In their first two wins, Brentwood established itself as a program for everyone to keep an eye on when it came to the Class 6A race. A blowout win over Blackman followed up by a dramatic close win over Brentwood Academy showed two different sides of the Bruins.
A hangover following last week’s win could have easily happened Friday night as the Bruins traveled to Hendersonville. Instead, the Bruins left town with a dominant 43-6 victory
“We talked a lot about not changing our approach,” Brentwood coach Clint Finch said. “You win one game and you tend to think you’re good. Then you beat BA and you think this is a dadgum good football team. We then had to play a good 2-0 Hendersonville team and just told our guys not to change who they are or change what they do.
…at the end of the day, it’s a bunch of kids who have played a lot of football games coming to play a program with a lot of history and doing a great job.”
Finding a way to slow down Hendersonville’s offense was the night’s biggest challenge for the Bruins. The Commandos entered the night averaging 50.5 points per game over their first two wins.
Never letting Mason Baker get into a rhythm, the Bruins defense forced three turnovers and turned two into touchdowns.
“Our defensive staff does a great job week-to-week and our kids have bought in on the defensive side,” Finch said. “If you take a good defensive plan and get a bunch of kids who are bought into it, it makes play calling easier.”
Clayton Merrill forging his own path with the Bruins
For a while, Clayton Merrill may have been recognized by those outside of the program as Walker Merrill’s younger brother. That sentiment is starting to change.
A starter since his freshman year, Merrill has been one of the Bruins’ top weapons this season both on offense and special teams. He flashed in each of those phases Friday night.
Following a safety Merrill broke loose on the kick return and got Brentwood within striking distance. They would score shortly after to increase their lead.
Merrill would catch a touchdown pass late in the game but his top highlight from the night was passing the ball. On a double pass, Merrill hit a wide-open Matthew Manning in-stride for a 50-yard touchdown that put the game out of reach.
“We just need to keep working,” Merrill said. “Our defense stepped up tonight and their defense was pretty violent. We just needed to stick together. It was a pretty close game at the half so we knew just needed to stick together and get the job done.”
Baylor Hayes continues to impress
Defensively the Bruins were one of the top teams in the state last year but lacked something on offense. That’s not the case this year and a lot of that has to do with the addition of senior quarterback Baylor Hayes.
Since moving to Tennessee from Florida, Hayes has been a standout leading the Bruins’ offensive attack. That continued on Friday night as he accounted for three touchdowns tossing two and scoring on a short run.
Between the win on the field and having his homecoming proposal accepted after the win, Hayes couldn’t keep his smile contained long on Friday night.
“This has just been awesome and it really has been a brotherhood,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t matter if your first-string, second-string, or third-string, everyone comes out focused. I give a lot of credit to our scout team guys because they come to practice every day and work which helps us and that shows on the field.
…this is just a big family and it’s shown up on the field.”