Bears look good in 7-on-7 openers

By JOE CANNON Assistant Sports Editor
Posted 7/12/17

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Taking an opportunity to get in some quick competition, Bradley Central’s football team traveled to the north edge of the Peach State for a little 7-on-7 action Tuesday, and …

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Bears look good in 7-on-7 openers

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RINGGOLD, Ga. — Taking an opportunity to get in some quick competition, Bradley Central’s football team traveled to the north edge of the Peach State for a little 7-on-7 action Tuesday, and looked pretty good.

“We did a lot of good things and some bad things, but it was good to get out of the weight room and face somebody other than ourselves,” proclaimed Damon Floyd, who is beginning his 12th season as the Bear head coach.

“We took a varsity and JV (junior varsity) squad and were able to get a lot of people some reps. Our defense, which has a lot of guys back, looked good,” he assessed.

Despite going into the strictly passing action minus former star quarterback Cole Copeland, the two-time all-stater who has moved on to UT-Chattanooga, and heir apparent Dylan Standifer, Floyd put the ball in the hands of incoming freshman Tucker Pope with the varsity squad.

“Tucker did a good job. We were able to get a bunch of receivers some good looks,” the Papa Bear stated. “We were minus Dylan (Standifer), because he’s still in [summer league] baseball until tomorrow (today). Nick Howell (another receiver and quarterback) was out sick and Devin Moore (a running back and slot receiver) won’t be released (from a torn ACL last season) until the 24th (of July).

“You have to remember this is just our second day out of the ‘dead period.’ So it’s really not about ‘judging’ anything right now. It’s about getting some work in.”

Although Floyd explained “we don’t really keep score” in such matchups, longtime Bear historian and radio announcer Gary Ownbey said in the morning session, Bradley beat Hixson 6-1 and the host Heritage squad 3-1 in varsity action in Ringgold, Ga. “The kids also told me the JV team beat Heritage’s varsity as well.”

“We (Bradley) intercepted the ball on the first play against Hixson and had four interceptions in the matchup,” he added. “I only stayed until around noon” because of the hot conditions, he said.

Bradley will play host to a five-way passing league event Thursday evening as Heritage (Ga.), under the direction of former Cleveland High head coach EK Slaughter, Meigs County, Austin-East and state powerhouse Knox Catholic will come to Bear Stadium for a 6 p.m. start.

On Saturday, the Black-and-Gold will head to Finley Stadium in Chattanooga for the big UTC passing league and Big Man competition.

“There will be about 20 teams there from several states for a tournament format,” Floyd explained. “A couple of years ago we made the finals against a team from South Carolina that was ranked 15th in the nation at the time.”

The Bears will be on the road three straight days next week going to 7-on-7 competitions at Soddy-Daisy (Tuesday), Lenoir City (Wednesday) and Alcoa (Thursday).

After being able to put pads on July 24, Bradley will host its annual six-way scrimmage on July 29. The Bears will also have a practice game with Ensworth Aug. 3 (site still to be determined) and at Chattanooga Central Aug. 8.

Instead of going to Chattanooga this year, all three Bradley County teams will participate in the inaugural Southeast Tennessee Kickoff Classic Jamboree in Evensville on Friday, Aug. 11.

Cleveland will face Lenoir City in the opening matchup at 6 p.m., followed by Stone Memorial and Knox Catholic at 7.

Walker Valley and McMinn County will tangle at 8 with Bradley squaring off against the host Rhea County squad in the nightcap at 9.

The teams will play two quarters with a regular clock. Ticket prices for the event are $10.

Polk County will play in a jamboree at Tellico Plains the same night, but the time and opponent are yet to be determined.

The Blue Raiders will host Howard at 5:30 Thursday in a 7-on-7 tussle on their new turf.

Cleveland and Walker Valley will both travel to Dalton, Ga., Friday and Saturday for the big Southeastern 7-on-7 Tournament.

The Wildcats will participate in only one 7-on-7 matchup.

“We will host Murray County (Ga.) next Tuesday (July 18),” explained longtime Polk coach Derrick Davis.

“Everybody knows we don’t pass much, but we wanted to do one to help our defense mainly.”

The new TSSAA gridiron season will kick off on Aug. 17 when Walker Valley faces Chattanooga Central in the second game of a doubleheader at Finley Stadium in the inaugural Erlanger Sports Medicine Chattanooga Kickoff Classic. Bradley, Cleveland and Polk will open the following evening.

The Bears will host reigning state 5A champion Farragut, while the Raiders head back to Evensville to face Rhea County and the Wildcats travel to Copper Basin for the first meeting with their county rivals in a dozen years.

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joe.cannon@clevelandbanner.com

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