Bradley Central junior Ricky McCleary (2) tries to break away from a Walker Valley defender for some of his 141 yards in Friday night's 41-2 victory before a near capacity crowd at Bear Stadium. (Banner Photo: Robert Cannon)
Veteran head coach Damon Floyd told his Bradley Central squad to forget last week's aberrational performance in Knoxville and start the season fresh.
That's just what his 10th-ranked "sleuth" did when cross-county rival Walker Valley came to Bear Stadium Friday evening.
After getting shutout for just the second time in a decade by eighth-ranked Farragut the week before, Bradley bounced back big, putting 43 points on the scoreboard, two of which were for the Mustangs.
While the Black-and-Gold defense completely corralled the young Herd from the north end of the county, the only points for the visitors in the 41-2 outcome came on a Bear miscue that resulted in a safety.
"We're obviously happy with the win, but we still had several mistakes we need to correct," proclaimed Floyd, who is now 13-1 in "County Conflicts" against the Mustangs.
"We did a lot of good things, but honestly I'm frustrated some because there's a lot of little things we didn't — too many penalties, missed blocks, missed tackles, missed assignments. It's a good win, but there's a lot of stuff we still have to fix.
"We've got to be more consistent, especially next week," he assessed.
While the Bears (1-1) will entertain Ooltewah (1-1) in the Region 2-6A opener, Walker Valley (0-2) will make its third straight road trip, heading across the Tennessee River to Rhea County (1-0) Friday.
The Owls are coming off a hard-fought 35-34 loss at 13th-ranked Science Hill, while the 14th-ranked Golden Eagles breezed past Brainerd 35-14.
Wanting to get the bad taste our of their mouths from the previous week, Bradley wasted no time, scoring on its first two possessions Friday.
After sophomore Tray Curry returned the opening kickoff to the Bear 39, all-state quarterback Dylan Standifer hit junior Saylor Clark for a quick seven yards to the left sideline before swinging the ball to Curry in the right flat for what appeared to be a 54-yard touchdown.
However, the side judge said Curry stepped out of bounds at the 10 and a five-yard penalty before the next snap moved the ball back to the 15.
Junior Ricky McCleary scampered for five yards before Curry, who received an offer to play for Virginia Tech earlier in the day, ran it in from 10 yards out on a jet sweep.
After the Bear defense forced the first of seven three-and-outs on the night, Bradley needed just five plays to find paydirt again, this one on a perfectly thrown 36-yard bomb from Standifer to senior Ethan Vaughn, who caught it in stride at the goalline with just 3:43 gone off the game clock.
The hosts also put points on the board in their next offensive possession, but it was for the wrong team.
Forced to punt from its own 17, the Bear snap sailed over Standifer's head and bounced through and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Bradley tacked on a second-quarter score after senior Parker Johnson stripped the ball lose on a sack and classmate Kahlil Lamberth recovered the Mustang fumble.
Putting together an eight-play drive that covered 55 yards, Standifer carried the ball in from the 1 with 2:45 on the clock for a 20-2 halftime advantage.
After the band performances during the intermission, the Bears found the end zone three more times, while holding the Mustangs to just one net rushing yard in the second half.
Standifer and Clark hooked up on a pair of 29-yard touchdown tosses, the first coming right after senior Cole Reyher recovered a Herd fumble on a muffed punt return attempt.
"Dylan (Standifer) had a big game connecting with Saylor (Clark) and Tray (Curry). Last week they were out of sync, but tonight they looked much better. This isn't 7-on-7 or scrimmages, so it's a little different and they'll get better together as we get them more reps on Friday nights."
Standifer completed 13-of-17 passes for 202 yards and a trio of scores. Clark and Curry both hauled in seven receptions for 76 and 79 yards respectively.
The other Bear score came on a 26-yard dash by McCleary, who finished with career-high 141 yards on 17 carries.
"Ricky ran the ball well and our offensive line did a good job for the most part," praised Coach Floyd.
"Defensively, we were able to get them into a lot of long yardage situations. We had to adjust some of our gap assignments in the second half and that really helped."
Reyher finished with eight solo tackles, including a pair behind the line of scrimmage and a sack.
Senior linebacker Hayden Owenby was in on a half dozen hits, including four solos, a sack and a TFL. Junior Kam Arrowood collected five tackles, with a sack.
The Bear defense sacked the Mustang QB a half dozen times while surrendering just 190 yards of total offense.
Walker Valley signal caller Griffin Broome completed 16-of-29 passes for 133 yards, but was held to just 21 yards on 23 carries.
Junior Eli Hancock topped the 'Stang receiving corp with seven catches for 82 yards, while Reid Gibson and Brody Swafford pulled in four and three receptions for 29 and 28 yards respectively.
Senior Clint Davis led the WV defense with 11 total tackles, including seven solos, while sophomore Skyy Craig was right behind him, also with seven solos in 10 tackles.
Junior Kellar Carson made eight total hits, with a pair of sacks, while senior Chris Crenshaw, plus sophomores Kallum Lowe and Christian Vandusen were in on seven hits apiece. Crenshaw also had 1.5 sacks, plus he and Vandusen made two TFL apiece.
After getting 90 yards on a dozen carries the week before in a 40-28 loss to Chattanooga Central, sophomore Heath Tanksley was held to only 39 yards on 12 rushes.
"We bounced back well after the way we played the first week," remarked Floyd. "This was a good way to turn it around and get ready for the rest of the season, especially with the region starting next week."
Walker Valley 2 0 0 0 — 2
Bradley Central 13 714 7 — 41
BC — Tray Curry 10 run (kick failed), 10:35
BC — Ethan Vaughn from Dylan Standifer 36 pass (Clay Shoemaker kick), 8:17
WV — safety, ball snapped over punter's head, out of end zone, 6:17
BC — Standifer 1 run (Shoemaker kick), 2:42
BC — Saylor Clark 29 pass from Standifer (Shoemaker kick), 3:11
BC — Ricky McCleary 26 run (Shoemaker kick), :59
BC — Clark 29 pass from Standifer (Shoemaker kick), 10:54
First Downs WV 13 BC 18
Rushes-Yards WV 36-57 BC 33-189
Passing WV 133 BC 208
Total Yards WV 190 BC 397
Comp-Att-Int WV 16-29-0 BC 15-20-1
Punts-Avg.WV 8-31.3 BC 3-36.0
Fumbles-Lost WV 2-2 BC 2-2
Penalties-Yards WV 9-80 BC 10-95
Heath Tanksley 12-39
Griffin Broome 23-21
Eli Hancock 1- -3
Ricky McCleary 17-141 TD,
Kahlil Lambreth 4-22
Dylan Standifer 8-14 TD
Tray Curry 2-10 TD
Parker Johnson 2-2 (BC)
Griffin Broome 16-29-0, 133
Dylan Standifer 13-17-0, 202, 3 TDs
Tucker Pope 0-1-1, 0
Eli Hancock 7-82
Reid Gibson 4-29
Brody Swafford 3-28
Heath Tansley 2- -1
Tray Curry 5-79
Saylor Clark 5-76 2 TDs
Ethan Vaughn 2-44 TD
Ricky McCleary 1-3
Walker Valley 0-2
Bradley Central 1-1
Bradley Central senior noseman Parker Johnson (20 knocks the ball loose while sacking Walker Valley quarterback Griffin Broome (2), forcing a turnover the Bears converted into a score in Friday's "County Conflict." (Banner Photo: Robert Cannon)