Bryce Copeland is now healthy and his production is up.
The Bradley Central quarterback threw for 198 yards and ran for another 155 and was selected as the Times Free Press high school football Player of the Week. In an early homecoming game, he threw three TD passes and ran for two more in a 52-14 win over visiting Soddy-Daisy.
"We knew all along that he could help our running game, but last year because of a pulled groin we had him so taped up he could barely walk," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "This year he's healthy, and that has made a big difference in our offense."
Copeland being able to run has been a boost to Bradley's offense, especially its option game, and the Bears put up 493 yards of offense against the Trojans.
"He started as a freshman so he knew what he has done last year and we put a lot on him them. We're about as balanced as we have been since I've been here. I'll say this, though, if something happened to him our offense would change totally," Floyd said.
The play-calling might also change.
"He's had the green light to change something at the line of scrimmage. Most of it is stuff we have worked on all week, but he'll come to the sidelines and offer input," Floyd said.
And while his health has improved, so has his size and his arm strength.
"He put on 20-25 pounds of muscle over the muscle. We were starting him last year at 145 pounds and he's throwing better. He has always been fairly accurate but this year he probably has a little more zip on his passes. We have all the confidence in the world in him."
The Bears make their first road trip this week after starting the season 3-0 with all three games at home. They'll play at East Hamilton.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...