Football – Cleveland vs Bearden Preview

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Football – Cleveland vs Bearden Preview

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The storm was coming. It was finally Football Time in Tennessee again. The fans filled into Benny Monroe. The band led the students into the stadium with the student section and color guard following close behind. Students, parents, coaches, and administrators on the edge of their seats. This it what we’ve been waiting for all spring and summer. Jackson Moore fires a beauty into the “bread basket” of Robert Flowers for a smooth touchdown. It was football time in Cleveland, Tennessee, once again.

And yet, it was all for nothing.

The forecast was bleak for Friday night and everyone knew it. Fans came prepared with ponchos and umbrellas. The storm was coming, and this time, it wasn’t the Blue Raiders. A lightning strike close to the stadium halted the football game at 7 points a piece near the end of the first quarter. TSSAA rules state that all fans must evacuate the area, and so they did. And after more than a 90 minute delay, CHS administrators decided to postpone until Saturday at 1 p.m. Although late Friday night the forecast had 70% chance to thunderstorm all day Saturday, there was hope to get this game played.

But come 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, with the recommendation of the National Weather Service and with good judgment, CHS administration and the football coaches decided it better to be safe than sorry, and they decided to cancel the game. This led to the uproar from Rhea County coaches, players, and fans on social media. Even Terry Goins, a Rhea Herald News reporter, decided to rip into the CHS coaches and administration. Goins wrote, “To avoid a certain loss and possible blowout, they opted to use a bogus weather forecast as a lame excuse to cancel.”

Goins ignores a vital detail in his piece– it was the National Weather Service’s recommendation that drove the core reasoning for the cancellation.

Luckily, on Friday, I felt the need to screenshot the weather forecast for the next day. Mrs. O’Bryan, Coach Turner, and Coach Cummings had every right to cancel the game. This is all about the safety of the players, and after all, all the signs pointed to thunderstorms.

This was the forecast for Saturday after the game was called on Friday.

So, no, Cleveland wasn’t and still isn’t scared of Rhea County. The Blue Raiders offense had their way with the Eagle defense, and had the ball and momentum when the game was called.


Onto the Bearden Bulldogs. Bearden comes into Benny Monroe coming off a 9-0 win over Knox West on Friday. They beat Coach Scott Cummings former team and now look to dethrone the man himself. But that won’t be easy.


Although it’s a small sample size, Jackson Moore went 5 for 5 in the first quarter on Friday. Moore looked sharp all around. He stepped up in the pocket on each throw, and each of them were either between the numbers or beautifully placed over the shoulder of his receiver. Another bright spot on the offense is senior wide receiver Arli Ferguson. Ferguson was on pace to have more than 125 yards receiving. He looked like a reliable WR1 on the field Friday. Look out for the Moore-Ferguson combo on Friday.

Bearden quarterback Collin Ironside will be under center on Friday night. Ironside was the signal caller against Cleveland last year as well, but fell victim to the suffocating Blue Raider defense. He threw 2 picks and had just over 140 yards in the air in Knoxville last August. The Bulldogs will also send out halfback Caleb Wilkins to be the premier player on the offense. For a squad that fell short of the end zone every possession last week, they’ll be hungry to break the plain this week for sure.


Senior cornerback David Dorsey had a breakout campaign in 2017, and he’s expected to be one of the best defensive players in the district in this senior season. Another player to watch for the Blue Raider defense is defensive end Wilson Benefield. Benefield has been the “Swiss army knife” type player for the Blue Raiders in the past. He’s been willing to move wherever the team needs him to play, but this year he looks to be solidified at defensive end. Look for Benefield to make a big play this week against Ironside and the Bearden offense.

The Bearden defense is definitely a lot better than their offense. They shut out West last week, and Coach Cummings is quoted as saying, “It’s going to be a close game.┬áDefensively, they like to take chances…” (Cleveland Daily Banner) A year ago, the Bearden defense couldn’t stop Micaleous Elder and Keegan Jones, but that All-district duo is no more. But don’t let that fool you- the Bowman brothers, Jordan Hickey, and Jeffrey Perez are playmakers. Bearden’s going to have to buckle down and prepare for a speedy run game once more.

Prediction: Cleveland 21, Bearden 10

This Bearden team is a good team, but the Cleveland offense is too well-rounded to be shut down like West last week. And the Blue Raider defense has something to prove after the Terry Goins article. It’s bulletin board material, literally. The article was written on a white board and tweeted by Wilson Benefield on twitter this week. That’s motivation for that defense, and not a good recipe for the Bearden offense.