Bearden faces toughest challenge yet in Lenoir City

With a four-game winning streak, Bearden hopes to keep its hot start to the season going when it travels to unbeaten Lenoir City. The Bulldogs and Panthers kick off Friday night in Lenoir City at 7:30 (Radio: NewsTalk 98.7). “I always think if we play well and they play well, we have a chance to win,” Bearden Coach Brad Taylor said. “They have some talented kids.” Two of those talented players are tight end Lucas Hamilton who has committed to MTSU and wide receiver Jaylon Woods. Several Panthers have received offers and plan to continue to play football in college. Knowing that their opposition has a chance to play at a higher level has inspired some of the Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 District 4-AAA) to push themselves and prove that they could also play at a higher level. “It fires everybody up and makes everyone play better;” senior running back/linebacker Trent Waters said. “If that kid is going to MTSU and you beat him, then maybe you think that you could go play for MTSU or somewhere even better.” The talent at Lenoir City (3-0, 1-0) is just another example of District 4-AAA becoming more challenging. When it was formed four years ago, area powers Maryville, Farragut, and Catholic joined Bearden to make arguably the most difficult district in the state. But both West and Lenoir City have continued to improve their programs, making Bearden’s division even tougher. “We have a lot of talent, but the district has definitely gotten harder,” BHS senior quarterback Nicky Frizen said. “Lenoir City has become a consistent power house, West has been playing pretty well, and including us, Maryville, Farragut, and Catholic, we consistently have one of the hardest districts in the state, and it only gets harder.” Not only have players noticed this change in play, but the coaches have as well. Teams that the Bulldogs used to always expect to beat now require extra motivation and preparation. “I think we are in the hardest district in the state with Maryville, Farragut, and West being consistently difficult teams to beat,” Coach Taylor said. “And Lenoir City, Catholic, and even William Blount have all been improving. “Playing teams this good all season really prepares us for the play-offs.” Last season, Bearden was down 17-0 in the first half of the Lenoir City game and came back to win 21-17. The Bulldogs will have some extra help against the Panthers, getting sophomore linebacker Griffin DeLong back from a knee injury. Brooke Williams is a staff writer for The Bark . Follow The Bark on [email protected] and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.