Aiden McClary had a right to be frustrated early in the season.
The Bradley Central quarterback had been nursing some injuries, which had affected his play. With the Bears boasting a pretty dominant rushing attack led by junior Jackson Wilson, as well as a dominant defense, McClary only has to be so good.
But he felt like he wasn't able to be his best self, and that wasn't good enough for him.
"I had gotten super down on myself, because I couldn't make things happen. I couldn't move around, I couldn't rush," McClary said. "My coaches saw how frustrated I was, and they helped me out a lot through that."
Now he appears to be a lot healthier, and with the Bears about to face their toughest three-game stretch of the season, it's right on time.
McClary threw for 180 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 60 yards and another score in the Bears' 35-6 nonregion win Friday night at Ooltewah to improve to 7-0. Bradley Central has Region 2-6A road games against Farragut (3-4, 1-2) and state-ranked No. 2 Maryville (7-0, 3-0) the next two weeks, then a home game against Class 5A's ninth-ranked Rhea County to end the year.
"I think if we're all staying healthy, we've got a real good chance against Farragut, Rhea and Maryville," McClary said. "If we just stick to our game plan, I think we can pretty much beat anybody we go against."
Wilson did his usual damage, with 177 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns to give him 1,369 and 14 this year. He had help from freshman J'Alan Terry, who had 75 yards receiving and 48 on the ground, and Marcus Goree Jr., whose 99 receiving yards included a 37-year touchdown.
The first-team defense shut out the Owls (1-5), limiting them to 17 rushing yards on 21 carries and forcing a turnover in the home team's lone trip into the red zone. Ooltewah did get an 84-yard catch-and-run score from standout Christian Doty, who finished with 167 yards on eight receptions.
The Bears totaled 315 rushing yards on 39 attempts, but to be a real threat down the stretch, they are going to need more performances from McClary like the one he put forth Friday.
"Tonight was huge, because he's a dual-threat guy," Bradley Central coach Damon Floyd said. "Now he's able to use his legs as well as his arm. Tonight we were able to open up a little bit."