501 Football Spotlight – Magnet Cove’s Blake Bratton

by Mark Oliver

Magnet Cove senior tackle Blake Bratton is a big-time football player.

Just ask anyone who ends up on the receiving end of a Bratton hit.

Nominated by his coach, Ronnie Efird, Bratton is one of the 17 players named to the first 501 Football Team. Members were selected based on their play and contributions on and off the field.

“All the adjectives for the perfect student-athlete fit this kid,” Efird says. “He’s very strong in academics, very coachable, knows his assignments and technique, is football smart and loves the game.”

The Panthers, 10-2 overall (7-0 5-2A), ended their season last week with a second round playoff loss to Strong, 33-14. Magnet Cove beat the Union Christian Academy Eagles, 28-6, in Round One of the 2A state playoffs.

Bratton led the defense in 2011 and played a key part in Magnet Cove’s 40-22 victory over Bigelow on October 14, the defending 5-2A conference champion.

“It was easily my best game of the year,” Bratton says. “I led the defense that game with nine tackles. The game had a very emotional setting — they beat us for the conference championship last year, and beating them decided the conference championship this year.”

The Panthers fell one game short of reaching the state finals in 2010 with a 55-30 loss to the eventual-champion Magazine Rattlers.

Bratton’s abilities on the field have garnered much attention from colleges in Arkansas. Bratton’s favorite football player is Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Byran Jones. “He’s such a great player,” Bratton says. “If I were to go and play, I know that could be me.”

However, Bratton doesn’t plan on playing football again after this season.

“I love the game,” Bratton says. “I’ve learned a lot, but I need to think about my future. I’m looking at going to Arkansas State University to become a civil engineer.”

Aside from football, Bratton is also an active track and field player. He finished in first place in the discus throw and in seventh place in the shot-put throw. Off the field, Bratton is a member of Science Club, BETA Club, takes advanced placement classes and volunteers in his community.

“I like the 501 for its small-town feel and the support of the community. We help each other. You can ask anyone in this community for anything and they’ll give you anything.”