Offensive Player of the Year - Kolten Gibson
From hard hitters to record-setting quarterbacks and even nationally ranked receivers, this past high school football season had no shortage of high-quality talent on Bradley County's trio of teams.
To honor those achievements, the Cleveland Daily Banner has put together the first All Bradley County Team since the early 1980s.
Comprising the list are 27 standout players, a coach and several honorable mentions.
Bradley Central head man Damon Floyd was named Coach of the Year, while Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson and Bear linebacker Jay Person took the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
After taking over a program that had gone 9-41 in its previous five seasons, including 1-19 the two before he took over, Floyd has rebuilt the proud Bear program and led it to the TSSAA playoffs each of the last eight seasons.
His 12th season at the helm proved to be his best. The team's 10-win total was its first since 1980, as the state-ranked squad advanced to the state quarterfinals.
“I am very fortunate,” said Coach Floyd, who is 73-59 as the "Papa Bear" and became the second-winningest coach in the 102-year-old storied program. “I have been blessed to coach a very talented, hardworking and tough team. They were very unselfish and enjoyed Friday nights together.”
Despite having his top three wide receivers graduate from the year before, Gibson didn’t seem to pay any mind.
The four-year starter completed 256-of-426 passes for 3,341 yards and 36 touchdowns, while carrying the ball 134 times for 681 yards (5.1 ypc) and seven scores.
Gibson’s 626 total yards (526 passing, 100 rushing) against Stone Memorial ranks second in state history and was the second game of his career with eight touchdowns.
“It means a lot to be given this honor, considering how much talent is in Bradley County right now,” said Gibson, who finished his career with a Southeast Tennessee record 117 touchdowns (89 passing, 28 rushing). “I was lucky to have the receivers and offensive line I had this year. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Meanwhile, bringing the big hits into opponents' backfields was Person.
The three-year Bear starter and Appalachian State commit had four double-digit tackle performances to go with a four-sack game against Rhea County, which helped put together a career mark of 107 tackles, 14 sacks and 25 tackles for loss.
“To win DPOY is a huge honor,” said the Bradley outside linebacker, who finished his career with 270 tackles (54 TFL), 24 sacks and 11 takeaways. “This means a lot to not only me, but my team and my family. I wouldn’t be where I am without my teammates and all of my coaching staff.”
The post-Cole Copeland era at Bradley began with a bang as Dylan Standifer stepped in and set new single season passing records.
With spot-on accuracy, Standifer completed 189-of-268 (.705) passes for 3,156 yards and 28 touchdowns. After a four-interception debut, the junior gunslinger went on to throw 27 touchdowns with only three pickoffs over his last 12 games.
Sneakily, the 5-foot-10 signal caller ran for just 184 yards on 94 carries, 10 of which found paydirt.
Cleveland’s Keegan Jones and Bradley’s Adam Mullis put forth quite a show this season combining for 10 games with 100-plus total yards.
The Blue Raider senior speedster (4.44 in the 40-yard dash) led all area backs with 1,209 rushing yards and 9.4 yards per carry average. Jones finished with 1,718 all-purpose yards (132 receiving, 377 kick return) and 17 touchdowns.
He had 326 all-purpose yards and four scores in a 67-47 win over Walker Valley.
Lowering his shoulder pads, Mullis rumbled for 862 yards (5.7 ypc), five scores and three 100-plus rushing performances.
The senior's career best outing was a 171-yard, two-score effort to help top Dobyns-Bennett in the playoffs.
Between Walker Valley’s Zeke Westfield, Bradley’s Lameric Tucker and Cleveland’s Micaleous Elder, a total of 39 receiving scores were hauled in this season.
Westfield’s leaping ability at 6-foot-5 helped the first-year senior starter amaze for a state best 105 catches for 1,624 yards (14 TD). Those totals ranked 8th and 13th in the nation, respectively.
His 310-yard, three-score performance helped the Mustangs take down a Red Bank team that advanced to the state semifinals this season.
Bradley’s UT-Chattanooga commit broke the 5,000-yard career receiving barrier with 77 catches for 1,604 yards (20th in country) and 12 scores. Tucker also found the end zone four times on the ground to finish his career with 38 career touchdowns.
The Blue Raiders junior slot receiver darted his way past opposing defensive backs to the tune of 41 catches for 785 yards (19.1 ypc).
Elder scored 13 times through the air and seven times on the ground, while totaling 1,288 yards from scrimmage.
Selected to the all-county team were Christopher Cash (6-foot-6, 300) and Tucker Bentley (6-foot-3, 225) from Bradley, Caleb Flickner (6-foot-3, 270) and Kevin Martinez (6-foot-2, 260) for Cleveland and Walker Valley's Koby Hooker (5-foot-11, 280).
Cash, an Air Force Academy commit, and Bentley led the way up front for a Bear offense that scored 419 points (32.2 per game) and averaged 248 passing and 156 rushing yards per game for 5,093 total yards.
Martinez and Flickner were a part of the Blue Raider front paving the way for 421 points (38.3 per game) along with 215 rushing and 194 passing yards per contest (4,500 total).
Hooker was stout up front for the Mustangs, who averaged 33 points per game and the state’s second best mark of 334.4 passing yards per game. WV had 4,407 total offensive yards this season.
Bradley Central do-it-all athlete Nick Howell fought his way to a stellar season, as he caught 36 passes for 537 yards and seven touchdowns while carrying the ball 81 times for 423 yards and eight scores.
The senior totaled 204 yards (140 rushing, 64 receiving) and a score in a 27-21 victory against Cleveland. His powerful touchdown run against the Blue Raiders was posted on MaxPreps’ Twitter page.
All COUNTY DEFENSE
Bradley seniors Kevin Gentry and Henley Headrick make up the front line along with Walker Valley’s Cody Duggan, also a senior.
Gentry finished with 56 tackles (11 TFL) and seven sacks, while Headrick had 48 stops (9 TFL) and five sacks for a defense that brought down opposing quarterbacks 37 times behind the line of scrimmage.
Duggan led a young Mustang defense with 112 total tackles (72 solo), 12 tackles for loss and four sacks.
A Blue Raider trio of Logan Stutzman, Chase Oliver and Clark Lockerby combined for 236 tackles, 16 sacks, 26 TFLS and created 10 turnovers.
Oliver’s pressured resulted in 12 sacks, while Stutzman caused seven turnovers and Lockerby finished with 88 tackles.
Also selected to the team was Bradley’s Mason Mitchell. The sure-tackler finished with 66 stops (8 TFL) and forced two turnovers.
The Bear senior also blocked a kick and recovered a blocked punt (by teammate Parker Johnson) for a touchdown.
The cornerback combination of Bradley’s Jeffery Brewer and Cleveland’s David Dorsey gave opposing receivers fits this past season.
Brewer was one of only two defensive backs to hold WV’s Westfield under 100 yards this season.
BC’s top corner finished with 54 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and nine pass break ups.
Dorsey also had four interceptions and led all defensive backs with 68 tackles.
With great trust to not let anything past them, Bradley’s Jake Presley and Cleveland’s Romeo Wykle were game-changing forces at safety.
Presley finished with 62 tackles (4 TFL) and one takeaway.
On top of leading the greater Chattanooga area in yards per catch (28.2), as Wykle caught 19 passes for 536 yards and eight scores, he also came away with 51 stops (5 TFL), two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
One of the most overlooked, but very valuable areas of the game is a standout special teams player.
Bradley linebacker and long snapper Cole Reyher was key in stopping kick returners in their tracks, as he came away with 37 tackles on the season and also had one takeaway.
With a game-winning 26-yard field goal in the final seconds on the road to upset state-ranked Red Bank, Walker Valley's Charlie Swafford earned the kicking honor with his accuracy.
He was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts this season, with a long of 31, and converted 36-of-38 PAT’s.
Bradley: WR Stephen Muhonen (47-645, 3 TD), LB Hayden Owenby (71 total tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks), DB Damon "Deuce" Floyd (56 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 PD, INT), OL Tyler Collier (6-foot-4, 285) K Clay Shoemaker (4 FG, 45 XP).
Cleveland: LB Logan Strickland (85 tackles, 2 TFL), QB Kellye Cawood (28 total TDs), DL Victor Dodd (40 tackles, 3 sacks). K Harshil Patel (41 yd FG long, 42 XP)
Walker Valley: WR Brock Gibson (35-622 10 TD), LB Kole Hall (86 tackles, 5 TFL).