Bears overcome slow start, dominate second half in Week Zero

Brayden Mikesell watches the second of his two touchdown catches fall into his hands last Friday night in Bussey as English Valleys came away with a 47-8 Week Zero win over Twin Cedars.

BUSSEY — The first-game jitters were on full display for both English Valleys and Twin Cedars on Friday night, as both teams combined for five turnovers and a myriad of penalties in the first half. However, the Bears took a 6-0 lead into halftime thanks to a Cole Stephenson 26-yard touchdown strike to Brayden Mikesell, which was all the momentum EV needed to roll to a 47-8 victory. Even with the first half struggles, EV head coach Mike Gerard didn’t want his team to panic.

“We had to clean up what we were doing,” Coach Gerard said. “We can’t afford to make mistakes like that. We felt like in the first half, there were several times when we were in a good play, but we made a mistake or got a penalty and it really hurt us.”

Sophomore Beau Flander was spectacular on both offense and defense, rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown, totaling seven tackles, and coming up with an interception and fumble recovery. The Bears defense was dominant, forcing six turnovers — which has become a staple of their program, after forcing 27 turnovers in 2018. Tanner Mihal, Nolan Grove, Josh Osborn, and Mikesell were the other Bears that came up with takeaways.

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