With the equipment and jerseys tucked away, the Friday night lights dark and nine TSSAA state champions crowned, all is quiet on the Tennessee high school football front.Before Mother Nature gets …
With the equipment and jerseys tucked away, the Friday night lights dark and nine TSSAA state champions crowned, all is quiet on the Tennessee high school football front.
Before Mother Nature gets winter settled in, it's time to honor the gridiron warriors who kept the field ablaze for local fans, earning a spot on the 2018 All Bradley County Team.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
With a strong arm and relentless drive, Bradley Central senior quarterback Dylan Standifer averaged 225 total yards per game to go with an area best 27 total touchdowns.
"Being a Bear means everything to me," said Standifer, who found the end zone 77 times (52 passing, 18 rushing, 7 receiving) in his prep career. "Bradley is a representation of so many people. I could not be more thankful to have led this team."
With an ability to carve up a defense with precision passing (.691 career completion percentage) and timely wheels, the dual-threat field general backed up an all-state junior season that saw him set several records for the storied Bear program with a highlight-filled senior campaign.
This past season the 5-10, 170-pound signal caller completed 165-of-245 passes (67.3) for 2,068 yards and 19 TDs.
The Lee University baseball signee also rushed 102 times for 402 yards and seven scores. He also punted 35 times for 36.1 average, with a long of 46 yards.
An All-Region performer for the third straight season, he lead a Bear offense that gained 4,180 yards and put 334 points on the scoreboard while making their ninth straight trip to the TSSAA playoffs.
In a 42-8 win at home over Region 4-5A champ Soddy-Daisy, Standifer threw for 281 yards and rushed for 75 yards in a three-touchdown effort in a game in which Bradley put forth a season-high 507 total yards of offense.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The heart and center of the Bears defense did not let much past him as senior Hayden Ownbey was a stout presence at middle linebacker.
Ownbey finished with at least one tackle for loss in all but two games and posted double-digit tackles in three games. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder led the county with 47 solo stops, plus was in on 29 other tackles.
The defensive captain and three-year starter made 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, plus had four sacks and 10 QB hurries.
"Being considered a leader for our defense is an honor that means a lot to me," Ownbey said. "I can't brag on our coaches enough. They make playing for them fun. They help us have an extra edge every week. They deserve all of the credit for helping us get to the level we have along with those who set the tone before us."
COACH OF THE YEAR
With a 65-38 overall record and 37-18 region mark since 2010, Bradley Central has seen a complete rejuvenation of its football program with nine straight TSSAA playoff appearances.
Over the past four seasons the Bears are 8-0 against Cleveland and Walker Valley with a 36.8-15.5 average margin of victory.
"Bradley is a unique place," remarked veteran Bradley Central mentor Damon Floyd after winning his second straight Coach of the Year award.
"I am honored to be a part of the program. Each year we try to give relentless effort and make the ones that wore the 'B' before us proud alumni, whether it be on the football field, in the weight room, classroom or out in the community.
"It takes a lot of unselfish people buying into roles to understand every part of the program is important."
A record-setting running back for the Bears in the mid-1990s before playing defensive back for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Floyd took over a Bradley program in 2006 that had only won nine games in its previous five years.
Without the drive from this often under appreciated group, running lanes and clean pockets for big pass plays would have severely lacked.
Despite being thrown into the fire, a brand-new starting offensive line for the Bears led the way with three selections.
Junior left tackle Jared Fox (6-foot-4, 310) led the way with 23 "pancake blocks" and an 89 percent grade on the line.
Bradley averaged nearly 200 yards a game on the ground as senior left guard Trevor Wallace (6-foot-2, 215), grading out at 85 percent, while and junior center Jacob Tipton (5-foot-10, 225) was right behind at 82 percent.
With a meanness up front, Cleveland senior linemen Caleb Flickner (6-foot-2, 290) led the entire area with 30 pancake blocks, one of which made MaxPreps' website. Flickner graded out at 87 percent.
Walker Valley senior Spencer Wilson (5-foot-8, 200) started the season as a blocking tight end, and he became a powerful rushing threat at the end of the season, averaging five yards per carry and nearly 60 rushing yards per game over his last three outings.
Ricky "Sweet Feet" McCleary became a true workhorse back, totaling 1,191 yards and 12 touchdowns on 190 touches in his junior season for the Bears. The speedster also hauled in nine receptions for another 67 yards and a score.
Despite dealing with a turf toe injury, McCleary accumulated 133 yards and four scores to extend the Bear winning streak to four over the Blue Raiders.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound back also put forth totals of 184, 180, 172 and 141 yards against Heritage, William Blount and Science Hill and Walker Valley. His long run run from scrimmage was 52 yards against Heritage.
With a low-center of gravity (5-foot-6, 175) and a knack for embracing contact, Cleveland senior running back Jasiah Bowman rushed for a team-high 525 yards and six touchdowns.
Bowman rumbled to a season-best 101 yards on 17 totes against William Blount, while he scored twice on the ground against Walker Valley and Heritage.
Playmaking wide receivers develop in Bradley County at a very frequent rate, as was the case this past season.
Bradley Central junior Saylor Clark averaged six catches for 85 receiving yards and one score per game. Clark provided consistency and big plays, finishing with five 100-yard games.
In a 21-7 win over McMinn County he hauled in 10 of Standifer's 11 completions for 102 yards and a score, while Clark landed a season-best performance with six grabs for 140 yards (76 long) and two scores in a 42-35 thrilling victory over Rhea County. He also had two touchdown performances against Ooltewah and Walker Valley.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound All-Region 2 performer finished with 67 receptions for 934 yards (13.9 average) for 11 TDs.
Also named to the All-Region team, Cleveland junior Robert Flowers led all receivers with 13 total touchdowns and an average close to 24 yards per catch.
In the season finale playoff battle, he hauled in seven passes for 178 yards and a score on the road against Farragut.
The 6-foot-4 Blue Raider receiver nearly helped land a monumental victory at Knox Catholic, where he went for 147 yards (68 long) on five catches and two scores.
In 10 games, Flowers averaged an area best 87.9 yards per game despite coming on just 3.9 catches.
The Bears presented another nightmare matchup for opposing defenses with sophomore Tray Curry.
The 6-foot-5 Curry, who has already received several Division I football offers, averaged 66.3 yards per game and scored five times.
Curry's standout performance came in a 10-catch, 123-total yard performance against Maryville, in which he reeled in an 80-yard touchdown pass just before halftime.
He finished the season with 51 catches for 562 yards and four scores, plus he carried the ball 26 times for 101 yards and a TD. Curry also completed a pair of halfback passes for 88 yards, one coming up just shy of the goalline.
Operating an offense which lost the most out of any in the area from 2017, Cleveland senior Jackson Moore played with grit.
He totaled 20 touchdowns, while he threw for over 200 yards on three occasions and rushed for a season-high 94 yards in a second half explosion against William Blount.
Connecting on 100-of-211 aerials for 1,658 yards and 18 scores, Moore had back-to-back three-touchdown efforts against Walker Valley and Heritage. The 6-foot, 190-pounder carried the ball 63 times for 195 yards, finding paydirt twice.
Battling in the trenches, Wilson Benefield broke through for four sacks and forced two turnovers in a two game span in which Cleveland's run defense allowed just 61 combined yards on 62 carries to Walker Valley and Heritage.
The senior 6-foot-1, 230-pound defensive end also recorded a season-high 10 tackles in a playoff-clinching win over McMinn County. He was in on 34 tackles this past season, with eight coming behind the line of scrimmage to go along five takeaways.
Senior teammate Victor Dodd did a little of everything for the Blue Raiders finishing with five touchdowns and eight tackles for loss. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder scored a pair of touchdowns on a kickoff return and a pick six, while he also rushed for a pair of scores and caught a touchdown.
In on 32 total hits, Dodd had a season-high eight tackles, including a pair of TFLs and a sack against Bradley.
Proving to be a standout on both sides of the ball, 5-foot-8, 200-pound Bear senior Parker Johnson was a terror in the middle with 43 total hits, including 24 solo take downs. He had 11 tackles for loss and a half dozen sacks from his noseman position.
As a power, short-yardage running back, Johnson led the team in rushing yards in two games. He finished with 32 carries for 190 yards (5.9 ypc), crossing the goalline four times.
Disguising blitz packages well, Bradley saw sophomore linebacker Kins Hooper share a three-way tie for the team lead with six sacks.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder tied for second on the team with 50 total tackles, 30 of which were solos, plus he had eight TFLs and a takeaway. Hooper recorded eight-tackle outings against Rhea County and Maryville.
Bear senior teammate Cole Reyher shared a tie for the team lead with four takeaways, including his 65-yard touchdown fumble return providing a spark to help beat Rhea County.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder matched Hooper's 50-tackle effort, but had 38 by himself, plus made eight behind the line of scrimmage and trapped opposing quarterbacks four times while trying to pass.
Cleveland freshman Leo Palelei impressed with quickness and strong reads at LB on his way to a pair of 14-tackle performances.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder forced six takeaways, was in on 73 tackles, with 30 solos and five TFL.
Parker Chastain's 16-tackle effort came in a one-point victory over McMinn to clinch a postseason berth for the Blue Raiders.
The 6-foot, 170-pound junior edge linebacker led Bradley County tacklers with 87 stops, with 31 solos and five for loss.
As a part of one of the youngest defenses in the state, Walker Valley sophomore Dyllan Jenkins impressed with a team-high 44 solo tackles in his 85 total tackles. The 5-foot-11, 173-pounder had four TFL, a sack and a takeaway for the Mustangs.
Region 2-6A Defensive Player of the Year David Dorsey was often a quarterback's worst nightmare.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior defensive back for Cleveland intercepted six passes through the first six weeks off the season, and forced two fumbles (recovering one) over the final four games.
He finished with 20 solos in 42 total hits, including a pair behind the line of scrimmage.
Switching sides of the ball for his senior season, Khalil Lambreth forced four takeaways in the Bradley's secondary.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder made 34 solo tackles in his 44 total tally and had four takeaways from his free safety position.
Junior Tucker Still is a 5-foot-11, 175 strong safety net for the Bears with 36 solos in his 44 tackles, plus he had a takeaway.
Clay Shoemaker led the county with 10 touchbacks on kickoffs, plus split the uprights on 35 extra points and a field goal.
He finished his Bradley Central career accounting for 142 points — eight field goals, 118 extra points.
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