KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Like many high schools across the state, Bearden was practicing early Monday morning. Accept this time, for the first time this season, the Bulldogs did so in full pads.
"I finally get a chance to hit someone," Bearden linebacker Kole Matherly said.
"(We) finally get a chance to pick up the temp and get a real good look at what we're dealing with this year," Matherly continued.
This year, Bearden returns a core of its starters from a year ago. Six starters are back on offense, with five on defense. The Bulldogs went 8-3 in the 2012, losing to Dobyns-Bennett in the first round of the playoffs.
"I feel like we have a good group. We lost some good players, but we return a veteran offensive line, which is nice," head coach Brad Taylor said.
Taylor also feels good about what he has in the secondary, but the Bulldogs are working to become a better unit defensively up front.
Bearden opens up the season August 23 at Sevier County.