By Maurice Patton
Bronson Bradley confirmed Friday afternoon that he has been dismissed as football coach at Mt. Pleasant after seven seasons – four of which he guided the Tigers to the state playoffs.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Mt. Pleasant finished 1-8 this fall, the second one-win campaign since Bradley took the helm prior to the 2014 season.
“Usually the doubters and the haters are the loudest after a year like this, but I didn’t hear any of that,” said Bradley, 38-37 over his tenure at the school after going 2-8 in his only season as coach at Westmoreland in 2009. “I think everybody understood – except our administration.
“I don’t know if they understand what we dealt with this year.”
After losing six offensive starters and three defensive starters from last season’s 8-3 squad, with no spring practice, little summer work and no preseason scrimmages as a result of COVID restrictions, Mt. Pleasant lost its opener 13-12 at Summertown and fell 14-7 to Richland in Region 5-1A play – the first loss to the latter since 1993.
From there, the season spiraled downward, with the Tigers’ only victory coming in a 27-20 decision over visiting Loretto on Oct. 8. The following week, Mt. Pleasant lost 34-27 to Zion Christian, one of four one-possession defeats.
“I was let go by the administration of Mt. Pleasant today,” Bradley said in a prepared statement. “I was not expecting it but football is held to a higher standard even in COVID years.
“I can say without a doubt and without challenge that this program is better than when I found it seven years ago. I have brought a lot of value to this program including a new stadium, new lights, a field that was dirt and clover (and) is now one of the best around, a top-class weight room and program, new lockers and Grade-A practice equipment, a reputation that draws college recruiters year-in and year-out.
“My family loves this community and the young men that have played for me. The relationships I have built with them go far beyond football and I pray they can say the same. I see them already succeeding in life, in the service of our country, and as future leaders. I believe I was called by God to help the young men of this community to be better men and I pray the next man puts that above all the outside pressures of being a football coach. I leave this program without blemish! I am proud of my time here and I have no regrets.
“As with everything I put this and my future in God’s hands and He will work it to my benefit but most importantly to His.”
Bradley’s wife, Shonté, is a girls basketball assistant. His daughter, Kielee, is a sophomore on the Lady Tigers’ team.
“All I could think about (when informed of his dismissal) was Kielee,” said Bradley, a 1997 Wayne County High School graduate. “Hopefully she can get this behind her and finish this season.”
Mt. Pleasant principal Ryan Jackson spoke to “growing the program” as he explained the decision.
“We’re thankful for Coach Bradley’s commitment and dedication to the school and the community,” Jackson said. “We’re honored for the work he’s done. (But) we’re looking at overall program development and pushing forward into the future with a new direction.
“It’s about growing the program. We’re not talking about good teams, but great programs.”
Jackson said an interim coach would be announced next week and a committee would be formed “with multiple stakeholders as we begin the search and interview process”. He said he hopes to have a successor to Bradley, who will lead the program into Class 2A competition next season, by March.
Maurice Patton is the editor of SM-Tn Sports. He can reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @mopatton_sports.