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Bridgewater quite proud to be gritty in pink

10/8/2009
Kynon Codrington\ESPN RISE

MIAMI -- Teddy Bridgewater is often compared with former Miami Northwestern (Miami, Fla.) starter and University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris. But Bridgewater, a junior quarterback at Northwestern, wants people to know he is only trying to be himself.

One thing each has in common is a calm and easy-going personality. Nothing on the gridiron seems to affect Bridgewater when things are going well or when he is facing adversity.

Not this year's seven touchdown passes, a Miami-Dade County record, against Hialeah (Miami Lakes, Fla.) in a 54-23 victory. Not last week's 35-28 loss to Booker T. Washington (Miami, Fla.), which was only the second regular-season loss for Northwestern in the last four years. Not last season's Class 6A state championship loss to Seminole (Sanford, Fla.) that denied the Bulls a third straight title.

Bridgewater's cool demeanor also allowed him to deal with one of the most difficult moments of his young life. It came when he was playing youth league football and his mother, Rose Murphy, told him she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I came home after practice and we had some family members over at the house," the Elite 11 Watch List quarterback said. "She called me into the room to tell me, and I felt bad. I didn't want to play football or play sports anymore. I only wanted to take care of her. She said don't stop doing what you do best. God gave you these talents and you need to use them to the best of your ability."

Last November, Murphy beat her five-year battle with breast cancer. Today, the 47-year-old is in full remission.

The Bulls' leader is dedicating October to his mother, as well participating in the nationally-recognized Breast Cancer Awareness month. Bridgewater asked head coach Billy Rolle and equipment manager Corey Wheeler if he could pay tribute to Rose by wearing pink Nike gloves Thursday night when his team battles rival and ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 7 Miami Central on ESPN2.

"This is huge for me," Bridgewater said of playing in front of an anticipated sellout crowd at Florida International Stadium. "I never thought I would be playing in a game like this. For my mom to see me play this game in the month of October, that's even better."

The Bulls not only need a big game from their quarterback, but they also need playmakers like defensive tackle Todd Chandler and wide receivers Eli Rogers and Lorenzo Shinholster to step up. Chandler missed last week's game because of a knee injury.

Rogers and Shinholster played against Booker T. Washington, but the offense turned the ball over an uncharacteristic six times. The loss dropped Northwestern from No. 4 in the FAB 50 to No. 31 in this week's rankings.

Miami Central, which has displayed one of the most prolific offenses in Florida this season, went from No. 12 to No. 7 after shutting out Carol City (Miami, Fla.) 36-0.

"We need to focus on this game," Shinholster said. "As a senior, it means a lot to me personally to be able to do something in a rivalry game against a team like Central."

For Bridgewater, the game and the month have a special meaning that will last long after the game clock expires.

Kynon Codrington covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com

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