For the past three years, one last name has been particularly troubling for defenses in East Tennessee.
Now in their final season playing together, senior tight end/receiver Addison Ironside and junior quarterback Collin Ironside have had their strongest season thus far. Addison leads Bearden with 47 receptions and has caught six of his brother’s 13 touchdown passes.
“We just have really good chemistry,” Collin Ironside said. “We’ve been playing football together since we were really young.
“We just kind of know each other well and know what to expect out of each other, which translates to the field.”
Not only do the brothers lead the team during games (both are captains), but Coach Morgan Shinlever also believes the two have led the team well in practice.
“Addison and Collin lead by their actions, they lead by their work ethic, they lead by being accountable and doing everything we’ve asked them to do,” Coach Shinlever said. “They try to lift up others around them daily when things aren’t going well with a positive encouragement.
“They’ve really taken on a leadership role within our locker room.”
The brothers hit arguably the peak of their football careers – so far –when they connected for the game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs’ 17-13 win over Farragut earlier in the year.
The two have played with each other for more than 10 years, and their mother Pamela Ironside has seen them work hard since they were young to get Bearden back to being a powerhouse in East Tennessee high school football.
“Addison and Collin both possess a determination to work hard, have a high standard of excellence and are not satisfied with mediocrity,” Pamela said. “Having had older brothers to pass through the Bearden ranks, they saw first-hand a program that was being rebuilt.
“They wanted to be a part of that.”
The duo this season led Bearden to its best start since 2012, the team’s first win over rival Farragut since 2012, and now will look to continue their success at Maryville in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs.
The Bulldogs (8-2) will take on the Rebels (9-1) this Friday at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to have to execute really well,” Ironside said. “Maryville takes advantage of all the little mistakes you make, so we’re going to have to play really well.
“We’ve been emphasizing that this needs to be the best 48 minutes of football we’ve ever played.”
Being the older brother, Addison has been able to lead and encourage Collin not only as a football player, but as a person.
“If I ever got down he would encourage me and pick me back up,” Ironside said. “I feel like he’s been a really good leader for me and taught me a lot about football.
“He’s just made me a better football player and a better person.”