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How the West Was Won

Three veteran Bearden Bulldog football players, eager to talk of “experience,” “staying calm” and “bonding” as keys to ending a seven-game overall losing streak versus Farragut, will clash with many Admirals new to the responsibilities of U.S. Cellular’s How the West Was Won week.

While the BHS campus is reportedly at fever pitch for Friday night’s football showdown in Bearden Stadium, one new Admiral is ready to put a frustrating summer behind him. James Harrill, reportedly a major college prospect as a transfer offensive lineman, is hoping to use Friday’s Sixth Annual U.S. Cellular HWWW clash to successfully launch his senior season.

“First day I came here, we went to defensive camp in Atlanta, Georgia, the first thing [his teammates said], ‘you’ll learn to hate Bearden,’” said Harrill, a 6-foot-1, 300-pounder who transferred from Grace Christian Academy this summer only to be denied FHS eligibility by the TSSAA until late last week. “I can’t wait to go to Bearden, go over there and cause some upset over there. I hear it’s the best rivalry in East Tennessee outside of Alcoa-Maryville.

“I’m so excited, I’ve watched [the rivalry] for years, being around here in this area, I hearing about it. I hope to get to start,” he added, “I have friends that go to Bearden, [including] Ryan Goodrich, he works out with me.”

Harrill, who said major college programs such as Alabama and Arkansas and have shown serious interest, is also motivated to play well on such a big stage and prove a point to Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer. The big Admiral said Fulmer showed serious interest in him this summer then suddenly backed off.

One of many veteran Bulldog standouts, senior defensive end/tight end Matt Williamson, said “experience is definitely a factor. I’ve played with these guys and have known these guys almost my whole life and we have a really senior-heavy team this year. We know each other, we know how each other play and it’s just all clicking this year.”

About his team’s mindset, “We are going to treat them just like any other team that we would play,” Williamson added. “Not really a rival. We are going to focus on winning the game. That’s all it is, just a game. If we get caught up in the past then bad mental things can happen.”

Among other Admirals ready to play in their first Bearden game, junior outside linebacker Jonathan Moskal said he’s “looking forward to it, they’re a really good team this year.” But he quickly added, “They have the State 08 thing going on over there. Their senior class is supposed to be real good this year, and they call it ‘State 08’ because they’re supposed to go to state this year. … It definitely is macho.”

Bearden senior linebacker/-runningback Preston Rouse said that after an 8-7 win at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett last Friday, “We came together and we were pulling for each other the whole game, and we bonded even more in that game. And it just goes to show how close we have become and we’ve always got each others backs.”

Admiral linebacker J.T. Doucette, also a junior, will see his first action against BHS as a defensive starter.

Specifically about the Bulldogs, Doucette said, “the quarterback [Dawson Halliday], he’s pretty good, and the offensive line, I hear, is pretty good, still. They’ve [still] got two receivers they’ve had. We’ve just got to work hard and make sure we’ve got ’em covered, and put pressure on the


Bearden standout lineman Peter Shankles, also a senior, said the Bulldogs’ experience “will really help. I think it will show towards the end of the game in the fourth quarter.” He adding that against the Admirals, “I just try to treat it like any other game. Stay calm and play my best and it usually works out pretty good.”

Opening kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., as both teams enter the game perfect at 3-0. Bearden is looking for its first-ever U.S. Cellular HWWW victory (dating back to 2002), and its first win against the Admirals since a 49-42 double overtime victory at BHS in 2001.

Chris Stokes, area sales manager with U.S. Cellular, said, “Once again, we are very proud to be part of what we consider, and I think many others would consider, one of the biggest rivalries in all of Tennessee.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the farragutpress as a way to get these talented players out in the spotlight,” Stokes added. “These are just two fine schools.

“Personally, it’s my third year that I’ve been a part of this as the area sales manager with U-S Cellular, and I look forward to this game every year. All the pageantry and seeing all the students out and seeing all the passion and emotions that this game brings.”


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