Evans follows unlikely path to become Bearden’s top receiver

Jacob Steimer

Bearden’s football team is led by a junior under center this season, but like many other high school teams, the bulk of the leadership comes from the senior class. For the receiving corps, that means Aaron Evans, who has had a long and hard road to get where he is today and has a challenging season ahead of him. Throughout his time at Bearden, Evans has struggled with Crohn’s Disease. This season, though, the biggest bump in the road for Evans is the injury he sustained just weeks before the first game. “My shin bone suffered extreme trauma,” Evans said. “The main concern is that there is a condition where your muscles become so tight that they give out on you. Every game, I have to look out for it.” Evans has had to come off the field during games to protect his now fragile leg. It stays in the back of his mind. “It’s going to nag him all season,” head coach and receivers coach Brad Taylor said. “We don’t have the time for him to rest and heal up.” Coach Taylor thinks Evans has dealt with it admirably though, and praises his senior receiver for his work ethic. “He’s definitely not making excuses for it,” Coach Taylor said. “It’s important to him that he’s out there.” Evans tries to always be on the field, no matter the position he is told to play. “Sophomore year, I was quarterback because they told me they needed a backup quarterback,” Evans said. “I didn’t want to play quarterback because it’s hard to see over the line.” Coach Taylor is glad to have a player as flexible as Evans on his football team. “Quarterback was what the team needed, so Aaron did that,” Coach Taylor said. This flexibility is part of Evans’s skill as a leader. “He’s a good leader for us and a smart football player,” Coach Taylor said. “He leads by example.” On a football team, though, leadership in the locker room can be just as important as leadership on the field. “The leadership has to be a lot more because we are a smaller senior class,” Evans said. “It is harder to stay focused before games.” For the Hardin Valley game, according to Evans, “before games” applied to the two hour rain delay. Perhaps the lack of experienced players like Evans contributed to the loss. Coach Taylor thinks players like Evans will be especially valuable as the season progresses. “Aaron has been a part of teams that have been good,” Coach Taylor said. “From that comes knowing how to work to be successful.” The Bulldogs hope to continue their success from last Friday’s win against Morristown East as they travel to play William Blount this week. The Governors are coming off a 9-0 win over Central, and have a defense that could cause problems for the Bulldogs running game. As such, it may come to the passing game to pull out the victory for the Bulldogs. Evans thinks his receiving corps is up to the challenge. “Their secondary players like to play loose coverage,” Evans said. “If we get out in space and (quarterback) Nicky (Frizen) gets us the ball, we can make plays.” The receivers were not called to make too many plays against Morristown East, but when they were called upon, they delivered. “(The receivers) were 7-for-7 on Friday,” Coach Taylor said, “and those seven passes were huge. They kept drives going and allowed us to put points on the board.” Coach Taylor thinks the Bulldogs can do the same this week. “I think we definitely can get something going if we compete the way we did last week and get better,” he said. “We can score points.” These points will be at a premium against the tough William Blount defense – making Evans and the other senior leaders more important than ever.