BRADFORD – Bradford’s season ended with a 68-0 loss to No. 1 Danville on Saturday afternoon, but that couldn’t dampen the spirits of coach Nathan Hyatt.
“Obviously they dominated us in every phase of the game,” the Railroader football coach said. “We can play better than we played. Ultimately that’s my responsibility because psychologically I think we were a little flat, and that’s my job. My job is to make sure that we’re ready to play football. But in the grand scheme of things … you know I told these guys they’ve overcome a lot. I don’t think anybody thought that they were going to end up winning four football games this year, and that means a lot.”
Bradford, which didn’t even field a varsity football team last year, finished 11th in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Division VII Region 26 computer ratings, which is the program’s second best finish in the past 25 years behind only the 2012 playoff team’s sixth place finish.
“We are at 34 football players right now,” Hyatt said. “We have a JV team. We had a junior high team with 18 players. Every one of those teams won a game, and the varsity team went 4-6. And at one time we were 4-4 and people thought that maybe we would make the playoffs. It’s awesome. They exceeded everybody’s expectations, and I’m really proud of them.”
However, Bradford’s immense growth this year wasn’t enough against Danville, who is rated No. 1 in the Division VII state rankings by the Associated Press. From the beginning of the game the Blue Devils dominated.
Danville started off the game with a six-play drive that covered 64 yards in 81 seconds to take a 6-0 lead.
Bradford’s offense started off well with Andy Branson connecting with Tyler Gunter for a 12-yard pass and a first down. But the Railroaders couldn’t sustain the momentum and had a penalty that wiped out another potential first down, leading to a punt.
Danville continued to race down the field and went 73 yards in nine plays on its next drive to go up 13-0 with 5:08 left in the opening quarter.
After a Bradford three-and-out, it took Danville just two plays to score again and go up 20-0 with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Danville added another score early in the second quarter after another Bradford three-and-out. This time the Blue Devils went 60 yards in five plays to go up 26-0.
After a third consecutive Bradford three-and-out, Danville continued to pour it on with a 60-yard touchdown pass on its next offensive play for a 33-0 lead.
Bradford then turned the ball over on downs at its own 30, and Danville – with its backup quarterback leading the offense – took just three plays to score again and go up 40-0 with 6:03 left in the second quarter.
Following a Bradford interception, Danville needed just three plays to score again and go ahead 47-0 with 3:34 remaining in the half.
Then another interception led to a five-play Blue Devil drive that covered 49 yards to make it 54-0 going into halftime.
The second half started like the first ended with a Bradford interception setting up Danville for a 38-yard touchdown drive, making it 61-0 with 8:08 left in the third quarter.
Then after a turnover on downs, Danville went 27 yards in four plays for its final score of the day to make it 68-0.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter to keep the score at 68-0 as Bradford finished the year 4-6 and Danville finished the regular season 10-0.
Danville completed 25-of-33 passes for 455 yards and seven touchdowns on Saturday. The Blue Devils ran 19 times, mostly in the second half, for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Bradford completed 9-of-19 passes for 66 yards and three interceptions. Tyler Gunter had five catches for 49 yards. Walker Branson and Bryson Canan both caught two passes.
The Railroaders had -44 yards rushing on 23 carries. Five Railroaders carried the ball, and they all lost yards.
The Railroaders will look to build on the momentum they built this year in 2016 but will have to replace eight seniors including Daryen Booker, Austin Bubeck, Tyler Gunter, T.J. Jones, Zach Miller, Brandon Mitchell, Drew Patty and Bailey Powell. That group experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows in the history of Bradford football.
“We’re going to lose eight seniors who have been through a lot, and I am so proud of them and everything that they’ve accomplished,” Hyatt said. “You know they go from being in the playoffs their freshmen year to 0-10 their sophomore year to not playing varsity football last year and then to come back to build all that up to go 4-6, I just can’t believe it. We’re really proud. We’re going to miss them, and we’re going to have to replace them.”