PREP NOTEBOOK: A Bradd omen for North opponents
As far as season openers go, North Medford’s football team had a lot to be excited about following Friday’s 45-6 home win over McNary.
For junior running back Devin Bradd, the excitement was maybe even greater than most considering he was making his debut with the Black Tornado — and back in Spiegelberg Stadium for the first time since his Pop Warner days as a member of the Eagle Point program.
“For my first time playing out here it was really nice, I love the environment,” said Bradd after rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. “I was very proud to be out there. It was a lot of fun playing at that stadium, it’s probably my favorite stadium in Oregon.”
Just getting to that day seemed a long time coming for Bradd, a 5-foot-10, 198-pound tailback who excelled for two years at Eagle Point High before transferring to North Medford this past February.
“With all the work in the offseason, getting to that day, I just couldn’t wait,” said Bradd.
North Medford head coach Steve Turner didn’t make Bradd wait too long before letting him put his stamp on the offense, calling his number on the team’s first two plays of the season and then leaning heavily on him during 24-0, second-quarter surge that essentially sealed the victory against the Celtics. Bradd ran for both of his scores, barreling efforts of 5 and 2 yards, in the second quarter.
Some might have been concerned about how Bradd would handle stepping up from playing at the Class 5A level to the 6A stage, but he had no doubts how it all would turn out.
“I wasn’t nervous, I was ready,” he said. “People are always talking about how 5A is nothing and 6A is much tougher, I just had to let them know that I’m ready.”
Part of that confidence stems from the success Bradd has already enjoyed at the high school level. He was an integral part of the Eagles’ offense as a freshman and only built on that promise last year for an EP attack that averaged 45 points per game. His high-water effort came in an 82-56 win over North Eugene, when Bradd posted a school-record 281 yards rushing and totaled five touchdowns.
Using a blend of speed, athleticism and power, Bradd rushed 161 times for 1,350 yards and 21 TDs last year for the Eagles. Last Friday, it was his physicality through and beyond the line of scrimmage that seemed to wear down McNary.
“I love being physical,” said Bradd. “When the running back has physicality and speed, you can’t really stop him. I try to have all of it.”
And when the offensive line is getting a push like North Medford was, it makes it that much easier.
With seniors Parker Landon (left tackle), Joe Baures (left guard) and Dane Stewart (right guard) and juniors Devin Crenshaw (right tackle) and Tharon Gail (center) leading the charge, the Black Tornado was able to run for 326 yards on 49 carries and total 554 yards of offense against a good Celtics squad that features Oregon State-bound linebacker Junior Walling.
“It was incredible, our O-line is doing great,” said Bradd. “I’ve got to give it up to them, I give them props every single play.”
“I haven’t had a line block like that in a while,” he added. “Every play they were 100 percent pushing. I don’t think I got stuffed in the backfield one time.”
The challenge will be for North Medford, and Bradd, to try and duplicate such play moving forward and not be satisfied with one fantastic showing.
“We can’t let that get to us,” said Bradd. “We’ve got to keep grinding and get ready for the next week. That (McNary) game already passed and we’ve got to just keep looking forward. We’ve just got to keep working.”
“It was a nice performance, but I’m not satisfied,” he added. “We can do a lot more, honestly. We have a lot more up our sleeve, we didn’t expose ourselves too much with offensive plays. We just did what we needed to win. There’s a lot more to come, I can’t wait.”
As for his former Eagle Point teammates, Bradd said he has nothing but well-wishes for great things moving forward for them as well. His absence certainly didn’t affect the Eagles last Friday, when they beat Klamath Union 34-8 and had solid showings from quarterback Kyler Kendrick and playmakers Justin McElroy and Lucas Meerten, among others.
“They still wish me luck and I wish them luck every week and hope for them to win,” said Bradd.
“Of course it was tough (to move on),” he added, “but I still hang out with all my friends and everyone from there so it’s fine. I know a lot of people in the Medford area, too, so it wasn’t bad for me to make the move. It was kind of tough but I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”
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