Playoff scenarios abound as Bearden prepares for West

Jacob Steimer

The Bearden Bulldogs will face two challenges in their bid to have a home playoff game this year. The first is beating both West (6-2) and Catholic (2-6), a tough task considering Bearden will have to get both wins on the road. The second is that, with the high school playoff system, the Bulldogs (5-3) have little idea what their playoff scenario really is. “It changes every week,” Bearden quarterback Nicky Frizen said. “Right now we think we have an idea of who we would play, but that is subject to change.” The ideas they have are that they are already in the playoffs with five wins, that a loss this Friday to West will leave them with an opening round road game, and that two wins will put them in position to host a game. Again, though, it is all up in the air. “It would be nice to know who you’re playing,” senior wide receiver Aaron Evans said. If a win happens to be in the cards for the Bulldogs this Friday night, a team they might have the chance to host would be Hardin Valley Academy. “We were hoping, if we win out, we could get Hardin Valley at home, and there would be nothing better,” senior captain Will Burns said. “We didn’t play up to our potential in that game.” That 32-0 loss to the Hawks in mid-August was a tough start of the season for Bearden. The offense rushed for just 17 yards and passed for only 23. The Bulldogs want a do-over. “I think everyone wants to play Hardin Valley at home,” Evans said. “Everyone feels it was a fluke, everyone wants another shot at them.” The potential meeting sets up some extra motivation for this week’s game. “That is big motivation right there,” Frizen said. “We definitely want a second chance at them.” While a shot at Hardin Valley may be motivation enough, the chance to grab some valuable momentum, and possibly a home game, heading into the playoffs is also on Coach Brad Taylor’s mind. “Bottom line is we always need to improve and get better,” Coach Taylor said. “If we win the next two ball games, we got a great opportunity to host a playoff game.” This great opportunity does, however, rest upon beating West, who boast the second fewest points allowed in the district. “West is athletic and they’ve got an aggressive defense that gives you a lot of different movements and stunts,” Coach Taylor said. It will be up to Frizen to beat this experienced and hungry defense. “We got to be prepared to go out and see some emotional football,” Frizen said. “We’re like their Farragut.” West has always circled their game against Bearden on their schedule. Both high schools pull from Bearden Middle School so there are many friends amongst the two teams. “We’ve got a lot of guys on the team that have played with these guys,” Frizen said. “You got some friendly rivalries there.” The rivalry will add that one extra bit of motivation for the Bulldogs as they try to win the important district game. “It’s one of those games you should have a lot of motivation,” Coach Taylor said. “It’s playing against friends, guys you have played with.” For the Bulldogs to win their next two games would mean a 7-3 record, the same the experienced bunch from last year achieved. “We’re feeling some urgency to meet the expectations from last year,” Frizen said. “If we win the next two games, we’ll have the same record they did.” Seven wins and a home playoff game would be a highly satisfactory season for the Bulldogs, and once they make the playoffs, the old adage goes, anything can happen. “The gate is wide open,” Burns said.