Profiles: Houser heads list of talented freshmen on football team

Bearden+freshman+quarterback+Dawson+Houser+looks+on+at+practice.+Houser+has+Bearden%27s+two+longest+runs+of+the+season.

Taylor A. Johnson

Bearden freshman quarterback Dawson Houser looks on at practice. Houser has Bearden's two longest runs of the season.

Wyeth Wilson, Staff Writer

The Bearden football team has received a spark from an unlikely source this season.

Freshman quarterback Dawson Houser possesses the two longest runs for the Bulldogs so far this year, including the first ever touchdown by a freshman in a varsity game in Bearden football history.

That’s right. Not even Tennessee running back Devrin Young did that.

Along with several other freshmen, Houser practices and plays games with the Bearden varsity team.

“Playing with varsity is a lot different,” Houser said. “Their skill level is obviously a lot higher.”

Many freshmen have come to realize this fact on both sides of the ball for Bearden (0-5, 0-2 District 4-AAA). If they get in the game Friday, they’ll see an even higher skill level.

The Bulldogs host defending 5A state runner-up West (4-1, 1-1) for homecoming on Friday night at 7 (TV: beardenbroadcasting.com).

BHS quarterbacks coach Alex Rouse says having multiple freshmen on the field isn’t always a good thing, but he likes what the future holds with many talented new players.

“This group of freshmen is very talented, they work hard, and they’re very physical,” Coach Rouse said. “The fact that we have freshmen that are good enough to play on varsity right now is only going to make our team better in the near future.

“It will be really exciting to see what this group can do when they are seniors.”

Houser is one of those freshmen that has received playing time in many games this season, including Bearden’s game at Morristown-East, where he broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

“[The touchdown run] felt amazing that that was actually happening to me,” Houser said. “I can’t even really describe it.”

Even with lots of youth on the field, Houser, along with the other Bulldog newcomers, have not missed a beat.

In Bearden’s last game against Lenoir City, freshman Nate Adkins had 11 total tackles. In addition, Grant Richardson, another freshman, made five tackles in a game against Morristown-East.

The play of Houser and other freshmen has caught the eye of many upperclassmen, including junior offensive lineman Kaleb Griffin.

“I think he’s played really well especially because we haven’t ever played freshmen on varsity before,” Griffin said. “He’s close to leading the team in rushing with just two carries.

“I think his future is bright.”

Added Rouse: “Any time you can get a lot of reps on Fridays (varsity football games) or Mondays (freshmen football games), it’s definitely going to help you in the long run. Dawson has a lot of talent, and any time at a young age that you can get more reps, more experience, the more mature you can grow as a player.”