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Friday’s WNC football capsules | USA Today High School Sports

Kokayi Cobb and Christ School are back home for Friday's game against Hickory Grove Christian.

Kokayi Cobb and Christ School are back home for Friday’s game against Hickory Grove Christian.

Unless noted, all kickoffs at 7:30 p.m.

Mountain Athletic 3-A/4-A

ROBERSON (2-6, 1-2) at ASHEVILLE (7-1, 2-1)

Last week: Roberson lost to Erwin, 35-31; Asheville beat McDowell, 54-7.

Last year: Asheville beat Roberson, 49-7.

Notes: Let’s make a Deal. Second-year Roberson coach Chris Deal decided to take his offense in a new direction last week, giving son Luke Deal (95 rushing yards, 75 passing yards and two combined touchdowns) his first varsity start at quarterback. The freshman rewarded that confidence by running for two early touchdowns to help give the Rams a 28-7 first-half lead. Otherwise, Dezmond Moorman (552 yards, eight touchdowns) has been the team’s chief rushing threat while Denzel Summey (14 receptions for 282 yards and two touchdowns) is the only Rams player with double-digit catches. Roberson’s defense is strengthened by Seth Griswold (12.4 tackles per game), Logan Wells (10.0), Robert Balcom (6.3), Greg Johnston (4.5), Gilbert Whiteside (4.5) and Ian McAdoo (4.3). The Asheville offense feeds off of Devon Davidson (902 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions), Reggie Battle (1,125 yards, 14 touchdowns), Ahmad Shivers (324 yards, five touchdowns), Aquila Smith (306 yards, six touchdowns) and Isaiah Drummond (15 receptions for 314 yards and five touchdowns). On the other side of the ball, the Cougars depend on Christian Green (11.4 tackles per game), Jose Daniels (8.0), Makaius Brewer (6.5) and Kanaje Allen (4.6). Longtime Asheville assistant coach Charlie Metcalf has recently returned to practices after receiving aggressive chemotherapy at Duke University. Metcalf, who has been on the team’s staff for 12 years, is batting cancer for the second time. The Cougars lead this all-time series, 19-5, with the last Roberson victory coming in 2012.

Pick: Asheville by 14.

NORTH BUNCOMBE (4-4, 3-0) at ERWIN (5-4, 3-1)

Last week: North Buncombe did not play; Erwin beat Roberson, 35-31.

Last year: Erwin beat North Buncombe, 45-14.

Notes: Some quarterbacks are good on a week-to-week basis. Others are lethal on any given night. And then some are both like Erwin junior Damien Ferguson (2,197 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions). The Warriors signal-caller passed for a single-game school record 449 yards in last week’s live TV win over Roberson. Ferguson has now strung together a dozen consecutive games with 200-plus yards and has 4,794 career yards in the past two seasons as a starter. He is the latest winner of the Mission Health Spotlight Performance of the Week Award. Ferguson’s receiving corps is a steadfast group, headed up by C.J. Thompson (57 receptions for 632 yards and nine touchdowns), Chase Austin (49 receptions for 743 yards and three touchdowns) and Kealin Goode (46 receptions for 436 yards and three touchdowns). Rushing-wise, Erwin depends on Isaiah Poore (470 yards, five touchdowns), Quentin Smith (273 yards, two touchdowns) and Ferguson (253 yards, three touchdowns). As far as defense goes, Cameron Connors (9.9 tackles per game), Rayonte Mills (8.1), Lucas Towles (7.3), Trey Martin (6.1) and Thompson (6.1) are noteworthy. That unit’s biggest concern Friday will be a North Buncombe passing game that features Chase Parker (1,277 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions), Ricky Thrash (44 receptions for 429 yards) and Blake Mathews (22 receptions for 668 yards and nine touchdowns). Colby Maltry (517 yards, five touchdowns) and Nick Lisenbee (374 yards, five touchdowns) are the primary rushers and leading tacklers are Logan Anderson (7.8 a game), Peter Simonovich (6.9), Sammy MacDonald (5.8) and Dmitryi Simonovich (5.1). Erwin leads this all-time series, 31-22-1.

Pick: Erwin by 1.

MCDOWELL (3-6, 0-4) at REYNOLDS (7-1, 3-0)

Last week: McDowell lost to Asheville, 54-7; Reynolds beat Enka, 64-3.

Last year: Reynolds beat McDowell, 72-41.

Notes: Five touchdowns in one game? Just another day at the office for Rico Dowdle (1,567 rushing yards, 791 passing yards). The Reynolds senior now has 38 combined touchdowns (31 rushing, seven passing) and remains on track to challenge the WNC single-season record for touchdown responsibility (55) set by former Erwin quarterback Garrett Brown in 2010. As of Tuesday night, N.C. State has joined fellow ACC programs Boston College and Wake Forest in offering Dowdle a scholarship. Someone has to be there to catch Dowdle’s passes and those players for the Rockets have been Keyal Talbert (19 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns), who is currently out with an injury, along with A.J. Logan (785 rushing yards, 176 receiving yards and eight combined touchdowns) and Eunique Waters (14 receptions for 129 yards and three touchdowns) who are both healthy at the moment. Aundreas Hill (12.1 tackles per game) is only three stops away from the 100-mark for the season. Other stalwarts on that side of the ball for the Rockets are Najae Buchanan (8.9), Deshawn Finley (7.1), Austin McCurry (6.5), Noah Eberhardt (6.1), Talon James (5.6) and Malik Long (5.5). Reynolds hasn’t lost to McDowell since 1995 and leads the all-time series, 17-3. Titans senior Casey Ray increased his school career records for passing yardage (4,117) and passing touchdowns (33) last Friday with a fourth-quarter strike to Andruw Randolph. Tackling leaders for McDowell are Devon Patton (6.0), Chase Campbell (6.0), Kaali Tobe (5.6), Isaiah Smith (5.2), Damon McNeely (5.1) and Adam Randolph (4.8).

Pick: Reynolds by 21.

WNC Athletic 2-A/3-A

SMOKY MOUNTAIN (4-4, 2-2) at BREVARD (2-6, 0-4)

Last week: Smoky Mountain beat East Henderson, 28-0; Brevard lost to West Henderson, 12-7.

Last year: Smoky Mountain beat Brevard, 48-14.

Notes: Are there more than one of you? Smoky Mountain opponents must be wondering with senior Carlos Pantoja’s ability to cover a football field. Pantoja is averaging a Western North Carolina-best 12.6 tackles per game and cracked the 100-mark for the season last Friday. As a team, the Mustangs have now recorded two shutout wins in one season (East Henderson and Swain County) for the first time since 1997. Other leading tacklers are Jace Milkey (6.2 tackles per game) and Jacob Gass (5.5). Milkey and Matthew Ridley (422 yards, four touchdowns) ran for a pair of touchdowns apiece last Friday and the team rolled up 385 rushing yards. Carson Shuler (523 yards, four touchdowns) enjoyed his third 100-yard game of the season with handoffs coming from Chase Fisher (465 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions). Brevard got its only touchdown a week ago from Tanner Pettit, who leads the Blue Devils in rushing (677 yards, seven touchdowns), receiving and tackles (12.5 per game). Pettit (23 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns), Nick Cabe (24 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns and Hamilton Lopez (17 receptions for 201 yards and one touchdown) are a formidable receiving trio for Tanner Ellenberger (1,082 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions). Other key tacklers for Brevard are Kyle Williams (11.1 tackles a game), Earon Wilkes (9.5) and Lopez (6.4).

Pick: Smoky Mountain by 14.

FRANKLIN (6-2, 4-0) at EAST HENDERSON (1-7, 1-3)

Last week: Franklin beat North Henderson, 28-12; East Henderson lost to Smoky Mountain, 28-0.

Last year: Franklin beat East Henderson, 44-6.

Notes: Where is the dividing line in WNC Athletic Conference football? Somewhere between Franklin and everybody else. The Panthers and Kelton Lowry (982 yards, 14 touchdowns) have now won 20 straight conference games dating back to 2012. Lowry is one good carry away from his first 1,000-yard season. Jackson Perone (621 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions), Hunter Gibbs (497 yards, two touchdowns) and Jordin Nugent (16 receptions for 238 yards and two touchdowns) are other big threats. Gibbs sets the pace in tackles with 11.9 a night, followed by Dillon Daves (6.5), Lowry (6.1), Clayton Phillips (5.9), Kendrick Bryson (5.3) and Blake Raymond (4.8). East Henderson will look to counter with offensive players like Trace Goldsmith (661 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions), Cole Revis (295 yards, two touchdowns), Nick Lyons (251 rushing yards, 161 receiving yards and four combined touchdowns) and Josh Glynn (21 receptions for 338 yards and four touchdowns). Tackling-wise, Revis (8.0), Lyons (6.1) and Coal Webb (5.9) have distinguished themselves.

Pick: Franklin by 21.

PISGAH (5-3, 2-2) at NORTH HENDERSON (5-3, 2-2)

Last week: Pisgah beat Tuscola, 20-17; North Henderson lost to Franklin, 28-12.

Last year: Pisgah beat North Henderson, 35-10.

Notes: Brett Chappell has put his own stamp on the Pisgah football program in three years as coach. Going 3-0 against Tuscola will do that. Black Bears senior Daniel VanVaerenbergh (1,106 yards, nine touchdowns) went over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last Friday in Waynesville. Michael Parrott (227 yards, four touchdowns) has been a good complimentary piece to the Pisgah running game which is balanced out by Houston Rogers (777 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions) and receivers such as Trey Morgan (29 receptions for 376 yards and six touchdowns) and Jesse Martinez (22 receptions for 279 yards and two touchdowns). The defense gets its strength from Jeff Albritton (5.4 tackles per game), Garrett Jones (5.0) and Isaiah Fisher (4.3). North Henderson senior Trevor Craft (950 passing yards, 738 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns), Ashton Woodring (22 receptions for 308 yards and three touchdowns), Darren Lammons (20 receptions for 386 yards and five touchdowns) and the rest of the Knights are seeking their first-ever win over Pisgah (the Black Bears have won the previous 14 meetings since 2001). North Henderson’s defense is buoyed by Cole McCarson (11.1 tackles per game), Austin Vanhoy (10.6), Brandon Johnson (7.0), Cameron Bumgarner (6.9) and Drew Mitchell (6.6).

Pick: Pisgah by 3.

TUSCOLA (5-3, 2-2) at WEST HENDERSON (6-2, 3-1)

Last week: Tuscola lost to Pisgah, 20-17; West Henderson beat Brevard, 12-7.

Last year: West Henderson beat Tuscola, 23-21.

Notes: Barnburners or blowouts, every win counts the same. Tanner Bullock (684 yards, seven touchdowns) and West Henderson have won their last two games by a combined seven points. Bullock scored the deciding touchdown with 48 seconds to go last Friday. Bullock had his second 200-yard game of the season (207, to be exact) last Friday and Brandon Whitaker (236 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions) ran for a 1-yard quarterback keeper. Peyton Frisbee (361 yards, four touchdowns), Landon Owen (206), Tyreke Dunbar (195 yards) and Josh Penland (126 yards, one touchdown) are other trustworthy rushers. Tristan Thomas has made a team-high 13 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown). The Falcons defense relies on Stephen Perron (9.6 tackles per game), Thomas (6.0), Owen (5.8), Devin Stepp (5.1) and Frisbee (4.9). Tuscola and Caleb Ferguson (884 yards, 14 touchdowns) are coming off back-to-back losses after a 5-1 start. Ferguson (16 receptions for 265 yards and one touchdown) also has 10 or more catches than any other Mountaineers receiver. Zach Webster (737 passing yards, 413 rushing yards and 12 combined touchdowns), Roman Jenkins (499 yards, six touchdowns) and Brent Turner (372 yards, three touchdowns) have been other big offensive contributors. And as far as tackles go, the leaders are Webster (10.1 tackles per game), Taylor Austin (9.3), Joe Napert (8.1), Grayson Perkins (7.1), Eli Trantham (6.5) and Jeremy Jacobs (6.4).

Pick: West Henderson by 1.

Western Highlands 1-A/2-A

AVERY COUNTY (1-7, 0-3) at MADISON (1-7, 1-2)

Last week: Avery County lost to Polk County, 43-41; Madison beat Owen, 15-14.

Last year: Avery County beat Madison, 14-0.

Notes: Even a morsel of success is better than a belly full of losing. Madison and Colby Edwards (745 yards and five touchdowns with nine interceptions) snapped an 11-game losing streak last Friday. Edwards and Derek Gonzalez (492 yards, three touchdowns) both ran for touchdowns in the one-point win at Owen. Edwards’ receiving corps includes Austin Payne (19 receptions for 305 yards and two touchdowns), Dawson Coates (15 receptions for 332 yards and three touchdowns) and Travis Hollifield (10 receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown). Wesley Barnett (12.1 tackles per game) is the top tackler in the Western Highlands Conference, followed by Keagan Foley (6.5), Logan Roberts (5.1), Mason Edwards (5.0) and Dakota Surrett (4.9), Coates (4.8) and Brent Turner (4.8). Avery County senior Luke Crowe (1,107 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions) went over the 1,000-yard mark last Friday. Crowe also leads the Vikings in rushing (385 yards, four touchdowns) along with Christian Hicks (280 yards, three touchdowns) and Cameron Smith (201 yards, four touchdowns). Top receivers are Chandler Stansberry (28 receptions for 297 yards and two touchdowns), Brett Smith (22 receptions for 349 yards and five touchdowns) and Brent Hammer (18 receptions for 180 yards and one touchdown). And defensive leaders are Ryan Sheppard (8.0 tackles per game), Steven Sanchez (6.0), Stansberry (5.6), Jonathan Guerra (5.0) and Ethan Johnson (4.3).

Pick: Avery County by 7.

MITCHELL (8-0, 3-0) at MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (6-2, 2-1)

Last week: Mitchell beat Hendersonville, 56-40; Mountain Heritage did not play.

Last year: Mitchell beat Mountain Heritage, 26-22.

Notes: Mountain Heritage has already won in a sense. E.L. Briggs Stadium, or “The Pit” as it’s affectionately referred to by the Cougars, should be packed out Friday with of the largest home football crowds in recent memory. Big bucks for the athletic department look like a given, but Mountain Heritage and Trey Robinson (1,329 rushing yards, 454 passing yards and 24 combined touchdowns) would love nothing more than to dethrone undefeated Mitchell as well. Whoever wins in Burnsville takes a huge step towards a potential Western Highlands Conference championship. Mountain Heritage hasn’t played since a 50-3 thrashing of Owen on Oct. 9. Along with Robinson, other offensive playmakers for the team are Dathan Robinson (458 yards, three touchdowns), Britt Burleson (272 yards, four touchdowns) and Cole Burleson (14 receptions for 176 yards and four touchdowns). Adam Shuford (11.1 tackles per game), Levi Robinson (10.9), Cory Presnell (9.1), Tyler Brown (6.4), Isaac Allen (5.9) and Nathan Higgins (5.1) have shored up the defense. Mitchell leads this all-time series, 29-15, is sixth in this week’s Associated Press rankings for NCHSAA 1-A and remains WNC’s only undefeated football team. Mountaineers sophomore Ben Young (1,277 passing yards, 299 rushing yards and 20 combined touchdowns) was a part of a half-dozen scores (four rushing, two passing) in last Friday’s wild home game with Hendersonville. Young and Mitchell average 297.4 rushing yards a game with a lot of heavy lifting done by Dalton Beaver (607 yards, eight touchdowns), Peyton Greene (314 yards, five touchdowns) and Braxton Tehandon (213 yards, six touchdowns). Trey Carson (34 receptions for 576 yards) caught his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the season last Friday. Mitchell’s defense is fronted by Beaver (10.3 tackles per game), Will Atkins (7.9), Jacob Yelton (6.4) and Alex McKinney (5.3).

Pick: Mitchell by 1.

Smoky Mountain 1-A

CHEROKEE (3-5, 0-3) at ANDREWS (3-6, 0-4)

Last week: Cherokee lost to Rosman, 21-0; Andrews lost to Swain County, 49-19.

Last year: Cherokee beat Andrews, 41-19.

Notes: Cherokee sophomore Tye Mintz still has two more years to accomplish some things for the first time. Becoming a 1,000-yard passer at the varsity level can now be officially checked off that list. Mintz (1,080 passing yards, 595 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns) became the youngest quarterback in the Smoky Mountain Conference to hit the benchmark last week. Receivers who have been responsible for helping him get there are Jason McMillan (30 receptions for 430 yards and seven touchdowns), Darius Blanton (20 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns), Holden Straughn (19 receptions for 204 yards) and Isaiah Evans (17 receptions for 164 yards. Seniors Kennan Panther (12.3 tackles per game) and Logan Teesateskie (11.5) are double-digit tacklers, followed by Will Davis (7.4), Dodge Crowe-Moss (6.6), Mintz (5.8) and Anthony Toineeta (5.0). Andrews junior Taylor Parker (875 rushing yards, 534 passing yards and 13 combined touchdowns) is the top producer for the Wildcats in two offensive categories. Dillan Ward (838 yards, two touchdowns) looks to be headed for a 1,000-yard season as well. And the defense depends on Grayson Parker (9.3), Ward (8.9), Drew Pyle (7.4), Derek Bateman (6.1), Willie Parker (6.0) and Parker (4.8).

Pick: Andrews by 1.

HAYESVILLE (3-4, 0-3) at MURPHY (6-2, 2-1)

Last week: Hayesville lost to Robbinsville, 49-14; Murphy did not play.

Last year: Murphy beat Hayesville, 49-13.

Notes: Breaks, pulls, sprains, strains, tears and every other possible malady have been a way of life for Hayesville since its first 3-0 start to a football season since 2001. The Yellow Jackets have dealt with seemingly one injury after another during a four-game losing streak. The good news is that senior Jacob Matheson (8.3 tackles per game) played his first game since Sept. 11 last Friday and made five tackles. Kyle Rhinehardt (758 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions) completed his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the season to Braxton Cox (15 receptions for 353 yards and seven touchdowns). Hayesville’s defense is bolstered by Logan Cowart (7.4), Owen Gibson (7.1), Chayton McClure (5.8) and Colton Thomas (5.6). Murphy and Kadrian McRae (992 yards, 11 touchdowns) haven’t played since a 14-7 win at Andrews on Oct. 9. The Bulldogs have used two quarterbacks in recent games – senior Dalton Kent (927 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions) and sophomore Joey Curry (333 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions). Their favorite receivers have been Anthony Conners (32 receptions for 475 yards and seven touchdowns), Bryce Clapsaddle (20 receptions for 278 yards) and Matthew Lovingood (15 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns). Ozzy Corrales (12.4 tackles per game), Alex Seabolt (11.6), Cory Farmer (9.3), Storm Worley (8.8), Adam Powell (8.6), Shannon Wilson (8.1) and Cody Cantrell (7.6) have provided the most tackles for the defense.

Pick: Murphy by 10.

SWAIN COUNTY (5-3, 3-0) at ROSMAN (6-2, 3-1)

Last week: Swain County beat Andrews, 49-19; Rosman beat Cherokee, 21-0.

Last year: Swain County beat Rosman, 56-36.

Notes: Ready or not, the SMC is about to get a lot more interesting for Swain County and Ross Ensley (9.3 tackles per game). The Maroon Devils’ remaining games in the league are this one, Murphy (Oct. 30) and Robbinsville (Nov. 6). Brody Sitton (496 yards, eight touchdowns) had half of those scores last Friday. Trent Wright (438 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions) has distributed the ball to receivers such as Jordan Cody (15 receptions for 166 yards) and Angel Bowers (nine receptions for 121 yards and one touchdown). Along with Ensley, the most active defenders for the Maroon Devils have been Issiah Bradley (6.1 tackles per game), Caleb Woodard (4.3) and Jordan Cody (4.0). Rosman hasn’t beaten Swain County since 1998, and will be looking to reverse that trend with the rushing of Gage Orr (1,060 yards, five touchdowns) and Tanner Green (659 yards, seven touchdowns). The Tigers defense relies on Jacob Hall (8.1 tackles per game), Tyler Petit (6.4), David Burrell (5.3), Andres Villagomez (4.9), Colton Holbrook (4.5) and Ethan Shook (4.4).

Pick: Swain County by 1.



Last week: Asheville School lost to Cannon School, 31-7; First Assembly beat Victory Christian, 41-6.

Last year: The two teams did not play.

Notes: What a bewitching day to renew WNC’s oldest football rivalry eh? Eight days are all that’s left before a Halloween afternoon matchup between Asheville School and Christ School. For the second consecutive year, the Blues will have a 1,000-yard quarterback in David Schill (1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions) in the fold. Schill ranks second in rushing (387, six touchdowns) to Rashad Morrison (662 yards, eight touchdowns), who had the team’s only touchdown a week ago at Cannon School. Ahmad Galimore (30 receptions for 442 yards and five touchdowns) is only a sophomore and joined in the Blues receiving corps by Chris Amoroso (15 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns) and Schill’s younger brother, sophomore J.P. Schill (15 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown). Defensive stalwarts are David Schill (9.6 tackles per game), J.P. Schill (8.1), Amoroso (7.7), Fisher Howard (6.9), Eric Rhoton (6.2) and Titus Morrison (6.1). Concord First Assembly lost 46-34 at Christ School on Oct. 9.

Pick: First Assembly by 3.


Last week: Hickory Grove lost to Mountain Island Charter, 48-14; Christ School beat Rabun Gap (Ga.), 21-16.

Last year: Christ School beat Hickory Grove, 28-0.

Notes: When a 6-2 team is bringing up the rear, you know it’s been a good football season at Christ School. The Greenies have WNC’s only undefeated team in boys soccer (outside of America, the sport is commonly referred to as football) with a 13-0-4 record. And fifth-year coach Mark Moroz and his boys are getting it done on the gridiron as well. Drew Johnson (1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions) added 155 yards to his yearly total a week ago. Christ School has rattled off three consecutive wins with the junior tossing his throws to Kokayi Cobb (22 receptions for 267 yards one touchdown), Jared Letman-Gash (17 receptions for 556 yards and eight touchdowns), Tyler Redmond (15 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns) and Keyvaun Cobb (14 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown). Kokayi Cobb (514 yards, five touchdowns) has paced the team in rushing while the defense is fortified by Charlie Claffey (8.0 tackles per game), Redmond (7.1), Carson Jones (7.0) and Keyvaun Cobb (5.0). Hickory Grove and Skylar Mayer (744 yards, nine touchdowns) beat Asheville School, 22-20, back on Sept. 11.

Pick: Christ School by 10.

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