Bearden gets its revenge against HVA, 45-9

Aidan Sears

Bearden couldn’t get on the scoreboard in their season opener against Hardin Valley this time a year ago. This year, they couldn’t stay off of it. Senior quarterback Nicky Frizen threw three touchdown passes to lead a considerably more experienced team to a 45-9 win over the Hawks at Bill Young Field on Friday night. “I think the experience factor is huge,” Frizen said. “Last year, we had maybe two guys on the whole offense with any kind of experience, and coming into this season we felt better, just having that year of Friday night lights under our belt.” After the defense forced a Hardin Valley punt to begin the game, Frizen led Bearden to an 86-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by junior Josh Walls. The Hawks then fumbled the ensuing kick return, and Frizen found senior receiver Hunter Johnson two plays later for the Bulldogs’ second score of the game. From then on, they never looked back. They led 21-0 after just one quarter. “I think this year we’re taking a lot more advantage of the players we have,” said Johnson, who had five catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns. “And also we’re a lot more mature than we used to be, so we got a year under our belt, and we’re ready to go.” With the growth of Frizen and the receivers, Bearden was able to run a much more balanced offense than last year, scoring three touchdowns on the ground, and three in the air. This all-around offense is what the coaching staff hopes can put the Bulldogs among the area’s elite teams. “I like for us to be balanced,” Coach Brad Taylor said, “and we’ll have to continue to be balanced to have success as we go further.” The Bulldogs also saw an improvement on defense, holding the Hawks to only a field goal until HVA scored a touchdown as time expired. And even though age plays a large role in the defense’s success, they’ve also made some structural changes that look to have paid off. “We were very young last year,” Coach Taylor said. “We had about four sophomores on one side of the football, so there was going to be growing pains. “And we’ve gone with a little different 3-4 look, and we feel it fits our personnel well this year.” Because of the turnaround from last season’s showing against the Hawks, the Bulldogs see this win as more than just a 1-0 start. They see it as a chance to show this kind of improvement throughout the season. “Last year we get shut out 32-0 on the road, that’s definitely a damper put on your season,” Frizen said. “But this year we feel like we can play with anybody, and coming out and showcasing on the first night is big for confidence.” But the team says that they can’t get too far ahead of themselves. “It definitely is a big boost of confidence, but at the same, you have to not let it get to your head,” Johnson said. The Bulldogs will travel to Morristown East next Friday. Bearden won last year’s meeting 28-25.