For Bradley Central an otherwise strong season took a sudden plunge last Friday, but there is still time to right the ship.
After a stunning 29-27 upset by Class 3A Polk County to open the season, the Bears rebounded with four straight wins, including shocking state-ranked (4A) Signal Mountain.
Sitting at 4-1, Bradley then dropped back-to-back heartbreakers to district rivals Ooltewah and Cleveland by a combined three points. Reeling from the devastating losses, the Bears had their worst performance of the season last week when their oldest rival, McMinn County, came to town for homecoming. The result was a 28-8 whipping to make it a three-game slide.
“We are going to come out and play Friday night. The ‘team’ from last week is not going to show up,” declared Bradley head coach Damon Floyd Wednesday. “This team will respond and get back to playing like we are capable of.
“This is our last home game of the season, Senior Night and the 1,000th game in Bear history. We well come out ready to play and represent the program with pride,” he added.
Despite slipping to 4-4 overall, Bradley is still in the hunt for a fourth straight TSSAA playoff berth, but must win its final two games to secure a postseason spot. The Bears, who face fourth-ranked East Hamilton (7-1) in the regular season finale Nov. 1, could also possibly make the playoffs with a split over the next two weeks, but that might be a long shot.
Friday night’s opponent is the Soddy-Daisy Trojans, who despite a 3-5 record and three straight losses to Bradley, come to Bear Stadium with a “chip on their shoulder,” according to coach Floyd.
“They will be after Brett (Standifer), but he’s a Bear now and we will rally around him,” the Bradley mentor expressed. Standifer was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Trojans before transfering to Bradley in January.
The senior signal caller has led the potent Bear offense in both passing and rushing this season. Standifer has completed 124-of-210 passes for 1,635 yards and posted an impressive 16-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has also gained 350 yards on 106 carries, finding the end zone a half dozen times.
As a team, Bradley has gained 2,578 yards and put 208 points on the scoreboard, for a 26 points per game average.
Senior wideouts Cal Pickel and Dee Crisp have led the team with 556 and 511 receiving yards and combined for 14 touchdown catches. The duo have also connected on a pair of TD tosses with Crisp throwing to Pickel for 36- and a 54-yard scores against Riverdale and Cleveland respectively.
Making several circus catches, junior Daniel Clark has also helped out the Bear passing attack with 21 catches for 332 yards and a score. Sophomore Tyler Carpenter has also gotten into the aerial act with seven catches for 127 yards, including a TD.
Senior Logan Fetzner has 364 yards of total offense this season with 67 carries for 283 yards, plus 10 receptions for 81 more.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebackers Jordan Timmons and Eduardo Trevino led the way with 87 and 71 total hits respectively. Timmons, who is currently playing with a cast on his hand, has eight tackles for loss and a trio of takeaways, while Trevino, who missed the first half of the season, has 31 solo tackles, four stops behind the line of scrimmage and caused a fumble.
Senior safety Baylor Terrell (62 tackles, 4.5 TFL), sophomore linebacker DJ Moyse (60 tackles, 7 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 takeaway), Clark (59 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 takeaway) and junior defensive end Dalton Cooley (56 tackles, 14 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 caused fumbles) have also been mainstays on the Black-and-Gold defense this season.
Soddy-Daisy is led by QB Hunter Maynor, who has completed 98-of-178 passes for 1,253 yards and a dozen touchdowns, but has been intercepted eight times.
“Their quarterback has been very accurate and they have a very shifty running back with pretty good speed,” commented coach Floyd. “They run an offense that is very similar to ours. They are pretty balanced in their attack.”
Tre Carter has been Maynor’s main target this season, pulling in 30 passes for 501 yards and seven scores.
“Defensively they run a three-man front and sometimes stunt a four guy,” Floyd related. “They will probably try to bracket Dee (Crisp).”
Soddy started out the season with back-to-back victories over Hixson and Red Bank, but had dropped six straight since, although one was overturned when it was discovered Tyner had used an ineligible player.
“Soddy will come in ready to play. They aren’t going to make the playoffs, so beating us would be a very big deal for them,” coach Floyd commented. “We are thinking about ourselves. We want to show that last week’s game was not representative of who this team is.
“We are going to be honoring a great group (17) of seniors, who have a lot to be proud of,” he added. “They have a chance to become the first senior class in school history to make the playoffs all four years they were here.
“These guys (seniors) are a great group of kids. Never in trouble. They get good grades. They do the right thing on and off the field,” Floyd praised. “We want to come out on their final home game and honor them with a good win.”
Pregame festivities will begin at 7 p.m., with kickoff slated for 7:30.