Football is Bradley Mickey’s instrument. And on Friday night in Arroyo Grande’s 34-28 win over Lompoc, he played the Braves to perfection.
“I believe there are some people that just get it. People can look at a piano and just get it and play it well,” said Arroyo Grande head coach Tom Goossen after the win. “He walks on a football field and he gets it.”
Three plays by Mickey in the rivalry game make it hard to argue.
After a long drive in the waning moments of the second half down 21-7, Lompoc had the ball on Arroyo Grande’s 2-yard line on 4th down with 3.6 seconds left before halftime. Lompoc quarterback Torey Sims handed the ball to the Braves’ go-to player, five-star running back Toa Taua. The wild-haired sophomore pushed forward to the goalline but was stopped short by Mickey and the Eagles defense as time expired.
“That was huge,” Mickey said. “They had momentum driving down the field to get that goal-line stand, that was huge for our defense. We really needed that little boost going into halftime.”
On the second play after halftime, it was Mickey who turned on the turbo boosters.
Mickey took a handoff from quarterback Sawyer May and with a smooth cut through the Lompoc defense, found enough daylight to take it 81 yards for an Eagles touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
Then he was ready for an encore.
Lompoc inched its way back into the game and was trailing by 13 when the Braves defense forced the Eagles into a three-and-out to get the ball back. But Mickey free safety snuffed out any chance of a comeback when he read Sims pass perfectly and stepped in front of a Lompoc wideout for the interception with about nine minutes to play.
Later in the quarter, he dropped what would have been his second pick of the game.
Last season Mickey led the PAC 5 with 10 interceptions on the season.
“It’s nothing that we did not expect. Bradley is a special player and we’re fortunate that he plays for us,” Goossen said.
Mickey finished the season-opening game with eight carries for 119 yards and one catch for 14 yards. Lompoc had defeated Arroyo Grande in the past four season openers.
“When we play Lompoc it’s always an exciting game and it showed tonight,” Mickey said. “It was hard-nosed football. Just run it up the gut. Just whoever can last the longest pretty much.”
It’s the type of game Mickey was built for. His measurables don’t jump off the charts (5-foot-11, 180 pounds), but Goossen believes he has something else.
“There is an innate sense that he has that many people do not have playing this game,” Goossen said. “You combine that with his tremendous work ethic and you have a special player.”