BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS
Head coach: Damon Floyd (111-78 here and overall)
Returning starters: 9 offensive; 6 defensive
Last year's record: 7-4, lost in TSSAA Class 6A first round
Key players: Boo Carter (5-11, 200) Sr. ATH/DB, Kaleb Martin (6-1, 185) Sr. QB, Marcus Goree (6-1, 180) Sr. WR/DB, Tito Williams (6-1, 180) Sr. WR/DB, Jarrius Rogers (5-7, 155) Sr. WR/S, Damarius Ballard (6-0, 185) Sr. CB, Mason Goree (6-1, 155) Jr. CB, J'Alan Terry (5-10, 190) Jr. RB, Jackson Wilson (6-0, 190) Sr. RB/LB, Luke Keith (6-5, 265) Sr. OL/DL, Eugene Peterson (6-4, 270) Sr. OL.
Season outlook: The only thing soaring more than the Bears' talent level are the expectations for their season.
As impressive as it is to have nine starters back, what really put them in the discussion to be one of the top teams in 6A are the new additions: Carter, arguably the state's top overall prospect, and Martin, who is committed to Miami (Ohio), solidifies the quarterback spot with versatility. The backfield returns Terry, an 1,100-yard rusher last season, as well as Wilson, who was an all-state selection two years ago after gaining more than 1,800 yards but missed the last nine games of 2022 with an ankle injury.
While so much attention will certainly be paid to Carter, Rogers could be in line for a breakout season. As the second-fastest player on the team, he also has electric potential as a punt returner.
Although three new starters must be found on the defensive front, the secondary is made up of Carter and Marcus Goree — both are committed to Tennessee — plus Williams, who has offers from Duke, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt among others; junior Mason Goree, who recently received an offer from Vanderbilt; and Ballard, who has explosive coverage speed.
"Since Boo arrived, he's been a great teammate, and just from watching him at practice and in scrimmages, he's an unreal competitor and the most explosive player I've ever seen," Floyd said. "I'd say having the amount of talent we do, that should be a good reason to fill the stands every Friday. We should be an exciting team to watch."
Fans won't have to wait long to gauge how good the Bears can be. They open against reigning Class 2A state champion Tyner, then host perennial powerhouse Maryville the following week.
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].