KNOXVILLE — Sophomore wide receiver London Stephney said Bearden High School’s football team is peaking at the right time. He’s also finding joy in catching passes from another sophomore — quarterback Collin Ironside.
“We’re going after a region championship,” said Stephney, who had five receptions and scored twice in the Bulldogs’ 48-10 victory over Christian Academy of Knoxville before a packed house Friday night, Sept. 22, at BHS's Bill Young Field. “We have a great quarterback in Collin. We have two great running backs [Sam Coffin and D.J. Cox] and we have great receivers.
“Collin and I work great together and he knows where I’m going to be," Stephney added.
Bearden [4-2] and CAK [0-6] slugged through a scoreless first quarter. The Bulldogs committed 102 yards in penalties before halftime.
The Warriors moved the ball effectively early. CAK took a 3-0 lead when Zande Tonkin kicked a 24-yard field goal with 10:28 remaining in the second frame.
Shortly after Bearden went up 7-3 on a 16-yard run by Coffin, CAK pulled ahead 10-7 when quarterback Stewart Howell scored from 13 yards out, diving headfirst into the end zone with 1:35 to play in the second stanza. “This has been hard. But we just have to get back to work and correct our mistakes,” Howell said.
The Bulldogs scored twice in the final minute before halftime.
Ironside threw a 71-yard touchdown strike to Hayden Candela with 52 seconds left in the half.
Bearden got an interception from Colten Tyler, then cashed in when Ironside threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Stephney.
Ironside and Stephney connected on a 3-yard shuttle pass for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. The Bulldogs made it 35-10 when Ironside hooked up with Jacob Klenck from 54-yards out.
Dawson Houser added a 40-yard touchdown run.
Backup quarterback Eli Snyder threw a 91-yard scoring bomb to Kahlil Abdullah with 1:35 left.
“We did some bonehead things in the first half but we were able to clean things up,” BHS head coach Morgan Shinlever said. “CAK has a great program and this game came for us at a good time in the schedule.
“This was our last non-region game and the last time for us to try some things before we close out with the rest of our region games,” he added.
“This one was tough,” Warriors head coach Travis Mozingo said. “There’s a lot of things that go on when you try to execute an offense or a defense and sometimes I feel like we do nine or 10 things right.
“Then, you have that one mistake and it tends to snowball and we’re not able to stay on schedule," he added. "I’m proud of my guys because they battled tonight. We did some good things early. But we have a lot of guys playing both ways. I knew that we’d have to get out ahead and hang on.”