KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — “Light-years away from where they were this 12 months ago” is how Bearden head football coach Josh Jones described this years’ Bulldogs.

Last year’s “work in progress” squad paved way for the pieces to come together this season.

In Jones’ second season at the helm, the puzzle has a chance to come together, largely due to the amount of effort the Bulldogs have contributed.

“Our kids have worked so hard, and just to get to see the rewards of that, you know if that’s gonna pay off or not,” Jones said. “We have a pretty high expectation out of them in terms of their work ethic and stuff daily in the weight room and on the practice field and all that and they’re exceeded it, they show up every single day and grind, you don’t have to beg them or anything like that they just show up and work and I’m excited to see their hard work pay off.”

Bearden opens their season on the road against reigning Class 5A State Champs, West. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. on Aug. 19.