December 23, 2009 10:51:00 AM
Michael Bradford''s goal was to be a leader on the offensive side of the ball for the Lamar County High School football team.
The senior quarterback emerged as that leader and led Lamar County to a season to remember.
With Bradford leading the way, Lamar County equalled a school record for the most wins in a season with 13 and made it to the semifinals of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
"We had a great year," Bradford said. "Everybody played hard and practiced hard week in and week out. We all just wanted to go out and play our best every week."
For leading Lamar County to within a game of playing for a state championship, Bradford is The Commercial Dispatch West Alabama Offensive Player of the Year.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Bradford directed a high-powered offense that scored 529 points in 14 games for an average of 37.8 points per game.
He completed 47 of 91 passes for 626 yards and 11 touchdowns on a run-oriented team and was the Bulldogs'' leading rusher with 1,014 yards and 19 touchdowns.
He was intercepted just three times and two of the picks were in one game.
Bradford was a dangerous threat running and throwing the ball, but his ability to run the offense is what made the Bulldogs click.
"The thing Michael understood was he allowed the offense to run through him," Lamar County coach Ken Adams said. "He wasn''t the offense. He was able to see things and wasn''t just someone who got back there and tried to do it all himself. Hee allowed the offense to run through him.
"He was able to carry out fakes, put kids into motion, get our offense lined up and get the ball snapped. He did a great job of that."
Bradford threw three touchdown passes against Red Bay in the playoffs and two touchdown passes against South Lamar in the season opener and Addison in the seventh game.
The most yards he passed for in a game was 104 against South Lamar.
He was more effective running the ball, rushing for 110 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland, 109 yards and a touchdown against Addison, 147 yards and two touchdowns against Winston County, 127 yards and two touchdowns against Isabella and a 159 yards and three touchdowns against Tanner.
He led an offense that scored 61 points against South Lamar, 47 against Cold Springs, 48 against Cleveland, 46 against R.C. Hatch, 43 against Falkville, 58 against Oakman, 48 against Isabella and 42 against Red Bay.
"I wanted to give the guys everything that I had," Bradford said. "I wanted to play hard and get them to play hard, and keep everybody up by being a leader."
Bradford proved to be a dependable starter after replacing Brad Barnes, who was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs. He was the starting quarterback for two years and guided the team to 23 wins and three losses during that time.
He was Barnes'' backup as a sophomore on a 2-8 team and then took over to lead a resurgance at Lamar County.
"Mike is one of those guys that is there every day," Adams said. "He learned a lot my first year (at Lamar County in 2007) because he was watching Brad Barnes by being behind him."
Bradford took what he learned from Barnes and helped Lamar County become a state championship contender.
1. EMCC mourns loss of Clemons COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Offensive line fuels Noxubee County's winning streak HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Columbus boys will face nationally ranked Memphis East tonight HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Hard work pays off for Campbell on MSU women's team COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Phillips, MSU seniors prepare for final game Thursday COLLEGE SPORTS