Former quarterback finds niche on Southern’s defense

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Bradley Capps has stayed in a delivery role for Southern Alamance’s football team even with a position change.

Instead of giving the ball to teammates, he’s jarring the ball loose from opponents in the form of delivering hits in the secondary.

Capps had been a quarterback for the Patriots, but he wanted something new for his senior season.

“I don’t really like to say this, but I didn’t feel like handing the ball off anymore. That’s the main reason why I kind of switched up,” Capps says. “The main thing is I just like hitting. That’s one of the main things I like to do instead of handing the ball off and all that. I felt like it’s more fun to actually hit people than to do all that.”

Bradley Capps

In Southern’s run-oriented offense, Capps was called upon to make hand-offs on most every play. He moved to safety, and that sure paid off Friday night when his game-ending hit in the end zone knocked the ball away from a Jacksonville receiver as the Patriots held on for a 25-19 overtime victory.

That sequence led to Capps’ celebratory dash toward midfield with joyous teammates in pursuit.

“I was worried I wasn’t going to get there in time and (Jacksonville’s Ra-shawn Echols) was going to make the play,” Capps recalls. “I saw the ball on the ground. I got up and it was just a hype moment for me. That’s a one-time thing for me. Everyone chasing me after a big play to keep our season going is pretty cool.”

He said he never was part of a reaction quite like that after a touchdown for the Southern offense.

Then it became calm for Capps as many other Southern fans rehashed the playoff outcome.

“I wasn’t here for the weekend,” he sys. “I was at a Young Life camp, so I didn’t have my phone.”

It has been quite a transformation for Capps, who approached former coach Fritz Hessenthaler after last season about making a position switch.

“He said he thinks it’s a good idea, and it turned out to be a pretty good idea, I guess,” Capps recalls.

His teammates agree.

“He likes to hit and so I guess he didn’t like to just hand off the ball constantly, so he said he was going to switch,” linebacker Kaleb Franklin says. “He went to safety and has been a big help. I knew he would be good.”

Tight end Chandler Clontz agrees, “He’s definitely better at safety than he was a quarterback.”

Capps had been a running back at Hawfields Middle School before he became a Southern quarterback. He hadn’t played on defense until this year.

“I didn’t even think I would start because it’s my first year,” he says. “Other people have been doing it. I guess I did my thing to get the starting spot. Mainly learned it over the summer. Just learning everything at safety, like the coverages.”

First, he had to get healthy. On the third play of Southern’s first playoff game in 2022, he suffered a fractured fibula.

“All I heard was two pops,” he remembers.

After a few weeks, it was determined that surgery was needed last December. Capps was slowed at the beginning of baseball season as he came back from the injury.

Yet saving a Southern season is nothing new to Capps. He did so using his arm last spring in a state-playoff baseball game at Raleigh Broughton. His throw from center field prevented the winning run from scoring in the 11th inning on what would have been a sacrifice fly. The Patriots won in the 12th.

“Doing it in baseball and football is pretty cool,” Capps beams.

Capps, 5-foot-10 ½ and 165 pounds, says he likes how the change to defense has worked out. He made an interception in the Chapel Hill game, but he says he’s mostly concentrating on breaking up plays.

“Safety is more fun to me than quarterback,” Capps says. “When I went to high school, I was just going to be a quarterback. Then I was going to try something different. Safety is just more fun.”