Run defense helps propel Bearden football into playoffs


Photo courtesy of Tammy Kregel

Bearden’s defense lines up before a play against rival Farragut last week.

Bearden’s run defense has been one of the main reasons the Bulldogs have surpassed expectations this year, and they’ll hope it can be key again Friday as they travel to face Dobyns-Bennett in the first round of the playoffs.

“Before we go into a game, we have a game plan and in doing so, it is supposed to line us up for success,” senior linebacker Eric Lyttle said.

This season, the run defense has made a number of big plays.

“Our best outcome is a tackle for a loss,” senior linebacker Sam Nicaud said. “When everyone fits the correct gaps, we make the best possible scenario.

“Earlier in the season, we held them to a point where they were having to call random plays to be able to move the ball.” 

Added Lyttle: “On one of our best run defense plays, we put Oak Ridge into a 4th and 20 position, and they had to throw the ball.”

In Bearden’s six wins this year, the Bulldogs are giving up only 13.5 points per game. This defensive improvement has not come without extensive practice and preparation.

The defensive coaches play a major role in making the right calls. Putting trust into their athletes is a part of the job, and they sometimes give leeway to the players to make the right decisions.

“Our main defensive coordinator calls everything and makes sure to put us in the right position to make a play,” Lyttle said. “He will sometimes give me more liberty for calling plays.”

If the Bulldogs can win at Dobyns-Bennett, they will play the winner of Morristown East and Maryville next week.