Sevier County shuts out Bearden in season opener


Taylor Johnson

Bearden receiver Jamal Ashley works to get open during the first quarter of the Bulldogs’ 35-0 loss in their season opener Friday.

Tyler Hotz, Staff Writer

Bearden could not slow down the high-powered passing game of Sevier County on Friday, as the Smokey Bears handed the Bulldogs a 35-0 loss at home in their season opener.

Bearden (0-1) will get another chance next week on the road against two-time defending state champions Fulton.

“There are several things we can improve on,” first-year head coach Morgan Shinlever said. “Mainly executing on the offensive side of the ball.

“With a new offense, we understand that we’re gonna have mistakes and do things that we can do better.”

Bearden looked efficient on their first possession of the game, driving 74 yards to the 6-yard line of Sevier County (1-0). But the Bulldogs failed to put points on the board after Hunter Miniard intercepted Cameron Jones’s pass in the end zone.

Bearden went onto complete the game with nine first downs and 153 total yards.

Bearden’s defense also struggled to slow down a Sevier County offense that racked up a total of 374 yards – 235 of which came through the air. Junior transfer Deuce Wallace threw four touchdown passes in his East Tennessee debut.

In addition, the Smokey Bears ran for 139 yards on 28 carries.

“Defensively, we have to be better tacklers and pride ourself on our physicality,” Coach Shinlever said. “We didn’t do that well; we let them out-leverage us tonight at some times that could’ve taken some points off the board.”

Jones, a junior starting in his first varsity game, threw two interceptions, and Bearden totaled less than 100 yards through the air; however, Coach Shinlever saw some potential tonight from his quarterback – including a couple of impressive downfield throws to senior tight end Matthew Marlow.

“I like my young quarterback,” Coach Shinlever said. “He had some live shots coming at him, and I think he handled it well.”

Another player making some good plays Friday was senior safety Taylor Blaine, who recorded an interception in the red zone late in the third quarter.

Coach Shinlever now turns his attention to the Falcons, who opened their season Friday with a record-setting 83-3 win over Powell.