After an upset win last week against McMinn County, the football team heads to Dobyns-Bennett for its first appearance in the second round of the playoffs since 2010.
The Bulldogs lost 39-14 to the Indians on Sept. 6; however, they were without multiple players on both offense and defense during their first matchup this season, including starting quarterback Collin Ironside.
Many of those returning players have been instrumental in revitalizing the second half of Bearden’s season. After starting 0-5, the Bulldogs have won five of their last six to get to where they are now.
The 23-6 win over McMinn County in the first round of the playoffs was a complete reversal from their 37-13 loss to the Cherokees on Sept. 27.
“We’re a different team,” head coach Morgan Shinlever said. “So obviously when you’re a different team, you expect different outcomes.”
Dobyns-Bennett (9-2, 5-1 Region 1-6A) won the region title with their only two losses coming to defending 3A state champion Alcoa and Science Hill, whom Bearden beat in the regular-season finale 31-20 just a few weeks ago.
The injuries throughout the season allowed other players to get more playing and experience to help develop the players and build depth on the team.
“Our kids are very resilient and tough individuals,” Shinlever said. “They continue to work, they continue to believe in what we’re doing, they continue to grind.”
If Bearden beats Dobyns-Bennett and Maryville beats Farragut on Friday, the Bulldogs would host a quarterfinal game from the first time since 2007 and a home playoff game for the first time since 2015. If the Bulldogs win, but Farragut upsets Maryville, Bearden would go back to Bill Clabo Field for the second time this year.
Kickoff on Friday is 7 p.m. in Kingsport.