Noxubee County vs. Greene County

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Associated Press

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 9:06 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Dylan Bradley is simply known as "The Beast" around the towns of Macon, Shuqualak and Brooksville.

The Noxubee County star defensive end earned the nickname after a stellar 4-sack performance in the season-opener against Starkville.

If the name hadn't come then, it most surely would have come a few weeks later against West Point when he had another standout performance.

That was the game he dominated, despite his shoulder constantly popping out of place.

"I had to pop it back in about three times," recalled Bradley. "Football ain't a woman's sport. It's a man's sport. You're going to have bruises and nicks and pain, but you just have to continue to play with it."

Bradley's tenacity, coupled with his all-out play on every down, has some suggesting that he is the best defensive player in the state.

The 6-foot-1, 255 pound Bradley paused, flashed a polite smile and then gave an "I don't know" when asked if he indeed is the best defensive player in the state.

Others around the state didn't feel the need to pause and were much decisive.

"He's the best defensive player in the state, bar none," said Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell. "I'm on the Mississippi-Alabama (all-star game) staff and he was absolutely one of our No. 1 targets. He is as dominating as it gets."

Bradley has recorded 84 tackles and 19 sacks this season for the Tigers (15-0), ranked No. 2 in The Clarion-Ledger Super 10. He'll look to add to that total on Saturday at 3 p.m. when Noxubee plays Greene County in the Class 4A state title game.

"After four years of hard work and getting so close to Jackson and losing, it feels great to finally get here," said Bradley, who was an eighth-grader when Noxubee won its first title in 2008.

Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter is even more impressed with how Bradley carries himself off the field.

"This kid has such a great personality," Shorter said. "If you ran into him out on the street, you wouldn't think he was that type of a player. It's almost like night and day. Once he gets on that field, he wants to be called The Beast and that's what he plays like every down."

Despite his success the season on arguably the state's best defense, the college coaches haven't quite been burning up the roads to Macon.

Bradley has scholarship offers from Memphis, Arkansas State, Jackson State and Alcorn.

Some of the other schools shy away because he is only 6-1.

"I know I am not the 6-4, 6-5 type, so they don't know where to play me," said Bradley. "They don't know if the transition from me playing defensive line in high school to linebacker would be easy, but I believe it would be."

Bradley, who grew up in Jena, La. before moving to Macon in the fifth grade, said he will make a decision when the season ends.

"I'm shocked he's not getting more looks," said Mitchell, the Starkville coach. "I don't care about how tall he is or how much he weighs. The guy is a freak of a football player.

Mitchell compares Bradley to some of the better players to come through Mississippi in recent years.

"He has Terrance Metcalf ability, but even quicker than Terrance was," said Mitchell. "Maybe not quite as big, but more explosive. I played against (former South Panola linebacker) Chris Strong when I was at Olive Branch and he is that kind of player. Dylan just shuts you down. It doesn't matter if you run at him or away from him; he's going to be involved in the play."

Bradley's play has helped him put his name among some of the greats who have played for Noxubee County over the years.

"We have had some great offensive players to come through there, but I know for a fact he's the best defensive player to come through here in my 14 years being here," said Shorter.

Bradley is just glad to be on the same list with guys like Omarr Conner, Pat Patterson and Vincent Sanders.

"That's an honor," said Bradley. "Just to be one of the best means a lot and that's something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

Greene County head coach Johnny Ainsworth knows it will be tough game.

"Noxubee is very athletic in all three phases and that is why they are 15-0," Ainsworth said. "They can hurt you in many ways."

But the Wildcats have shocked some folks already.

Greene County knocked off defending 4A South champion Laurel in the first round, came home and beat Tylertown (the 4A favorite coming into the season), beat district champ Bay High and then Quitman .

"We just have had guys step up this past several weeks and made some plays," Ainsworth said. "We are going to need guys step up big time Saturday."

Terrance Woods and Lamarcus Franks lead the Greene County offense.

"I am just real proud of my guys," Ainsworth said. "They have worked hard all year and have found themselves playing for a state championship."

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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