Looks can be deceiving and the biggest thing that may misinform people as to just how good the Morristown East Hurricanes’ opponent this week is may be their record.
The Canes will travel to Knoxville to take on the Bearden Bulldogs, a team that got off to a rough start in their first two games. Bearden was outscored 114-27 in their first two games of the season against Sevier County and Fulton. But East coach Dwayne Hatcher said the discrepancy in scoring doesn’t tell the whole story.
“The score was 34-27 at halftime against Sevier County and Bearden had two turnovers at the start of the second half that blew the game open,” Hatcher said. “Sevier County did the same thing to Bearden they did to us in shutting them down offensively in the second half. They lost to Fulton but Fulton may be the best team in Tennessee this year. So those are not two good teams to compare Bearden’s abilities to. They are one of the best teams on our schedule this year.”
The Bulldogs bounced back last week, defeating Heritage 54-28. Morristown West transfer Malachi Horton had 197 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns, including a 69-yard punt return for a score. Hatcher said that Horton presents a big challenge to his defense.
“You have to play team defense and Malachi is a big part of their offense so he is someone we will have to focus on,” Hatcher said. “But we can’t just sell out totally to stop him and have Bearden hurt us some other way. Their quarterback is a good player who can run and we have to make sure we play all-around good team defense.”
The Canes are hoping to duplicate their defensive performance from last week’s hard-fought loss to Sevier County. East befuddled the high-octane Smoky Bear offense as they forced four turnovers which included two interceptions by Jacob Samsel and one by Bailey Overbay.
“I was talking to (Sevier County head coach) Steve Brewer and he said that was the fewest points they have scored in a regular season game since 2009,” Hatcher stated. “Defensively, it was a great effort and I think we did very well in the kicking game. Offensively, we did things to hurt ourselves and Sevier County brought the house with blitzing and stunting and that gave us trouble. I see several things that we could have done differently in that game and I know that offensively, we could have played better than what we played.”
The East offense has been productive in 2013 as they are averaging 322 yards per game while the defense is chipping in to limit the opponents to only 18 points per game. Matt Thompson has scored six touchdowns and quarterback Logan Wallace has shown his versatility as he has thrown three touchdowns and passed for two more.
The Hurricanes are looking to put all three phases of their game together and pick up a big non-conference road win as they travel to Knoxville to take on the Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
-By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent