How good is Brad Tanner?
The Romeo coaching staff changed the entire offense to take advantage of his immense talents.
It worked. The Bulldogs captured their first Division 1 championship game with a 41-27 win over Detroit Cass Tech, and the 6-foot-2 senior had a great deal to do with it.
Whether he was catching the football, intercepting passes as a defensive back, returning punts and kickoffs or running the football on jet sweeps, Tanner was dynamic.
One of the defining moments of his season was a 65-yard interception return at Macomb Dakota to help keep the Bulldogs undefeated.
After getting by on natural ability for three years, Tanner worked extra hard after track season and the results were dynamic.
“Bradley has a natural gift that obviously not everybody has,” said Romeo co-coach Jason Couch. “Over the last year, he has really worked hard at developing those gifts he was given. He worked hard in the weight room.
“Last year during track really opened his eyes. He long-jumped 22-feet, seven inches. I think he realized that with some hard work he could even build on the talent that he has. It has paid off.”
Couch said Tanner’s speed and natural ability made him a good football player. “Now with the extra work he puts in and working on the game he has become better,” Couch said.
Tanner said he would get up early and work out three times a day during the summer.
“Going hard at practice every day and really paying attention and having the will to do it every single day,” said Tanner. “No days off. I’m glad I did it. That 22-7 in the long jump was huge. I’m a football guy that runs track.
“It’s my jumping ability and my speed, but you can’t really underplay my instincts. I’ve got great football instincts. I know when to make a cut. I know when to hit outside or cut it up.”
With Tanner’s versatility in mind, the coaching staff put the ball in his hands more.
“We’ve gone to a different system,” said Couch. “We run the ball more. He carries the ball, which has allowed him more opportunities to touch the football. When you’re just a wide receiver, sometimes it’s difficult to get the ball in their hands. We’re able to do it in some different ways.”
Utilizing the run game allowed Romeo to still be effective in bad weather. In the regional final against Novi Detroit Catholic Central, the Bulldogs were still able to put up 40 points under less-than-desirable conditions.
Tanner had a big kickoff return against the Shamrocks.
“We kicked the ball to the wrong person,” admitted CC coach Tom Mach.
Before the season Tanner was considered one of the best players in the Macomb Area Conference, and he lived up to the hype on both sides.
“That (offensive) change was huge,” said Tanner. “Last year I got the ball a good amount, but it was limited. The way we changed the offense this year, it got me the ball so much more in open spaces so I could utilize my speed. I’m thankful my coach did it.
“I’m not sounding cocky, but you could see my results from being in the open field. I got it in my head before the season started. My parents and everybody was telling me this is my last season. They told me it was all or nothing and I had to go all out. That’s what I did; senior year, go hard. That was my mentality.”
Said quarterback Paul Hurley: “He’s the man. He saved me so many times.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.