The calm before the storm is here.Benny Monroe Stadium is about to be the forefront for battle as another chapter will be added to an eventful history of butting heads between Bradley Central and …
The calm before the storm is here.
Benny Monroe Stadium is about to be the forefront for battle as another chapter will be added to an eventful history of butting heads between Bradley Central and Cleveland.
While competitors live for this kind of rivalry, hoping to tear the other’s hopes and dreams apart, keeping things from getting too heated and not losing control is key.
The Blue Raiders have the advantage in the all-time series, but hope to get in the win column for the first time in four years.
“This is an emotional and special week,” Cleveland head coach Scott Cummings said. “No one can escape this rivalry. It’s at home, it’s when you go to the grocery store, you hear about this game everywhere you go. We have preached to our kids all week to not let drama get the best of them.”
From blocked kicks to the posterized “Rue Goldston leap,” one of the state’s most anticipated rivalries presents a chance for athletes to leave a lasting legacy.
There is no denying both sides enter as hungry as ever for this Region 2-6A clash, which is usually considered the game of the year in Bradley County.
Both teams are trying to move past tough losses to Knox Catholic and Ooltewah, who each scored 21 unanswered to end outcomes decided by eight combined points.
A pair of tough luck 1-2 football teams will lay it on the line, while the Blue Raiders have a region victory and the Bears do not.
“We need to sustain offense better in the fourth quarter and not wear down,” Cummings said. “Our physicality has gotten better. Hopefully some of our labor will start to show. At the end of the day it is a region game that we need to win. That’s what it is all about.”
While Bradley has fallen out of the rankings after starting the season ranked 10th in Class 6A, Cleveland is prepared for a tough encounter.
Five turnovers cost the ‘Big Blue’ in a 28-20 loss to an unbeaten and 10th ranked Bearden squad, which has allowed just 6.8 points per game.
Meanwhile, a 28-14 lead on the road to the defending state champions in second-ranked Knox Catholic (5A) was lost in the final 12 minutes as the Irish’s running game took over.
“You hate moral victories,” Cummings said. “They make you cringe as players and coaches. But there were a lot of positives to take from last week in Knoxville. Hopefully we can come out of the gate with the same intensity and take it all the way through.”
Through just three games, the Bears have often hindered themselves with 13 turnovers.
However, the Blue Raiders know dangerous forces can present themselves at any time.
Cleveland does not want to be the one Dylan Standifer gets going against. So far, the all-state quarterback who set records last season has thrown six interceptions while completing 47-of-79 passes for 551 yards and five scores.
“Bradley has weapons on offense,” Cummings said. “They have two really good receivers and a proven quarterback. We are hoping they will continue to turn it over a little bit. You have to create turnovers because they really can move the ball.”
Last season Bradley gained 443 yards as it made a statement on the ground, highlighted by a monster “truck stick” hit by running back Nick Howell, who gained 186 total yards.
Standifer was nearly flawless as he completed 17-of-20 passes for 227 yards to go with one score and one interception in the 27-21 BC victory decided in the final minute.
The gunslinger and Lee baseball commitment will have a key piece back to the offense he missed against Ooltewah, as 6-foot-5 sophomore receiver Tray Curry returns after recovering from a high-ankle sprain.
Curry has yet to have a true breakout game in his career, after learning under one of the state’s best receiving corps last season. The elite athlete has offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech and Arkansas.
While the Blue Raiders have a lockdown defensive back in senior supreme athlete David Dorsey (4 INT, 7 PD), they don’t plan to shadow him specifically on a standout in junior Saylor Clark (19 catches, 255 yards, 4 TD) or Curry, according to coaches.
“You have to think David will get less and less balls thrown his way,” Cummings said about Dorsey who has shut down receivers all season and not allowed a touchdown catch. “We aren’t going to flip-flop David on Tray or anybody else. We have to have guys step up and answer the challenge. We need others to be ball hawks, too.”
With a strong mindset needed to not break in an emotional bout, the fight for bragging rights around town is here.
“To win this game, we have to control their defensive slanting and blitzing,” Cummings added. “They like to slant a lot and bring their linebackers. Our offensive line has to pick up those guys though they may not be lined up right across from them.
“Defensively, we have to avoid racking up too many missed tackles and limit the explosive plays. Hopefully this is the week everything clicks for us.”
Bradley Central is led defensively by linebacker Hayden Owenby, who has 21 tackles and a pair of sacks, along with Cole Reyher (20 tackles).
Milder weather is expected Friday night, as thousands will gather to watch history in the making.
“We want this game to be classy and as sportsmanlike as possible,” Cummings said. “This rivalry is intense, but we don’t want it to be toxic. It’s too special to put a black eye on it.”
Bradley Central 20 21 20 7 — 68
Cleveland 10 21 30 31 — 92
Bradley Central 22 0 28 14 — 64
Cleveland 7 21 14 42 — 84
First downs 51 43
Rushes-yards 103-473 100-457
Passing yards 581 557
Total yards 1054 1014
Comp-Att-Int 51-83-7 36-63-5
Punts -Ave. 10-35.3 7-36.3
Fumbles-Lost 8-6 4-3
Penalties 29-218 15-255
Rushing: Ricky McCleary 48-271 (5.6 ypc), TD; Dylan Standifer 28-108 (3.9), 2 TDs; Parker Johnson 9-61 (6.8), TD; Ike Phanor 3-22 (7.3); Kahlil Lamberth 4-22 (5.5); Tray Curry 4-16 (4.0), TD (BC): Jeffrey Perez 36-177 (4.9), TD; Josiah Bowman 36-155 (4.3); Jackson Moore 17-97 (5.7) TD; Javaris Bowman 3-30 (10.0), TD; Jay Townsend 1-17 (17.0) (CHS).
Passing: Dylan Standifer 47-79-6 551, 5 TDs (BC): Jackson Moore 35-62-5 525, 4 TDs (CHS).
Receiving: Saylor Clark 19-255 (13.4 ypc), 4 TDs; Tray Curry 9-125 (13.9); Ethan Vaughn 8-112 (14.0), TD; Ashton Boyd 5-32 (6.4); Trentavious Roberts 3-10 (3.3) (BC): Robert Flowers 15-334 (22.3), 4 TDs; Jay Townsend 4-69 (17.3) TD; D’Rhann Thomas 5-68 (13.6); Lael Crisp 5-65 (13.0); DeAndrez Bridges 3-14 (4.7) (CHS).
Defense: Hayden Owenby 21 tackles (12 solos), 3 TFL, 2 sacks; Cole Reyher 20 tackles (17), 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 takeaway; Brandon Adams 13 tackles (11); Tucker Still 13 tackles (9), 1 TFL; Kam Arrowood 11 tackles (8), 2 TFL, 1 sack (BC): Parker Chastain 28 tackles (9), 1 TFL; Leo Palelei 26 tackles (9), 1 TFL, 1 takeaway; Logan Strickland 26 tackles (13), 2 TFL, 1 sack; Money Palelei 22 tackles (8), 1 TFL, 1 sack; Myles Clabough 18 tackles (6), 3 TFL, 1 sack; David Dorsey 14 (6), 2 TFL, 5 takeaways (CHS).
Records: Bradley Central 1-2, 0-1 Region 2-6A; Cleveland 1-2, 1-0 Region 2-6A.
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