Unless noted, all kickoffs at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain Athletic 3-A/4-A
ASHEVILLE (6-1, 1-1) at MCDOWELL (3-5, 0-3)
Last week: Asheville beat Enka, 55-7; McDowell lost to Erwin, 34-23.
Last year: Asheville beat McDowell, 48-14.
Notes: Downhill running is the only kind that Reggie Battle knows. Battle (1,045 yards, 11 touchdowns) became a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for Ashevillle High last Friday and has 2,494 combined yards between his junior and senior seasons. The Cougars offense averages 33.1 points per game with sizable contributions from Devon Davidson (827 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions) along with receivers like Isaiah Drummond (14 receptions for 267 yards and four touchdowns), Aquila Smith (nine receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown) and Shamauri Shivers (seven receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown). Christian Green (11.7 tackles per game) heads up the defense along with Micah Robertson (8.6), Jose Daniels (8.4), Makaius Brewer (7.3) and Shivers (5.0). McDowell senior Casey Ray (1,184 yards and 13 touchdowns with 12 interceptions) set career school records for passing yards (4,080) and touchdown throws (32) last Friday. Ray also holds the Titans’ records for single-game yardage (348) and single-season yardage (1,741). Ray had 126 yards at Erwin and his 3-yard touchdown to Tyler Banks (18 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns) came at the 8:33 mark of the second quarter. The former McDowell record for career passing touchdowns (31) was held by Jason Van Dyke, a 1989 Shrine Bowl player. Ethan McMahan (36 receptions for 517 yards and seven touchdowns) and Chase Justice (24 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown) rank first and second among Titans receivers. Terion Camp (680 yards, three touchdowns) has now run for 100-plus yards in his last four games and Matthew Moss (493 yards, four touchdowns) is another threat out of the backfield. Defensively, the team relies on Devon Patton (6.9 tackles per game), Campbell (6.3), Adam Randolph (5.3) and Kaali Tobe (4.3). Asheville leads the all-time series with McDowell, 16-1, with that anomaly stemming from a 13-0 game in 1983.
Pick: Asheville by 21.
REYNOLDS (6-1, 2-0) at ENKA (1-7, 0-3)
Last week: Reynolds did not play; Enka lost to Asheville, 55-7.
Last year: Reynolds beat Enka, 76-10.
Notes: Shrine Bowl snub notwithstanding, Reynolds senior Rico Dowdle (1,338 rushing yards, 721 passing yards and 33 combined touchdowns) is piecing together one of the greatest football seasons in Western North Carolina history. Dowdle is tied for the state lead in scoring (162 points), according to MaxPreps, and on pace to challenge the area’s single-season record for touchdown responsibility (55). His supporting cast on offense includes A.J. Logan (610 rushing yards, 175 receiving yards and six combined touchdowns) and Eunique Waters (11 receptions for 102 yards and one touchdown). The defense is headed up by Aundreas Hill (12.3 tackles per game), Najae Buchanan (8.6), Deshawn Finley (7.1), Austin McCurry (6.3), Noah Eberhardt (6.0) and Talon James (5.7). Enka’s offense continues to feed off of Michael Cantrell (1,060 yards, 11 touchdowns), Jason Fabio (597 yards and two touchdowns with seven interceptions) and receivers such as Chase Bennett (19 receptions for 173 yards and one touchdown), Avery Holbrook (15 receptions for 125 yards) and Sayquan Bethea (13 receptions for 146 yards). Bryson Buckner has secured a team-high 7.4 tackles per game in his first season with the Jets defense, which also includes Zane Turner (6.6), Chance Hannah (6.4), Avery Holbrook (6.4), Hunter Kinser (5.4), J.R. Banks (5.3), Bryson Allen (4.9), Garrett Banks (4.5) and Chase Bennett (4.0). Reynolds leads this all-time series by a count of 32-15-1 and hasn’t lost to the Jets since 1995.
Pick: Reynolds by 28.
WNC Athletic 2-A/3-A
BREVARD (2-5, 0-3) at WEST HENDERSON (5-2, 2-1)
Last week: Brevard lost to East Henderson, 31-28; West Henderson beat Pisgah, 16-12.
Last year: West Henderson beat Brevard, 56-21.
Notes: “Monday Night Lights” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Stephen Perron (9.2 tackles per game) and West Henderson had played on back-to-back Mondays before a statement win in Canton last Friday. James Murray made his first field goal of the season (31 yards), followed by touchdowns from Landon Owen (5.6 tackles per game) and Shack Rospel (4.4). Peyton Frisbee (281 yards, four touchdowns) has stepped up as the team’s primary rusher since an injury to Tanner Bullock (477 yards, six touchdowns). Tristan Thomas (13 receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown) is the favorite receiver for Brandon Whitaker (236 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions). Brevard junior Tanner Ellenberger (1,045 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions) is the first WNCAC quarterback to go over 1,000 passing yards thanks to a collection of receivers that includes Tanner Pettit (548 rushing yards, 225 receiving yards and eight combined touchdowns), Nick Cabe (22 receptions for 342 yards and five touchdowns) and Hamilton Lopez (15 receptions for 194 yards and one touchdown). Pettit and Kyle Williams are both averaging 10.7 tackles per game for the Blue Devils. Other key defenders are Earon Wilkes (8.2 tackles per game) and Lopez (4.4).
Pick: West Henderson by 7.
EAST HENDERSON (1-6, 1-2) at SMOKY MOUNTAIN (3-4, 1-2)
Last week: East Henderson beat Brevard, 31-28; Smoky Mountain lost to Franklin, 21-7.
Last year: East Henderson beat Smoky Mountain, 13-6.
Notes: When it comes to wins, these Eagles no longer have an empty nest. Trace Goldsmith (661 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions) passed for 153 yards last Friday as East Henderson broke a nine-game losing streak. Goldsmith has directed most of his passes to Josh Glynn (19 receptions for 316 yards and four touchdowns) and Nick Lyons (12 receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown). Cole Revis (275 yards, two touchdowns) and Nick Lyons (232 yards, three touchdowns) have combined for more than 500 rushing yards on the season. Defensive standouts for the Eagles are Revis (7.4 tackles per game), Lyons (6.0), Coal Webb (5.3) and Andrew Morgan (4.3). Smoky Mountain senior Chase Fisher (402 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions) connected with Eli Cole for a 60-yard touchdown last Friday. Fisher finished with his second 100-yard game of the season. Connor Moore (10 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns) has emerged as his most trusted option. Carlos Pantoja (13.1 tackles per game), Moore (6.6), Kevin Allred (6.4) and Jacob Gass (5.9) are the Mustangs’ most active defenders.
Pick: Smoky Mountain by 10.
NORTH HENDERSON (5-2, 2-1) at FRANKLIN (5-2, 3-0)
Last week: North Henderson beat Tuscola, 17-14; Franklin beat Smoky Mountain, 21-7.
Last year: Franklin beat North Henderson, 49-14.
Notes: It’s lonely at the top. Franklin and Kelton Lowry (881 yards, 13 touchdowns) have rattled off 16 consecutive WNCAC wins dating back to 2012 and are the only team with a perfect record this fall. Lowry ran for two touchdowns a week ago. Jackson Perone (536 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions), Hunter Gibbs (470 yards, two touchdowns) and Jordin Nugent (12 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns) are other big contributors. The pressure has been off the offense that past couple weeks with the defense allowing just a touchdown apiece to Pisgah and Smoky Mountain. Leaders for that unit are Gibbs (12.1), Dillon Daves (6.6), Lowry (6.3), Clayton Phillips (6.0), Ethan Volk (6.0), Kendrick Bryson (5.7) and Logan Tallent (5.6). North Henderson senior Trevor Craft (810 passing yards, 704 rushing yards and 16 combined touchdowns) accounted for all his team’s scoring last week with two touchdowns runs, the ensuing extra-point kicks and a 23-yard field goal. His favorite receivers have been the duo of Ashton Woodring (19 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns) and Darren Lammons (15 receptions for 319 yards and four touchdowns). The defense is fortified by Cole McCarson (10.6 tackles per game), Austin Vanhoy (9.7) and Cameron Bumgarner (6.9).
Pick: Franklin by 7.
PISGAH (4-3, 1-2) at TUSCOLA (5-2, 2-1)
Last week: Pisgah lost to West Henderson, 16-12; Tuscola lost to North Henderson, 17-14.
Last year: Pisgah beat Tuscola, 37-20.
Notes: Christmas comes twice a year in Haywood County. Residents observe Dec. 25 just like everybody else and there’s this Friday night in autumn. The Great American Rivalry Series is showcasing Pisgah-Tuscola for the seventh consecutive year which means scholarship opportunities for both teams and a trophy to the winner. The Mountaineers and Caleb Ferguson (846 rushing yards, 265 receiving yards and 14 combined touchdowns) lead this all-time series, 26-24-1, but have lost the last two games to their neighbors to the east. Roman Jenkins (477 yards, six touchdowns), Brent Turner (325 yards, three touchdowns) and Zach Webster (667 passing yards, 313 rushing yards and 11 combined touchdowns) are other playmakers out of the triple-option offense. Webster had been interception-free until last week, but the quarterback still leads his team in tackles (9.7) along with Taylor Austin (9.4), Joe Napert (8.6), Grayson Perkins and Eli Trantham (6.7). Pisgah quarterback Houston Rogers (624 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions) threw his seventh and eighth touchdowns of the year last Friday. Daniel VanVaerenbergh (975 yards, eight touchdowns) Trey Morgan (21 receptions for 278 yards and five touchdowns) and Jesse Martinez (20 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns) are other weapons around him. Tackling leaders for the Black Bears are Jeff Albrittton (4.7 per game), Garrett Jones (4.6), Isaiah Fisher (4.1) and Trey Morgan (4.1).
Pick: Pisgah by 1.
Western Highlands 1-A/2-A
MADISON (0-7, 0-2) at OWEN (1-6, 1-2)
Last week: Madison did not play; Owen lost to Mountain Heritage, 50-3.
Last year: Owen beat Madison, 44-13.
Notes: Field goals are great. But they usually don’t win football games by themselves. Cyrus Hooper’s 32-yard kick with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter was the only points that Owen scored last Friday in Burnsville. Sidney Gibbs (1,190 yards, 13 touchdowns), Hooper (278 yards, seven touchdowns) and the rest of the Warhorses will be looking for a lot more in their return home. Gibbs takes his handoffs from DeMarcus Harper (684 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions), who has sent the majority of his passes to either Bricen Fowler (24 receptions for 401 yards and one touchdown) or Hooper (12 receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown). Hooper also happens to be Owen’s top tackler (5.7 per game), followed by Landon Hollar (5.6), Alex Huntsinger (4.7), Colby Maloney (4.4), Justin Wilson (4.4), Fowler (4.3), Gibbs (4.0) and Tyler Sexton (4.0). Madison and Colby Edwards (641 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions) haven’t been in action since a 56-27 loss to Hendersonville on Oct. 5. Edward passed for 153 yards that evening and Derek Gonzalez (357 yards, two touchdowns) ran for 139 yards and a pair of scores. Receiving standouts are Dawson Coates (15 receptions for 332 yards and three touchdowns) and Austin Payne (14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns). The defense takes its cues from Wesley Barnett (11.9 tackles per game), Keagan Foley (6.9), Coates (5.3), Logan Roberts (5.3) and Dakota Surrett (5.3).
Pick: Owen by 14.
POLK COUNTY (3-5, 1-2) at AVERY COUNTY (1-6, 0-2)
Last week: Polk County lost to Mitchell, 28-27; Avery County lost to Hendersonville, 37-30.
Last year: Polk County beat Avery County, 37-13.
Notes: So close, so many times. Polk County and Jamal Wheeler (1,031 rushing yards) gave undefeated Mitchell its toughest game yet on Oct. 8. Wheeler finished with 18 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Wheeler is one of three mountain quarterbacks to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season along with Mountain Heritage sophomore Trey Robinson and Reynolds senior Rico Dowdle. Defensively, Donivan Twitty and Storm Wheeler each recorded a half-dozen tackles against Mitchell, followed by Jaymes Wingo and Elijah Sutton with five apiece. But last week’s loss was the Wolverines’ fourth by six or less points. Five losses are the program’s most since 2008. Luke Crowe and Avery County were also in a dogfight a week ago with Hendersonville. Crowe passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns to Brett Smith and Levi McIntosh.
Pick: Polk County by 7.
HENDERSONVILLE (4-4, 3-0) at MITCHELL (7-0, 2-0)
Last week: Hendersonville beat Avery County, 37-30; Mitchell beat Polk County, 28-27.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Mitchell, 24-18.
Notes: Breathe deeply. Michael Schmidt and preseason Western Highlands Conference favorite Hendersonville have found their second wind after a 1-3 start. Schmidt (2,276 passing yards, 562 rushing yards and 26 combined touchdowns) remains the only WNC player with 2,000-plus yards in an offensive category. The senior has thrown for 913 yards in WHC wins over Avery County, Madison and Mountain Heritage. The Bearcats’ receiving corps is a group that includes Tykel Landrum (41 receptions for 842 yards and seven touchdowns), Michael Cook (33 receptions for 548 yards and six touchdowns), Terrold Gary (25 receptions for 249 yards), Quintin Wright (23 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns) and Leon Cooks (19 receptions for 356 yards and four touchdowns). Gary has taken over the No. 1 spot in rushing (588 yards, five touchdowns) and Cooks (247 yards, three touchdowns) has also been valuable in that regard. Blaine Sharpe (9.3 tackles per game), Shawn Pearce (7.4), Landrum (6.6) and Cole McMurray (5.9). Mitchell and Ben Young (1,097 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions) remain the only undefeated team in WNC and were sixth in this week’s Associated Press rankings for NCHSAA 1-A. Young is a sophomore well on the way to surpassing his yardage (1,202) from 2014. He is surrounded by weapons such as Dalton Beaver (495 yards, seven touchdowns), Cy Thomas (413 yards, four touchdowns), Peyton Greene (304 yards, five touchdowns), Tre Carson (29 receptions for 464 yards and three touchdowns) and Justin Greene (14 receptions for 179 yards). Defensive standouts are Beaver (9.9 tackles per game), Will Atkins (7.8), Alex Parker (4.3) and Todd Self (4.3).
Pick: Mitchell by 7.
Smoky Mountain 1-A
ANDREWS (3-5, 0-3) at SWAIN COUNTY (4-3, 2-0)
Last week: Andrews lost to Murphy, 14-7; Swain County beat Cherokee, 28-0.
Last year: Swain County beat Andrews, 42-0.
Notes: Crack the top-10 in an all-time statistical category at Swain County and you’ve done something. Maroon Devils senior Ross Ensley is currently ninth with 257 career tackles and averaging 10.0 per game this fall. Brody Sitton (413 yards, four touchdowns) has rushed for all but 78 of his yards in the past two weeks. Trent Wright (395 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions) has targeted Jordan Cody (255 rushing yards, 136 rushing yards and a touchdown) with most of his passes. Issiah Bradley (6.3), Caleb Woodard (4.4), Cody (4.3) and Sitton (4.0) are other tackling leaders. Dillan Ward scored the only touchdown for Andrews a week ago. The Wildcats have a steep hill to climb Friday in Bryson City. They haven’t beaten Swain County since 1998 and are behind in the all-time series, 53-6.
Pick: Swain County by 7.
ROSMAN (5-2, 2-1) at CHEROKEE (3-4, 0-2)
Last week: Rosman lost to Robbinsville, 37-29; Cherokee lost to Swain County, 28-0.
Last year: Cherokee beat Rosman, 46-22.
Notes: Face it, Rosman senior Gage Orr is going to get his yards. Orr (945 yards, 16 touchdowns) has been playing quarterback in recent weeks even though he is naturally a running back. In reality, that just means Orr receives direct snaps. He is averaging 10.5 yards a carry and had 192 yards and four touchdowns in last Friday’s nail-biter with defending NCHSAA 1-A champion Robbinsville. His passing numbers are 209 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Tanner Green (656 yards, seven touchdowns) and the Tigers have won six consecutive games in this series. Defensively, the team is led by Jacob Hall (8.0 tackles per game), Tyler Petit (6.0), David Burrell (5.8), Andres Villagomez (5.0), Colton Holbrook (4.4), Green (4.1) and Ethan Shook (4.0). Cherokee sophomore Tye Mintz (960 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions) is bearing down on his first 1,000-yard season at the varsity level with the help of Jason McMillan (30 receptions for 430 yards and seven touchdowns), Darius Blanton (19 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns) and Isaiah Evans (12 receptions for 122 yards). Mintz has also scrambled for a team-high 508 yards and six touchdowns. The Braves’ top tacklers remain Kennan Panther (11.6 per game), Logan Teesateskie (10.4), Dodge Crowe-Moss (6.5), Will Davis (6.1), Mintz (5.7) and Anthony Toineeta (5.3).
Pick: Rosman by 14.
HAYESVILLE (3-3, 0-2) at ROBBINSVILLE (5-2, 3-0)
Last week: Hayesville did not play; Robbinsville beat Rosman, 37-29.
Last year: Robbinsville beat Hayesville, 49-23 (regular season) and 35-0 (first round of NCHSAA 1-A playoffs).
Notes: No other mountain team has walked the fine line between winning and losing as nimbly as Robbinsville. The defending NCHSAA 1-A champion Black Knights and Colton Millsaps (534 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions) have won three of their games by eight points or less, and all on the road. Millsaps’ fourth touchdown pass of the season found the hands of Kyler Brooks (nine receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown) with 37 seconds to go last Friday. Lane Millsaps continues to lead the team in rushing (727 yards, four touchdowns) and receiving (12 receptions for 139 yards). Other dangerous players with the ball tucked under their arm are Ian Wiggins (453 yards, seven touchdowns) and Colby Hemphill (302 yards, five touchdowns). Paden Welch (9.7 tackles per game), Chad McCoy (8.1), Brooks (8.0) and Elijah Wachacha (7.0) power the defense. Hayesville lost leading rusher Josh Harris (671 yards, six touchdowns) to an injury in its last game – a 43-22 home loss to Swain County on Oct. 2. Kyle Rhinehardt (682 yards and three touchdowns with four touchdowns) has spread the ball around to receivers such as Braxton Cox (11 receptions for 286 yards and five touchdowns) and Noah Finnegan (10 receptions for 77 yards). The Yellow Jackets defense relies on Logan Cowart (7.8 tackles per game), Owen Gibson (6.8), Colton Thomas (6.3) and Chayton McClure (5.4).
Pick: Robbinsville by 14.
ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (3-3) at CANNON SCHOOL (4-3), 7 p.m.
Last week: Asheville School beat the Carolina Gladiators, 62-0; Cannon School beat Hickory Grove Christian, 13-7.
Last year: Asheville School beat Cannon School, 33-8.
Notes: Rarely has Asheville School ever won by as many points. And as usual, David Schill was right in the middle of it. Schill (906 passing yards, 326 rushing yards and 17 combined interceptions) threw for four touchdowns last week to Ahmad Galimore (27 receptions for 414 yards and five touchdowns), Chris Amoroso (14 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns) and younger brother J.P. Schill (15 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown). David Schill also made seven tackles and an interception on defense. For the season, Rashad Morrison (600 yards, seven touchdowns) is the team’s top rusher. David Schill (8.3 tackles per game), J.P. Schill (7.3), Amoroso (7.3), Fisher Howard (6.5) and Titus Morrison (6.0) fortify the defense. Cannon School’s coach is one of the most beloved players in Carolina Panthers and Western Carolina University history – former fullback Brad Hoover. He accumulated 2,007 total yards (1,046 receiving, 961 rushing) and nine combined touchdowns as an NFL player from 2000 to 2009. Cannon School is Hoover’s third coaching job in three years. He went 6-6 at Union Academy in 2013 and was 3-9 at Marvin Ridge last season.
Pick: Cannon School by 1.
RABUN GAP, Ga. (5-2) at CHRIST SCHOOL (5-2), 7 p.m.
Last week: Rabun Gap beat the Anderson (S.C.) Cavaliers, 49-21; Christ School beat First Assembly Christian, 46-34.
Last year: Rabun Gap beat Christ School, 22-8.
Notes: No one airs it out in Arden like Christ School junior Drew Johnson. Maybe ever. Johnson (1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions) passed for a career-high 387 yards and five touchdowns a week ago. Fifth-year coach Mark Moroz can say with authority that no quarterback in his stint with the Greenies has thrown for more yards in one game. Johnson is the latest winner of the Mission Health Spotlight Performance of the Week award. Receivers who helped make it happen are Kokayi Cobb (19 receptions for 246 yards and one touchdown), Jared Letman-Gash (15 receptions for 499 yards and eight touchdowns) and Tyler Redmond (14 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns). Key defenders are Charlie Claffey (8.3 tackles per game), Tyler Redmond (7.2), Carson Jones (6.7) and Keyvon Cobb (5.0). Rabun Gap and Dallas Earnhardt (1,775 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions) are 2-1 against WNC competition this season with wins over Asheville School (47-14 on Oct. 2) and the Carolina Gladiators (55-6 on Aug. 29) with a loss to Robbinsville (36-22 on Sept. 10). The Eagles are coached by Dale Earnhardt, who was 33-37 in seven seasons at Asheville School before resigning in 2007.
Pick: Rabun Gap by 3.