Swain County athletic director/football coach Neil Blankenship was recently presented with an NCHSAA Special Person award.
The recognition took place at a Sept. 22 regional meeting conducted by the state association in Asheville. Criteria for the award was someone who has at least 10 years of experience and has “regularly gone above and beyond the call of duty at both the local and state level,” according to the NCHSAA.
Blankenship has been in his current roles with the Maroon Devils since 2012 and has been part of their faculty since 1992. He has a 41-41 career record and has reached 40 wins faster than any previous coach in school history.
The rushing of Dillon Smith (121 yards, one touchdown) and Brody Sitton (81 yards, one touchdown) helped provide Friday’s 43-22 win at Hayesville.
It was the Smoky Mountain Conference opener for the Maroon Devils (3-3, 1-0) who piled up 362 rushing yards as a team.
“We did a good job running the football,” Blankenship said.
“We’ve still got plenty of work to do, but I’m proud. We told the kids all week, all our goals are still out there to get. We lost some tough (nonconference) games early on. Our kids don’t like losing. But the season isn’t over, all our goals are still out there.”
The injury bug has bitten Swain County particularly hard. Last year’s leading rusher, Chris Miller (knee), is out for the year as is fellow junior Johnny Woodard (shoulder). Woodard was second on this season’s team in tackles with 6.2 per game.
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