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Grid ’Dawgs must replace 21 starters

It’s one thing for a high school football team to reload after a severe drain of talent due to graduation.

It’s another thing to lose 21 of 22 starters.

That’s how strong Brad Taylor’s Bearden Bulldogs senior class was last fall — going all the way to the TSSAA state semifinals.

But now?

“We lost a lot of good football players,” said Taylor, entering his second season as BHS head coach during spring drills. “We had really good numbers out [98] and we’ve got a lot of good, young football players. Had a good freshmen team [last fall]. Kinda similar to these seniors that just graduated had as a freshmen team.

“There’s going to be some sophomores that are going to have to play a lot,” Taylor added. “There’s some talent in there. They’re just going to be young. ... I think we’re going to be O-K, a little growing pains here and there, maybe.”

Senior linebacker Tanner Fine returns as the only Bulldog starter on either side of the ball from last fall’s 12-2 team that won Region 1-5A and featured one of the best defenses in the state.

Seniors Travis Roberson (6-foot-2, 280-pound tackle) and Forest Young (offensive lineman/defensive end) “both played a lot, but they didn’t start.”

Overall, “I was really pleased with spring,” Taylor said of the April 28 to May 9 session culminating in the annual Maroon-Gray spring game. “We scrimmaged Oak Ridge. I felt like we did really well.”

Young “really did well in that Oak Ridge scrimmage ... as well as Davis Tull, receiver who played defensive end for us,” Taylor said. “Our defensive ends looked good.

“Some young linebackers that are going to be good, too, which include Drew Williams,” Taylor added. “I think he’s going to as good as his brother [Matt].”

Most impressive thing offensively? “Our young quarterbacks did really well,” Taylor said.

Spring quarterbacks were sophomore Kyle Riemer and junior Mark Slay. “Mark will probably work at receiver some for us, too,” Taylor said, adding that in the ORHS scrimmage, “Kyle Riemer really did a nice job, made some nice throws.”

As a two-year back-up quarterback last fall, Ryan Potter played baseball and was unavailable for spring. “He has a good understanding of what we’re doing. ... He has the knowledge, he just doesn’t have the experience.”

Track athletes unavailable in spring were runningbacks/defensive backs Scott Carvin and Devrin Young; from baseball, receiver Patrick Dalton. “Both of the baseball guys are going to play a lot for us,” Taylor said. “Dalton played quite a bit last season.”

Carvin “is probably going to play a lot on defense for us,” Taylor added. “Devrin’s probably going to have to play both sides of the ball quite a bit. He’s really going to be a talented little runningback. Got great speed.”

Senior Brandon Reagan is back to handle punts and placekicking.


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