CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- After Bradley Central almost lost a lead against Ooltewah last week, the Bears' coaches stressed in practice this week the importance of playing 48 minutes against their next opponent.
County rival Walker Valley just happened to be that next opponent.
The Bears piled up 396 first-half yards in building a 35-point lead and pasted the visiting Mustangs 42-0 on Thursday in a tuneup before Bradley's big clash with Cleveland next week.
Bradley improved to 6-2, 4-0 in District 5-AAA, while the Mustangs dropped to 0-8 overall. They face Rhea County, which is also winless going into a game tonight, next Friday.
The Bears scored on three plays of 50 yards or more and had four total plays of 40 or more. They averaged 18 yards per play in the first 24 minutes of action.
"We've done a good job of getting the ball to our playmakers, and as usual they were able to make plays," Bradley coach Damon Floyd said. "We're definitely fortunate to have guys like that."
Even with the game in hand, the Bears kept the intensity up. With the Mustangs driving in the final minute, the Bradley reserves shut down Walker Valley in the red zone.
Justin Houston, who led the Bears with 119 yards on five carries, had scoring runs of 80 and 9 yards. Bryce Copeland had 58 yards rushing, including a 53-yard touchdown run. He threw scoring passes of 69 yards to James Stovall and 10 yards to Caleb Cain. Rue Goldston had a 1-yard scoring run for the Bears.
"Everybody's a team player," Floyd said. "We don't want to look ahead to next week. [Kelvin] Wells scared me to death early, until we were able to score."
Wells led the Mustangs with 87 yards rushing on 22 carries.
"There just wasn't much you can tell the guys after the game," Walker Valley coach Ted Lockerby said. "We talked at halftime about what we needed to do, but it made no sense to jump on them afterward.
"We just have to be better next week."
Next week will be a big week for the Bears, as the Cleveland-Bradley game will be televised nationally on ESPNU at 7:30.
"Around 8 in the morning, we're going to be thinking about Cleveland," Floyd said, before pausing and saying, "I'm lying. I'm thinking about them now."