Robinson brings big play potential to Bearden offense

Christian Robinson is not always the focal point of the Bearden offense. But during the Bulldogs’ 5-0 start to the season, Bearden has seen many of their biggest plays happen when the ball is in the senior running back’s hands. “He doesn’t complain about getting the ball, and you know when he gets his chance, he makes plays,” fellow senior running back Trent Waters said. Robinson and Waters are two of four Bearden players with more than 20 carries this year. Starting tailback Josh Walls leads the team with 59 carries, but it’s Robinson and his big play potential – particularly late in games – that leads the team in rushing yards with 372. Robinson showed his big play capabilities two weeks ago at Lenoir City, when he sealed Bearden’s 24-14 win with a 69-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs say that they were hoping to see this kind of explosiveness from him this season. They’ll need it even more Friday night when Bearden (5-0, 2-0 District 4-AAA) hosts two-time defending state champion Maryville (5-0, 2-0) at 7:30 (TV:; Radio: 98.7). “Offensively, he’s very explosive, and he’s probably one of our better outside runners, naturally, because he’s got good speed and good vision,” offensive coordinator and running backs coach Morgan Shinlever said. “So we intended for him to carry more of the workload in the backfield, which he’s done.” Despite the coaches’ high expectations for him, Robinson had little idea about his role on the team coming into the season. As a hurdler for Bearden’s track team, he worried if missing practice time would affect his role in football. “During track season I had to miss a lot of spring practice and everything,” Robinson said. “So I didn’t really have my own place on the depth chart. So really I was just hoping to go out there and play my hardest and hope to be on the field.” But the coaches accredit some of Robinson’s success to this two-sport background. “He’s got a lot of athletic ability, and he brings a bit of a different dynamic, being a multi-sport athlete,” Coach Shinlever said. All three of Bearden’s primary running backs are averaging more than five yards a carry, and with Nicky Frizen leading the Dogs’ most potent passing attack in years, carries can sometimes come at a premium. Robinson, Waters, and Walls have had to adjust to sharing the ball as the season has progressed. “We’re not as selfish as we were when we started, about who wants the most reps, so I think we’re improving a lot,” Waters said. Even though the three players are not competitive about playing time, they do admit to a fair amount of competition for who can have the best game. They say that this friendly competition has added to their success and growth. “When I have a good game, it makes Josh want to have a good game,” Waters said. “And if Josh has a good game, Christian wants to have an even better game. So we’re all pretty competitive and it works to our advantage.” The Bulldogs hope it is the advantage that makes the difference in upsetting the Rebels on Friday. Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.