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Dodgen hopes FHS fortunes follow ‘McMinn mold’ in preparation for arch-rival Bearden Friday night

In addition to his glowing assessment of arch-rival Bearden plus the Bulldogs’ recent hoop mastery over the Farragut boys, Admiral skipper Donald Dodgen thinks the hype for Friday’s “Bearden Week” showdown at FHS is and has been counterproductive to the Admirals.

Every Bearden problem deserves a “McMinn/Bradley” solution. More on that later.

“If the parents and the other people stay out of it, these kids would be all right,” Dodgen said about “Bearden Week” hype. “The problem is people keep bringing up to them. High school kids are high school kids. As long as you keep it out of their mind, and keep them focused on something else, you’ll be all right.”

Although Dodgen acknowledges that Bearden is a “big game,” he points out that “the hardest problem I’ve had in the seven-and-a-half years I’ve been here is keeping their minds focused on just playing. That’s hard for us to do as coaches, because you’ve got everybody else just blowing it so out of proportion.”

A solution? “I used to have that problem when I was at McMinn County (as boys head coach) when we played Bradley Central,” Dodgen said. “I stayed at McMinn 12 years, and for six years we couldn’t beat ’em. The last six years we owned ’em.”

The difference? “It was just one of those things where I finally got the people in the community convinced, ‘hey listen, let the kids play,’ don’t take your child home and say ‘you’ve got to do this and this’ and listen to everybody else. Get it out of your mind and just go play.”

But during the careers of FHS senior standouts Greg Gibson, Jay Hunter and Tim Torrence, Farragut has lost nine of the last 10 games against Bearden, as the Bulldogs have beaten FHS the past three years in post-season tournament play. In fairness, Gibson, Hunter and Torrence were not a part of the first three losses in this current BHS run.

“I’ve gone back and looked at the other (BHS) games since these kids have been freshmen through (last) year, and we’ve played three quarters or three-and-a-half-quarters about as well as we could play,” Dodgen said, “but there’s a quarter somewhere, its either the second quarter or the third quarter or the fourth quarter that we don’t play real well. And that’s where they make their run. That’s where we get in trouble.”

Dodgen can’t say enough good things about Mark Blevins’ ’Dawgs, who entered the week with a perfect 6-0 record.

“He should win the district, the region, the sub-state, and he should go back to the state tournament with the team he’s got this year,” Dodgen said. “I’ve watched them play a couple of different times, and I think they could be better than they were last year. They’re so deep, and and play so hard.”

Individually for Bearden, “the guard play is so excellent, and (Jeremy) Holliday is just playing great right now,” Dodgen said of the ’Dawgs’ 6-foot-6 senior post.

Hunter and junior wing Michael Wright led FHS (2-0 record entering the week) to a 72-53 victory against Powell Nov. 24 at FHS. Hunter led with 22 points, followed by Wright with 15 and Gibson with 12.

“Jay played a real good floor game, I thought it was one of the better games he’s played for us,” Dodgen said.

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