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