Dogs shut out Irish, roll into playoffs against Dobyns Bennett

Aidan Sears

In what would be their last game at Bill Young Field, the Bearden seniors were hoping for a strong win to propel the Bulldogs into the playoffs. They were not disappointed. Bearden ended their regular season Friday night by shutting out Catholic 24-0. After losing to Catholic 20-0 last season, the Bulldogs wanted nothing more than to prove once again how much they have improved. “They did that to us last year, and we hadn’t had a shutout all year,” senior Trent Waters said. “So we definitely wanted to come out and do that to them, and go out with a bang.” Neither team was able to make much ground during the first quarter. The game remained scoreless until junior Josh Walls ran into the end zone with 7:58 left in the second quarter, giving Bearden (8-2, 5-2 District 4-AAA) the 7-0 lead. Catholic (4-6, 2-6) managed to move the ball to the Bearden 34 on the next drive, but the Bulldogs stopped them on a fourth-and-one to stop the threat. Walls scored again near the end of the half to give Bearden the 14-0 lead, and the Bulldog defense refused to allow another Catholic offensive threat. “The defense has played really well all year, and they’ve been stingy all year,” Coach Brad Taylor said. “So it’s nice for them to get a shutout on this last regular season game.” The Bulldogs now turn their focus to a first round playoff visit to former district rival Dobyns-Bennett (10-0) on Friday. If Bearden can score an upset, it will face the winner of Sevier Co. and Jefferson Co. The Bulldog defense hopes that they can take the dominating performance against the Irish and turn that into momentum as they head into the first week of the playoffs. “Going into the playoffs with a shutout, it gives the defense a lot of ups,” Waters said. “We’re hyped up and excited, so it’s going to give us a lot of momentum.” Despite the shutout, the Bulldogs say that the win did not come easy, and that Catholic’s defensive pressure only helps the transition into the postseason. “We were jawboning, and getting into it with Catholic,” senior receiver Hunter Johnson said, “so that momentum and the way we played will definitely carry over to next week.” The Bulldogs also saw a return of frequent penalties. Bearden had minimized penalties recently after struggling with them early in the season, but after Friday’s game, they say they still have some work to do. “The last half of the season we’ve been a lot better with penalties,” Coach Taylor said. “But tonight we had more than we have the last four ball games, so that’s definitely something we can’t do going into next week.” The last time Bearden travelled to Dobyns Bennett in the postseason was 2010, a 41-35 overtime win for the Bulldogs in which UT sophomore tailback Devrin Young rushed for four touchdowns including the game winner. Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.