Bearden football proud of successes, disappointed with ending

After Bearden’s season ended last Friday because of a 35-7 loss to Dobyns-Bennett in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the Bulldogs looked back on their regular season, one of their most successful in recent years. The Bulldogs hope not to let an unfavorable draw in the playoffs overshadow their many accomplishments throughout the year. “We got a tough draw in the playoffs, but it was a heavy, talented pot where we got put in the playoffs,” Coach Brad Taylor said. “We saw tremendous improvement over the past season, and we had a good team that was very balanced.” Bearden started the year with a definitive statement of improvement with a 45-9 win over Hardin Valley, avenging their shutout loss to the Hawks the season prior. The Bulldogs continued their undefeated start early in the season, including going on the road to defeat then-unbeaten Lenoir City 24-14. “I can honestly say I’ve never been a part of a more fun season in my whole football career,” senior quarterback Nicky Frizen said. “I love these guys I played with, I love the senior class, and I’m going to miss these juniors and sophomores and freshmen.” When the Bulldogs eventually found themselves matched up against the defending state championship Maryville Rebels, they would not back down from the challenge. The Rebels would hand them their first loss of the season, but Bearden saw that they could compete with the best competition in the state. “I think we really grew as a team, and I’m satisfied with the way we played,” junior linebacker Kole Matherly said. “I just wish we would’ve kept going.” Having seen their success all season, the Bulldogs knew that they were going into their Oct. 5 matchup against Farragut with a strong chance to win, something they had not accomplished in the regular season since 2001. Bearden won, and in spectacular fashion, coming back in the fourth quarter to top the Admirals 48-45 in three overtimes. “Beating Farragut, just after the game with all my buddies, bawling my eyes out, was just a blast, and a total team effort, so it was just a lot of fun,” Frizen said. Bearden ended the regular season with an 8-2 record, but because of a rigorously deep section, were put against undefeated Dobyns-Bennett to start the playoffs. This would end the Bulldogs’ season, but the team did not forget about the improvement they made this season. “We had a much improved defense from last year, and offensively we drastically improved as well, so I think it was a good season,” Coach Taylor said. Looking forward to next season, the Bulldogs have will see the departure of many key seniors, most notably Frizen and other offensive weapons like Trent Waters, Hunter Johnson, and Ethan Pollack. “I think the biggest concern for us next year is that Nicky Frizen did a great job of leading our offense and leading our team,” Coach Taylor said, “and us being able to replace him will be the biggest thing for next year.” The Bulldogs will see the return, however, of four starting offensive lineman, standout linebackers Matherly and Griffin DeLong, and leading rusher Josh Walls. They see the potential in this group to lead the team to success next year. “We’re pretty deep in starters,” Matherly said. “Not as many as this year obviously, but we still do have some starters left, so I feel confident.” Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.