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Cleveland vs Bradley Central Preview

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It was 2014.

Austin Massey and Jake Gibson were the quarterbacks for the Blue Raiders that season.

It was the year following Cleveland’s final four run to State with now-ETSU quarterback Austin Herink under center.

Ron Crawford was the head coach in his final season, and the year ended with a loss to Oak Ridge in the playoffs.

Barack Obama was still president.

John Legend’s hit All Of Me was the number one song on the charts.

This was the last year Cleveland beat Bradley in football.

It’s been a similar story for the past few years. Cleveland lost close ones at Bradley in 2015 and 2017, but got hammered in 2016. There’s no denying that from any Cleveland player.

It just means they’re hungrier than ever.

 

OFFENSE

Cleveland:

The Blue Raider offense looked really good for three quarters on Friday. Jackson Moore looked comfortable in the pocket, the run game set up the play action passing game, and somehow, Robert Flowers found himself wide open time and time again.

Moore’s throws mayn’t have been perfect spirals, but they were accurate and on time. Throughout the season, the offense has been inconsistent, but if the Moore-Flowers combo is alive on Friday night, Cleveland will have a good shot at finally beating Bradley again.

X-Factor:

Evan Neal, OT: You don’t usually see an offensive lineman named an X-factor. In fact, this may just be the first time. But the sophomore lineman has shown great signs of growth this season from what he was week 1. He’s a raw product, but he held his own against D1-caliber-players against Knox Catholic. If Neal continues his positive incline, Moore will have more time to throw and more time to find his athletic receivers.

Bradley Central:

If practice goes well this week, the Bears should have Tray Curry back, so they’re going to be firing on all cylinders Friday night. Curry is at least 6’4, has 3 power 5 offers, and is only 14(!!!) years old. If he is back for Bradley Central, David Dorsey will likely be locked on him all night long. You could see Dorsey take him nearly completely out of the equation. That’s how good Dorsey is.

But the Bears’ all state-QB Dylan Standifer has many weapons offensively, and running back Ricky McCleary is no joke either. The Bears have averaged 23 points a game over their first three games.

X-Factor:

Ethan Vaughan, WR: Vaughan is listed as the WR3 for the Bears offense this year, but he certainly has played like a go-to option. He’s made several highlight plays already, and if Tray Curry is even slightly limited, he’ll see his targets increase. Vaughan is a blue-collar guy who could definitely make an impact on Friday night. 

DEFENSE

Cleveland:

David Dorsey is the best defensive back in the county. I’d put that on my life’s savings. The senior has 4 interceptions in 3 games, and very well could have 5 if he had brought down his 3rd one-handed-pick in as many games on Friday. He completely shut down premier target Adam Jones this past week, and he looks to do the same against a talented Bradley Central receiving core. David Dorsey is going to have an impact on the game Friday night one way or another. Whether it be another interception, another big play broken up, or another punt return taken to the house, he’s going to show up. But one thing Cleveland has to improve on this Friday is the run defense.

The Knox Catholic hurry-up offense definitely had them gassed, and they weren’t granted any rest in the fourth quarter because of the offense going cold, but Deondre Jarmon had his way with the Cleveland defense in that second half. I expect them to be much improved on Friday night.

X Factor:

Alex Higgins, DL: The senior defensive lineman showed up big-time in crucial moments on Friday night. There was a string of plays where he was repeatedly in the backfield within seconds. If he can get going like that again against Bradley Central, Cleveland is going to have a better chance to win the game. When Higgins is playing well, the defense seems to follow suit. 

Bradley Central:

Last year, the Bears had senior defenders to the likes of Jeffery Brewer, Jay Person, and Jake Presley. This year, they’ve got players like Hayden Ownbey, Parker Johnson, and Cole Rehyer.

They’ve got their hands full, but they’re definitely no slouch. They shut the Walker Valley offense out earlier this year. Yes, the Mustangs are struggling this year, but a shutout is a shutout. (The 2 points was on a bad snap over the Bradley punter’s head) Look for the Bears defense to “bear down” once again.

X Factor:

Parker Johnson, DL: Johnson is a senior defensive lineman for the Bears. He’s not the tallest defender for sure, but he’s strong and smart. He’s going to play a crucial role in whether the Cleveland run game get going or not. If he can beat the Cleveland interior O-Line, it’s going to be a long night for the Blue Raiders.

It’s going to be a classic on Friday. Both of these teams are a lot better than what their record tells us. Both teams have had injuries to key players. Both of these teams have had to face a state powerhouse the first 3 games. And both of these teams are hungry for a win this Friday.

For Bradley, they’re used to beating Cleveland. It’s become the “norm” for them.

For Cleveland, it’s all about rewriting history. Can they reign triumphant over the Bears on Friday? Time will tell.

So, buckle in. Get ready.

Bradley-Cleveland is back.

About the Writer
Drew Cook, Producer

Drew Cook is a senior at Cleveland High School. He’s been a part of the CHSLive program since 8th grade. Drew’s the play-by-play commentator for football and basketball games for CHSLive. He’s also heavily involved in Westmore Church of God. He sings in the praise band and has a leadership role in his youth drama team. Drew plans to continue his dream of becoming a sports journalist for ESPN after high school. After graduation, he will be attending Lee University in the Fall of 2019, majoring in Journalism and Sports Management.

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