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Tornadoes blow past Keystone

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 10/5/22

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Bradford’s Willie Pollard scored two rushing touchdowns as the Tornadoes outclassed host Keystone Heights 38-0 in the first District 6-2S game for each team on Monday, October …

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Tornadoes blow past Keystone


KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Bradford’s Willie Pollard scored two rushing touchdowns as the Tornadoes outclassed host Keystone Heights 38-0 in the first District 6-2S game for each team on Monday, October 3.

The contest was pushed back from September 30 due to Hurricane Ian.

Bradford, now 5-0, is a senior-laden squad on a mission to bring a state championship trophy home to Starke.

The Indians, now 1-4, are a young team learning varsity football on the fly. The difference showed. Five different Tornadoes scored touchdowns as Bradford did whatever it wanted on offense, scoring on its first six possessions to start a running clock early in the third quarter.

Pollard, who led all rushers with 40 yards on just five carries, scored his first touchdown on a two yard plunge over left guard to stake the visitors to a 12-0 lead midway through

the opening quarter. The junior running back then capped a 75 yard drive on Bradford’s next possession by darting through a hole off left tackle, cutting to the sideline and outrunning the Keystone secondary to the pylon for an 11 yard score.

Bradford stars Manny Covey and Chalil Cummings did their part before giving way to the junior varsity for the second half. Covey, the senior running back committed to Cincinnati, gave the Tornadoes the early lead with a 10 yard scoring run on Bradford’s first possession, whole Cummings outjumped Indians cornerback Darrion Grady for a touchdown that gave Bradford a 26-0 lead in the second quarter.

While the Tornadoes ran for 226 yards on 28 rushes, Jeremiah McKenzie, Bradford’s sophomore quarterback, was a perfect six for six through the air for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

With freshman Baylor Ford starting at quarterback due to injuries, Keystone Heights entered the game intending to rely on its ground game.

“We were hoping to control the ball to keep their offense off of the field,” said Keystone Heights head coach Chuck Dickinson. “They have an explosive offense that can score at any time.”

Unfortunately for the Indians, they never established their running game against the Tornadoes’ defense, which has now shut out four of its five opponents in 2022 and which has allowed only one touchdown all season.

And a gaffe on special teams and two turnovers turned what was a methodical beatdown into a route.

Midway through the first quarter, Indians punter Jayden Goodman fumbled a low snap. By the time he recovered the ball, he was swarmed under by several Tornadoes, giving Bradford the ball at the Keystone 15 yard line. It took just two runs by Pollard to cash in on the short field.

With five minutes gone in the second quarter, Bradford safety C.J. Carn high-pointed a deep throw by Ford, made the interception and returned the theft 58 yards to the Keystone four yard line. Cummings hauled in the fade route from McKenzie on the next play.

The Indians strung together two first downs and crossed midfield for the first and only time near the end of the first half. But on third and seven from the Bradford 44, a Ford pass intended for Carson Eatmon was wide of the mark, and Bradford’s Jarrin Alexander cradled it going to the ground.

On the next play, McKenzie found slot man Chason Clark on a quick out, and Clark sped down the sideline, received a block from Cummings at the 10, and rumbled all the way to the end zone for a 66 yard score.

“Any time you play a freshman quarterback at the high school level, he is going to make mistakes,” Dickinson said of Ford, who completed two of five passes for six yards. “Ford threw the ball well at times. He has got to get some experience.”

Grady provided a spark for the Indians once he moved from receiver to running back, picking up 28 yards on six carries. Fullback Bryar Schenck led the Indians with 37 yards on 10 rushes, while starting running back Cartez Daniels mustered just 17 yards on 10 attempts.

“Grady is the only one we got with a little shift in him,” said Dickinson. “He made some good runs, and he does a good job returning kicks.”

The Indians travel to Crescent City for a non-district game on October 7.

“We have got to get back to playing physical,” said Dickinson. “We have got a great chance to win this week, and the more physical team will win.”