The Bearden football team’s season has come to an end after a loss to McMinn County in the first round of the playoffs last week.
Bearden won four of its five regular season games to propel the Bulldogs into the postseason after an 0-5 start. This came after Bearden had to suspend all football activities for the final two weeks of the preseason due to Covid-19.
Much of the team’s success this year can be attributed, not only to the senior leaders, but to some of the freshman players as well.
“It’s always important to have depth as a football team,” senior linebacker Christian Spining said. “We had a lot of younger guys step up when they needed to fill important roles on the team and make big lays when necessary.”
Freshmen Connor Ruth and Sam Tummins were regular starters by the end of the season, and both were nominated for PrepXtra Athlete of the Week during the season. Ruth had a nomination after the Science Hill game with two interceptions and two tackles, while Tummins had five receptions, 138 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception against Morristown West.
“It’s helped a lot because it’s always good to have depth and to have underclassmen ready to fulfill some rolls when players are hurt or out,” said senior running back Makai Williams, who became Bearden’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Devrin Young in 2010.
Their growth parallels the growth of the team as whole after the two-week delay to start the season.
“It caused us to miss two weeks of practice after being very limited during our summer practice,” Coach Morgan Shinlever said. “It was a continual problem throughout the year because any given day you could lose a player for practice or a game, which we did a few times throughout the season.”
The worst part about the football season is saying goodbye to the seniors that have been in the program for their entire high school football careers. But players’ senior years are a great time to reflect on all the great memories they made during their time as Bulldogs.
“My favorite memory was probably beating Science Hill,” Williams said. “We had a lot of fun playing that game, and everyone was doing their assignments and we just all played as a team.”