Going opposite ways: Bearden at FHS for playoff berth

Neither Morgan Shinlever nor Eddie Courtney could remember a regular season Bearden versus Farragut varsity football game where the stakes were so high.

Shinlever’s BHS Bulldogs, despite a 4-5 overall record, will travel to FHS’s Bill Clabo Field riding the wave of beating two outstanding offensive teams — Cleveland Oct. 15 then Anderson County Oct. 22 — with strong defense and clutch plays late in the game from an offense that has struggled often in 2021.

“Any time you can put a win backed up against another win, I think your kids really start believing in what you are doing,” Shinlever said.

For Courtney’s Admirals (3-6), there’s been a flood of disappointing close losses this season, including the past two weeks: late scores have resulted in a 3-point home loss to Bradley Central and a 4-point setback last Friday at Fulton (33-29).

However, it’s winner take all — meaning a trip to the Class 6A playoffs as a No. 4 seed — with the loser of this showdown Friday night, Oct. 29, seeing its season end with a below .500 record.

Opening kickoff is 7 p.m.

Bearden 15 ACHS 12

“Our defense, we’ve been riding them all year,” said Shinlever, whose Bulldogs edged ACHS 15-12 at BHS’s Bill Young Field last Friday. “They kept us in the game … prevented Anderson County from taking advantage of some good opportunities.

“We set ourselves up there, with about five minutes to go in the game, and our offense put together probably one of their better drives of the season,” he added. “And it materialized into a go-ahead score.”

Freshman quarterback Drew Parrott scored both Bearden touchdowns, the last with about five minutes to play ending a 71-yard drive, putting the Bulldogs ahead 13-12. Parrott then found Max Giesecke with a 2-point pass, and the BHS defense again did the rest.

“We were able to consistently execute all the way down the field,” Shinlever said.

“The last three weeks we’ve really started seeing Drew grow,” the BHS coach added.

Defensively, sophomore Cody Clough recovered a fumble against the Mavericks, while sophomore defensive back Sam Tummins grabbed a interception.

“And our defense turned them over on downs twice,” Shinlever added. “Sam Nicaud, our nose tackle, had a big game. He had his work cut out for him for sure.”

Facing the Admirals

“Farragut’s always a well-coached football team in all aspects,” Shinlever said. “The other thing that always impresses me about Farragut is how hard their defense plays. They’ve got guys that really fly to and pursue the football.

“Offensively, they can put up points.”

Realizing the Admirals have lost four games by four points or less, Shinlever said FHS “could easily be an 8-1 football team. … They’re a hair away from having a tremendous year.”

As for the bottom line, “On paper this has the makings of being one of those classic Bearden-Farragut matchups,” the BHS coach said.

Fulton 33 Ads 29

“Our kids have played hard all year long,” Courtney said. “It’s just been a couple of plays here and there that we needed to make in the last three to four minutes that we couldn’t make.”

Dawson Moore, Ads senior quarterback, completed 15-of-19 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) at Fulton.

Senior receiver Trace Corum caught four passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 2-point conversion grab, while also scoring on a 6-yard run.

Noah Gunter’s two receptions for 26 yards included a TD. While the Ads out-passed the Falcons 175 versus 67, Fulton out-rushed Farragut 388 versus 85.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jack Alley led in total tackles with 12 (seven solo), two for minus yardage, followed by senior linebacker Sam Moses with eight (five solo).

Facing the Bulldogs

“Their defense had played well all year long,” Courtney said about Bearden. “I think the difference is Bearden now has found an identity on offense. ... They’ve gotten better as the season’s gone along.”

Courtney also warned “not to get too hyped up in this game; we just need to be even-keel with it. Just be focused enough to make a few big plays.

“The kids will be ready to play on both sides,” he added. “It’s Senior Night, and that will add a little more emotion.”