Bradley Central is “jumping from the frying pan into the fire” this week with their first-ever match up against Riverdale, a perennial middle Tennessee powerhouse program.
Still stinging from a stunning upset at Polk County last week, the Bears turn around to host the Warriors, which have missed the playoffs just once (2008) in the last 22 years, won four state titles, finished second five times, gone 259-39 with a dozen 1-loss or undefeated seasons during that span.
After opening the century (2000) with five straight trips to the state title game, Riverdale has advanced to the TSSAA playoff semifinals and quarterfinals three times each, including the last four seasons.
“This is really not the team you want to face coming off a loss like we had last week,” declared Bradley head coach Damon Floyd Wednesday.
The good news is, if you can consider it good news, Riverdale is coming off a 42-7 smack-down loss to its arch-rival Oakland in the season opener.
“Don’t read too much into that,” the Bear coach commented. “Oakland is ranked second in the state and has nine players that have already or will commit to (NCAA) Division I programs, plus half of their (Oakland’s) points came on a kick return, an interception and a fumble recovery that all went for scores.”
“Riverdale will come in here looking for a win to get going in the right direction. We better be ready for a battle,” coach Floyd proclaimed.
The Warriors lost a dozen starters off of last year’s 9-4 squad that advanced to the state quarterfinals before falling to fellow District 7-AAA powerhouse Siegel. Riverdale’s roster numbers are down this season to around just 60 players after rezoning for Murfreesboro’s newest class 6A school Stewarts Creek, which opened this month.
Having to replace a three-year standout starter at quarterback, coach Ron Aydelott has put the ball in the hands of freshman Marquel Odom, who threw the “Pick 6” as well as coughed up the ball while being sacked for Oakland’s two defensive TDs.
Riverdale finished with just 148 yards of total offense, 113 of which came on the ground.
The Warriors’ top offensive weapon is Mariko Odom, who averaged a staggering 14.2 yards per rush on 41 attempts last season and scored eight times. He also averaged 16.7 yards per catch on 18 receptions in 2012.
“Riverdale runs the wing-T and hides the ball very well,” coach Floyd related. “We have got to read our keys and make the tackles all the way to the ground.”
On defense, the Warriors run a 3-4 and “are very big and fast up front, plus their secondary can fly,” according to Floyd. “They are going to come after us.”
In its most lopsided victory ever over Riverdale, Oakland scored on its first play from scrimmage on an 88-yard dash on its way to 306 yards of offense last week, all but 13 of which came on the ground.
Riverdale’s lone score of the evening came on a Ken Collins’ 16-yard run in the second quarter. The play was set up by an Oakland fumble on a muffed punt. All but one touchdown in the contest was scored before halftime.
As for the Bears last week, they evenly split their offensive plays with 21 through the air and another 21 on the ground for 277 total yards, only 52 of which came in the opening two quarters.
“We are going to have to come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning, like we had in the second half last week,” assessed coach Floyd. “We didn’t make any adjustments at halftime (at Polk), we just came back out with intensity and scored two quick touchdowns and then with our backs against the wall scored two more times in the final 3 1/2 minutes.”
New Bradley QB Brent Standifer completed 12-of-21 passes for 198 yards and four TDs, but also threw a couple of interceptions and was sacked four times.
Seniors Cal Pickel and Dee Crisp were his main targets with Pickel hauling in four receptions for 95 yards and a score, while Crisp pulled down three catches for 37 yards and a pair of TDs in the game’s waning minutes.
Senior tailback Logan Fetzner led the rushing attack with 43 yards on seven carries, plus he caught a trio of passes for another 28 yards.
Defensively, Bradley had a half dozen players that were in on eight or more tackles apiece.
Junior Warren Crisp led the way with a pair of solo tackles and eight assists, plus had a pair of QB hurries. Senior linebacker Jordan Timmons had nine total hits, including three solos and 1 1/2 tackles for loss.
Junior Dalton Deal split his eight tackles between solos and assists, with 1 1/2 coming behind the line of scrimmage. Seniors Jackie Black and Baylor Terrell, plus junior Daniel Clark (three solos) also had eight total hits.
Senior Drew Roark and sophomore Colby Alford were in on a half dozen hits, with Roark also recovering a fumble on a special teams play.
“We’re going to have to improve our tackling,” proclaimed coach Floyd after watching Polk bulldozer Zach Miller power his way to 184 total yards and three touchdowns.
“I think the coaching staff took the loss harder than the players, but our seniors aren’t happy,” the Bear mentor stated. “Our captains and seniors had a meeting and expressed their disappointment with last week’s outcome. They don’t want to go through another performance like that again.”
“The bottom line is if we don’t start trusting our teammates and doing our jobs, it could be another one of those games,” coach Floyd assessed. “Even though they lost a lot of players from last year and got beaten handily last week, Riverdale is a very strong program that just reloads and wins year after year.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 Friday evening at Bear Stadium, with the “Left Field Lounge” (located by the baseball field) grill firing up around 5:30 for those wanting a good pre-game meal.