Eight teams spent the morning at the Baylor School while the other eight took the field at Finley Stadium for a chance to play for the championship in the afternoon.
When the dust settled from the morning preliminaries, Bradley Central was the only team from Tennessee to advance to the championship round, joining six teams out of Georgia and a lone Alabama representative.
The other eight teams had to settle for a consolation tournament back at Baylor.
Bradley came into play at a slight disadvantage due to the fact that teams out of Georgia can begin participating in passing leagues as early as June, while teams in Tennessee can’t pick up a ball until July.
“We had to come off a dead period that teams in Georgia don’t have to have. We haven’t even seen the kids for two weeks. So, we knew coming in what we were facing still being in our first week of practice,” stated Bear head coach Damon Floyd.
The Bears kicked off the championship tournament against the Sequoyah Chiefs out of Canton, Ga.
Despite the preseason being young, Bradley’s passing attack showed a lot of promise, and despite the two-hand touch rules there was plenty of physicality on the field.
Early in the 25 minute scrimmage both sidelines cleared as players exchanged words and a few shoves after a particularly physical tangle up.
Bradley weathered the exchanges, both extra curricular and other, and cruised on to win in the opening round.
The Bear defense was tested early in their second match up against North Murray out of Chatsworth, Ga.
The Mountaineers came out firing, rushing to the line and snapping the ball in what was in effect a passing league hurry up offense.
Despite some success early, Bradley put a stop to the North Murray onslaught and quickly reversed the momentum, finding huge success with both the short and long ball.
A win over the Mountaineers put Bradley in the championship game against the Carrollton, Ga., Trojans.
It was a hard fought 25 minutes, but in the end Bradley was not able to overcome the offensive onslaught and a late interception put the final nail in the coffin as the Bears was forced to settle for second place.
“We have a lot of positives that we found today. We lost a lot of skill players from last year that were very productive for us, not only last season but for their entire careers at Bradley,” said Floyd.
“Guys came out here today and showed us that they wanted to compete. We had some guys come up with some big catches and flash some speed. They showed us who wants to fill those important roles on the field.”
The Bears will compete in two more passing leagues scrimmages before full contact drills can begin. The first is Tuesday at Alcoa at 6 p.m. and the second is Thursday at Hixson also starting at 6.
Bradley starts putting the pads on Monday, July 30. They also host their annual five-way scrimmage Aug. 4, plus travel to Knox Webb on Aug. 7.
The Bears are slated to face Red Bank, coached by former Clevleand coach E.K. Slaughter in the annual jamboree at Finley Stadium on Aug. 10.
Regular season play opens up as the Bears make the trip to Benton to face off against the Polk County Wildcats on Aug. 17 in what promises to be a slobberknocker.