Most football teams in Western North Carolina turn it up a notch at home.
Asheville High turns it all the way up.
The Cougars (6-2, 3-0) are a combined 40-2 in Mountain Athletic Conference home games since 2000 and have never lost on their campus to Roberson (4-4, 2-1), which comes calling tonight.
Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Asheville and Cameron Ray (621 yards, 12 touchdowns) are one of two teams without a MAC loss as the Cougars seek their school-record ninth consecutive conference championship. They will also be home for a game that is naturally churning up its share of advance speculation — Nov. 8 against Erwin (8-0, 4-0).
First things first though. Asheville has to find a way to slow a passing attack that is as lethal as any in Roberson history.
Rams senior Reggie Pinner (2,097 yards and 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions) certainly doesn’t move or throw like a first-year starter running the spread offense. Pinner went over 2,000 yards last Friday in a 49-14 home loss to Erwin, and has favored receivers such as Marcus Jenkins (40 receptions for 643 yards and 10 touchdowns) and Zach Dollinger (35 receptions for 513 yards and eight touchdowns).
Pinner is also a threat to scramble — he leads Roberson in rushing with 103 carries for 329 yards and three touchdowns, followed by Angelo Cogburn (266 yards) and Seth Coleman (181 yards, two touchdowns).
“(Roberson) has got a good-looking team,” Cougars coach Danny Wilkins said.
“The quarterback is really solid and he’s got a lot of good receivers to go to. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and a good barometer of where we are and where we’re going. They’ve played a top-notch schedule. There won’t be a lot of surprises. They know what we want to do and we know what they want to do.”
And what is that?
While the Rams prefer to move the ball through the air, Asheville is a run-oriented offense dependent on Ray as well as Travis Lytle (373 yards, three touchdowns) and Reggie Battle (359 yards, three touchdowns).
Tevin Salters (790 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions) is averaging nearly 100 yards per game despite the fact that he only has one receiver with double-digit receptions – Jermaine Battle (10 receptions for 124 yards).
The defense gets its strength from Bryson Bradley (114 tackles), Danquiries Green (107) and Markevis Davis (78). Davis committed to Charlotte last month and remains the only WNC senior to pick a college football program.
Rams missing key pair
The top tacklers for Roberson are Dolllinger and Jacob Deaton, who have made 75 apiece. The Rams expect to be without two key contributors tonight due to knee injuries — Alex Talley (32 receptions for 438 yards and two touchdowns) and Patrick Gilliam (79 tackles).
“(Asheville) is playing hard right now and they’ve got a lot of confidence,” Rams coach Jim Beatty said.
“They played some real good teams and now they’re rolling. They’re big up front with a lot of weapons to go to. You’ve got to prepare for it all.”
Wilkins has been Asheville’s coach since the 2000 season. And he is as aware as anyone of how well the Cougars play in friendly surroundings, especially with two of their last three regular-season games at home (Asheville travels to North Buncombe next week).
“We’re excited about it,” Wilkins said.
“Hopefully, it’s something we can use to our advantage.”
Asheville leads the all-time series with Roberson, 17-5.