Hayden Wall, Coby Bradford Lead Hallsville’s Lines + Make Each Other Better
Hallsville is 5-1 for the first time since 2004 and only the fourth time since 1986. Line play has fueled the Bobcats' fast start.
At the heart of Hallsville's success in the trenches are senior left tackle Hayden Wall and senior defensive end Coby Bradford. Wall, a 6-foot-4, 270-pounder named to the ETSN.fm Preseason East Texas Super Team, has helped Hallsville establish a balanced offensive attack that averages 197.8 rushing yards and 165.8 passing yards.
Bradford, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound edge rusher, is a leader for a Hallsville defense that has held opponents to 18.6 points per game during a five-game winning streak. Bradford leads East Texas with 9 1/2 sacks. He also has 19 tackles for loss and 19 quarterback pressures.
Wall and Bradford insist that they continue to improve week to week because of one reason: they practice against each other every day.
"We're both good competition for each other. He's quick off the ball and he's very physical, which helps me because I do see some physical players," Wall said. "It makes us better every day by me going hard and him going hard. We both make each other better."
Wall said that Bradford, whose speed and long arms make him a terrorizing pass rusher, isn't a one-trick pony.
"He plays the run very well," Wall said. "He's going to try to get his hands on you as best as he can."
Bradford has the same high praise for Wall.
One of East Texas' elite pass rushers, Bradford said Wall more than adequately prepares him for the tackles he faces every week.
"He's by far the best I've gone against. With him it's a challenge every time," Bradford said. "We know better than to let up on each other. Whether we're injured or not, we go all out.
Bradford said Wall's quick feet and size make him a tough opponent to practice against.
"He's the best in the district, in my opinion. Everyone I've gone against in actual games, they aren't in comparison."
Bradford had five sacks and was named ETSN.fm Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week after Hallsville's season opener at Whitehouse, but the Bobcats lost that game 35-18. Since then, Wall said the entire team has buckled down to improve on last year's season, which saw Hallsville reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
"We finished 5-5 last year and lost in the opening round to Sulphur Springs," Wall said. "Our senior class is real big. I just think we came out after Whitehouse with something to prove.
It starts up front and that's the biggest thing our coaches emphasize, you've got to win the battle in the trenches."
Hallsville visits rival Pine Tree on Friday. A win gives the Bobcats their first 6-1 start since 1978. That will happen if the line play led by Wall and Bradford continues on the trend it's set during the last five games.
While they're fierce competitors on the practice field, Wall and Bradford said they've got each other's back.
"We're great friends. We joke around with each other all the time," Wall said. "We're good friends on the field and off the field."
That's good news for Hallsville, which will continue to rely on its line play in the quest for its first playoff victory since 2003.