After a few weeks of conditioning, plus a week of banging on each other, Bradley Central and Cleveland High’s football teams got to hit somebody in a different colored jersey over the weekend.
“We did some good things. We made some mistakes, but overall we had a pretty good night,” assessed Bear head coach Damon Floyd. “The main thing we were trying to do was get a good look at who will help us on Friday nights.”
Hosting their annual five-way scrimmage to wrap up the first week of practice in full pads, Bradley squared off against teams from Baylor, Knox Powell, East Ridge and McMinn Central in 24-play sessions Saturday.
Teams got a dozen offensive plays, starting on their own 30-yard line. Regardless of the outcome, whether they scored, turned the ball over or didn’t make a first down, they continued on offense until their 12 plays were done. At the end of one offensive set, the teams switched sides and played defense for a dozen more plays.
Going against East Ridge, which is picked to win the District 5-AA title this season, the Bears and Pioneers battled to a scoreless tie, with neither team able to break through the other’s secondary.
The longest offensive play for Bradley in the pairing was a 20-yard run by sophomore quarterback Cole Copeland on the final Bear play to move the ball near the Pioneer 30-yard line. East Ridge’s offense was able to penetrate inside the 30 of the Bears, but couldn’t score.
In its second session, the hosts squared off against McMinn Central and were able to find the end zone. After driving to the Charger 1-yard line, a bobbled snap bounced into the end zone and Copeland was able to fall on it for the score.
In the third session of the evening, the Bears battled former Bradley coach John Allen’s new team from Knoxville. The hosts were able to claim another 1-0 victory when Copeland and senior wide receiver Daniel Clark connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass, while the Bear defense held the Panthers scoreless.
Wrapping up the varsity action, Bradley battled the always-tough Baylor squad to a scoreless session. The Bear defense was able to thwart a Red Raider threat with a takeaway inside the Bradley 5-yard line.
“Although we didn’t score a whole lot, I was pleased with our offense,” commented Coach Floyd. “We were able to move the ball consistently.”
“Defensively, we missed some assignments and didn’t read our keys well. In our [particular] defense, that’s very important. We have a lot of inexperience, so we’ll have to get better quickly,” he added.
The players were the only ones getting in some game-situation work as the Tri-County Football Officials Association had about 30 men in stripes working in and out of the action.
Cleveland High made a trip to Alcoa Friday to take on the 13-time state champion Tornadoes in a practice session.
“They knocked us around pretty good, but it was a good day,” declared Blue Raider head coach Ron Crawford. “It was a very physical practice. We used several different formats, so it was hard to keep up with scores, but that’s not what was important.”
“We had some kids out, so we got a chance to look at some other kids in game situations,” he added. “Overall, it was a very beneficial day.”
Cleveland will entertain Baylor Wednesday for its next scrimmage, while Bradley will make a trip up Interstate 75 to Knox Webb Thursday evening.