A new era: Bradley changes team culture

Missouri Southern Football hosted its Green and Gold Scrimmage April 9 at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. Team captains Dawson Herl (QB) and Richard Jordan Jr. (LB) drafted teams. 

This was the first look at the team for the upcoming season since the loss to #24 ranked Washburn University in November.

The white team dominated the green team 28-3 as it got out to a 21-0 lead early in the first half courtesy of quarterbacks Herl and Luke Sampson. The green team finally got onto the board with under six minutes remaining in the second quarter when Nick Williams converted a 32-yard field goal, but this score was met with another touchdown pass from Herl as the clock expired to make the score 28-3 at halftime. 

Neither team got back on the board during the second half.

Coming off of a 3-8 season in 2021, Head Coach Atiba Bradley and his players are looking to build a winning culture. 

“We weren’t making the same mistakes. I think new mistakes are good mistakes because when you’re not making the same mistake, it tells me you’re learning and improving,” Bradley said. “It’s encouraging we’re not making the same mistakes and we’re cleaner, more efficient, and all around just doing a better job.” 

The Lions are led by returning starting quarterback Herl and All-American Honorable Mention Linebacker Jordan Jr to lead the offense and defense.

This is one of the best Missouri Southern teams I’ve seen in my four years here

— Richard Jordan Jr

“I think we’ll be much improved on offense especially because it was my first year last year and going into the second one, getting a year under my belt will really help,” Herl said. “I think our defense also will be a strong part. JoJo (Jordan Jr.) being back there, one of the best linebackers in the nation, I always feel comfortable with that.” 

According to Jordan Jr., with two of the team’s leaders returning, there is an established trust.

“Honestly, one of our biggest strengths right now is just the comradery and the teamwork we have with one another,” Jordan Jr. said. 

Bradley is focusing on leadership and hard work.

“Once you know what you’re doing and you’re doing it at a high level, the next step is ‘How do I help everyone around me do it at a high level.’… If we get 120 guys working as hard as JoJo and Dawson, sky’s the limit for what we can do.”

The team is looking to surprise everyone. 

“We have huge expectations going into the fall,” Herl said. “We’re really looking to make people turn their heads at us and make a big leap in year two.” 

“This is one of the best Missouri Southern teams I’ve seen in my four years here,” Jordan Jr said. “We’re just really excited to get on the field.” 

Bradley, an alum, is building a culture to ignite a fire.

“You know as a player there are certain goals and benchmarks that you want to hit and there are certain teams you want to beat and there’s a whole lot of motivation as a player,” Bradley said. “Well, as a coach, I have some of those benchmarks and things that I want to do. So, a lot of the same goals I had as a player, I want to get accomplished now as a coach. It’s fun to be back and almost continue what I started.”

The season will kick off  at home on Thursday, Sept. 1 against the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers at 7 p.m.