Profiles: DeLong hoping to stay healthy, lead young team


Ed Dudrick

Griffin DeLong looks to make a tackle against Hardin Valley last year.

Tyler Hotz, Staff Writer

Everybody knows that having a leader in any common goal is imperative.

It’s never more true than under the lights on Friday nights.

Senior linebacker and running back Griffin DeLong has been a starter since his sophomore year, but has missed more time than he would have liked due to injuries. Bearden only has 15 seniors on the roster, but everyone knows that they can rely on him.

And this year, his leadership cannot be underestimated.

“He’s the leader of our defense, easily the leader of our defense,” defensive coordinator Brian Tanner said. “All the other 10 guys respond to what he does.”

They’ll get their first chance to respond when the Bulldogs open their season by hosting Sevier Co. on Friday night at 7:30 (TV:

Coach Tanner sees a strong work ethic and also mentioned that DeLong never takes anything for granted.

“I just go out there and try to do all of my assignments,” DeLong said.

In addition, he has some interesting viewpoints for his and the team’s performance.

“For the team this year, our ultimate goal is to build a foundation and try to leave a legacy,” DeLong said. “And for me, I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy my senior season.”

DeLong was injured for part of last year which limited his opportunities at running back, but he certainly showed his potential. He averaged 8.9 yards a carry before his injury against Fulton on Aug. 30.

Wide receiver and cornerback Jack Shires is excited to see that over the course of an entire season.

“He’s a powerful runner,” Shires said. “Before he got injured (last year) he made a lot of good runs. If he stays healthy, he can definitely be an offensive weapon.”

DeLong has been showing glimpses of skill on both sides of the ball; however, he – among others – was unable to participate in a scrimmage last Friday. According to Coach Tanner, the team struggled but bounced back with great practices last week.