Profiles: Aqqad emerges as star receiver for Bulldogs


Ed Dudrick

Emad Aqqad breaks out of a tackle against Heritage. Aqqad caught two touchdown passes against the Mountaineers two weeks ago and two more against Mo East last week.

Bearden was one defensive stop away from completing a magnificent comeback against Morristown East last Friday thanks to contributions from several players. One player, though, stuck out as the catalyst.

Senior wide receiver Emad Aqqad came up big for the Bulldogs who had fallen behind early in the first half. In addition to collecting two touchdown passes from Xavier Johnson, Aqqad also recovered a perfectly executed onside kick by John Matthew Lee.

“The best thing that Emad did was the fact that when everything seemed lost he never gave up or lost hope,” captain and center Ethan Griffin said. “When everyone else saw what he was doing, we all tried to work hard just like he always does.”

Aqqad has a history of working hard. Bearden lost all three of its starting receivers – Ethan Pollack, Eric Graham, and Hunter Johnson – to graduation last year, so Aqqad was forced to better his game in order to fill their spots. Through the first four games, he has caught 20 passes for 243 yards. His four touchdown catches have come in the past two games.

Aqqad will be key again tonight as the Bulldogs (1-3, 1-0 District 4-AAA) look to stay unbeaten in the district against Lenoir City (1-2, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. at home (TV: BBN Sports Online).

“I have worked my hardest to step up as a senior to contribute to the team this year,” Aqqad said. “Those guys really helped me along last year and prepared me for this season.”

Aqqad also worked during the offseason to continue his preparation. He exceeded the team’s expectations and has established himself as an exceptional wide receiver and athlete.

“Almost everyday after school in the winter and even after workouts in the summer, he was out with a quarterback running routes and catching balls,” offensive coordinator Andre Cabellero said.

That preparation that he worked at showed Friday when he adapted to the game situation and made the adjustments needed to get the Bulldogs back into the game.

Despite Aqqad’s efforts, the Bulldogs suffered a tough 41-28 loss at the hands of the Hurricanes. They took an additional loss with a knee injury to senior lineman Caleb Bartlett, who will be replaced by sophomore Blake Cosby.