Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30.
ENKA (0-5) at NORTH BUNCOMBE (2-3)
Last week: Enka lost to Franklin, 46-6; North Buncombe beat Mitchell, 14-7.
Last year: Enka beat North Buncombe, 52-3.
Notes: Twice as nice. Caleb Gwaltney (47 tackles) and North Buncombe celebrated their first back-to-back wins in football since 2008 last Friday. Gwaltney (176 yards, three touchdowns) ranks second in team rushing behind Dylan Fox (275 yards, two touchdowns) and ran for the winning score with 32 seconds remaining. Chase Parker (399 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) and Co. now have a chance to become the first Black Hawks team in five years to win three consecutive games. Enka jumped out to a 6-0 lead at Franklin on Shadow Christenson’s first rushing touchdown of the season. Christenson (20 receptions, 256 yards, two touchdowns) is also the team’s top receiver, followed by Zane Capps (13 receptions, 179 yards, two touchdowns). Tommy Holloway (534 yards, two touchdowns) is averaging 106.8 yards a game. Enka and Cody Clark (62 tackles) have taken three of the last four games in this Buncombe County series, but before that, the Black Hawks had won six consecutive meetings.
Pick: North Buncombe by 3.
MCDOWELL (2-3) at ROBERSON (2-3)
Last week: McDowell lost to Owen, 50-33; Roberson lost to Shelby Crest, 44-34.
Last year: Roberson beat McDowell, 36-20.
Notes: “Head-to-head” has taken on a whole new meaning in the MAC 4-A division. The number of teams was reduced from three to these two in the last NCHSAA realignment. Roberson senior Reggie Pinner (1,426 yards, 18 touchdowns, four interceptions) has the most yards of any NCHSAA quarterback, according to the MaxPreps website. Pinner’s receiving corps is made up of Alex Talley (28 receptions, 366 yards, two touchdowns), Marcus Jenkins (24 receptions, 396 yards, six touchdowns) and Zach Dollinger (22 receptions, 360 yards, seven touchdowns). McDowell gave up a season-high 50 points last Friday, but Trey Anderson (508 yards, one touchdown), Casey Ray (469 yards, four touchdowns, three interceptions) and the rest of the offense also scored a season-high 33 against another Buncombe County school (Owen). Former starting quarterback Dallas Myers is tied with Tyler Farmer for the team lead in receptions (nine). Legend Pressley (27 tackles) has a first name that befits a player who has already forced four fumbles and shares the team lead for sacks (three) with Caine Ingle.
Pick: Roberson by 14.
FRANKLIN (4-0) at BREVARD (2-2)
Last week: Franklin beat Enka, 46-6; Brevard beat Cherokee, 51-12.
Last year: Franklin beat Brevard, 35-6.
Notes: Franklin and Jeremiah Young (734 yards, nine touchdowns) play a deliberate brand of football. The Panthers are rising in state polls in a similar fashion — they improved to No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press NCHSAA 2-A rankings and are second in NCPreps.com’s listing. Luke Keener (510 yards, four touchdowns) has thrown only one interception. Young (6.9 tackles a game) and the rest of the defense held Enka to a season-low six points a week ago in the Panther Pit. Brevard and first-year coach Jason Lippard have won back-to-back games, another sign of positivity for a program that went 0-11 in 2012. The Blue Devils got an interception return, kickoff return and 39-yard scoring run out of Anthony Benjamin in last Friday’s 39-point blowout at Cherokee. Chase Brooks and Joe Trufant also ran for touchdowns, while Collin McCracken tossed a 34-yard score to Mario Cassanova for the Blue Devils, who led 45-0 at the 10:58 mark of the third quarter.
Pick: Franklin by 17.
WEST HENDERSON (0-4) at NORTH HENDERSON (1-3)
Last week: West Henderson lost to Mountain Heritage, 47-31; North Henderson lost to Robbinsville, 29-21.
Last year: North Henderson beat West Henderson, 33-28.
Notes: Henderson County football has seen better days. The combined record of the county’s four schools (Hendersonville, East, North and West Henderson) is 3-14. The Falcons and William Crouch (218 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) tonight will try to become Henderson’s final team to win a game. Alex Ball (262 yards, two touchdowns) and Brendan Goings (257 yards, two touchdowns) have run for more than 200 yards, while Casone Ward has made a team-high 40 tackles. Give a slight pass to North Henderson and Tucker Garren (30 tackles) for their 1-3 record. Garren, Trevor Craft (396 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions) and the rest of the Knights played 4-A Roberson tough and lost by only eight points a week ago to undefeated Robbinsville. Cory Foster (29 receptions, 535 yards, three touchdowns) leads WNC in receiving for the first time this season.
Pick: North Henderson by 10.
EAST HENDERSON (0-4) at PISGAH (3-1)
Last week: East Henderson lost to Polk County, 47-17; Pisgah did not play.
Last year: East Henderson beat Pisgah, 51-33.
Notes: Brett Chappell will see lots of recognizable faces on the East Henderson sideline tonight. The results have been familiar for the former Eagles coach in his first year at Pisgah. Chappell left the Henderson County school in January after going 67-35 with four conference championships in eight years. Vadrey Couch (38 tackles) and the Black Bears defense already have their most shutouts (two) since 2010. And the passing game has clicked with McKinley Brown (795 yards, nine touchdowns, four interceptions) spreading the ball around to Jesse Anderson (17 receptions, 163 yards, three touchdowns) and Hunter Wike (14 receptions, 357 yards, six touchdowns). East Henderson is off to its first 0-4 start since 1993.
Pick: Pisgah by 21.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (2-2) at TUSCOLA (3-1)
Last week: Smoky Mountain did not play; Tuscola beat Swain County, 35-34.
Last year: Tuscola lost to Smoky Mountain, 26-21.
Notes: Veer = victory. Second-year starting quarterback Woody Cornwell (319 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) and Tuscola are off to their best start since 2008 with the option-oriented veer offense. Leading rusher Bryce Myers (511 yards, eight touchdowns) and Ben Greene (219 yards, one touchdown) were held to 21 combined rushing yards last Friday, but Myers’ 84-yard kickoff return with 4:24 to go was the winning touchdown. Tuscola’s top tacklers are Jon Martinez (33) and Houston McCracken (30). Chase Morgan (658 yards, six touchdowns) and Smoky Mountain will be looking for back-to-back wins in this Balsam Mountain rivalry for the first time in more than a decade (2001 and 2002). Morgan’s quarterback Zeb Speir (632 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions) has thrown the majority of his passes to Zechariah Carter (14 receptions, 350 yards, four touchdowns) and Jayce Wolfe (11 receptions, 193 yards).
Pick: Tuscola by 1.
OWEN (3-1) at AVERY COUNTY (2-2)
Last week: Owen beat McDowell, 50-33; Avery County did not play.
Last year: Owen beat Avery County, 21-6.
Notes: Rushing to conclusions? Owen should be a viable contender for its first conference championship since 2006 as long as Jager Gardner (703 yards, nine touchdowns) and Zee Johnston (388 yards, four touchdowns) keep getting a healthy amount of handoffs from fellow junior Sam Drummond (536 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions). Taylor Frizsell (11 receptions, 90 yards, one touchdown) is the team’s No. 1 receiver, while Austin Bennett (29 tackles) and Tucker Lowery (28) have shored up the defense. Both of Avery County’s wins (McDowell and Thomas Jefferson) have come on the road. The Vikings offense is powered by Daniel Childress (368 yards, two touchdowns) and Tre Jackson (193 rushing yards, 173 passing yards, eight combined touchdowns).
Pick: Owen by 10.
MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (3-2) at HENDERSONVILLE (2-3)
Last week: Mountain Heritage beat West Henderson, 47-31; Hendersonville lost to Christ School, 20-14.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Mountain Heritage, 70-33.
Notes: Each side of Mountain Heritage’s record tells a story. The Cougars and Trevor Robinson (751 passing yards, 597 rushing yards, 20 combined touchdowns) haven’t won three games this early since 2010. But on the flip side, the only two losses for the Cougars and Colby Presnell (50 tackles) have come to a pair of 4-0 teams (Erwin and Patton). Hendersonville quarterback Cole Cleary (694 passing yards, 591 rushing yards, 11 combined touchdowns) was held out of last week’s loss at Christ School with concussion-like symptoms. Lucas Brovet continues to lead the WHC in tackles (14.5 per game). Adam Rice (9.0), Kobey Rudisill (8.5) and Bradley Schmidt (8.0) are other defensive leaders.
Pick: Hendersonville by 3.
MADISON (3-1) at POLK COUNTY (2-3)
Last week: Madison did not play; Polk County beat East Henderson, 47-17.
Last year: Madison beat Polk County, 28-21.
Notes: Polk County and Reece Schlabach (823 passing yards, 329 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns) have righted the ship. Now are the Wolverines and Anthony Carson (29 receptionsm, 445 yards, three touchdowns) ready to set sail for their first WHC championship in three years? Schlabach, Carson, Jordan Smith (11 receptions, 266 yards, one touchdown) and the rest of the Polk County offense are coming off their best scoring output of the season and have shrugged off an 0-3 start. Schlabach (7.8 tackles a game) and the defense have the task tonight of trying to limit the top rusher in WNC — Madison senior Tyler Hoffman (753 yards, 11 touchdowns). Three Patriots are averaging 10 or more tackles a game — Derrick English (14.0), Dylan Hilemon (11.0) and Daniel Nash (10.0).
Pick: Polk County by 7.
CHEROKEE (0-5) AT HAYESVILLE (2-3)
Last week: Cherokee lost to Brevard, 51-12; Hayesville lost to Silverdale Academy (Tenn.), 6-0.
Last year: Hayesville beat Cherokee, 36-19.
Notes: Cherokee sophomore Kennan Panther has taken it to the opposition this season with an area-best 15.2 tackles per game. Last Friday, he took it to the house. Panther returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown in the Braves’ loss to Brevard. Jason McMillan (145 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions) later ran for a touchdown. Isaac Mills (605, six touchdowns, three interceptions) and the Hayesville offense have scored just seven points in three consecutive losses. The Yellow Jackets will try to shake the doldrums tonight at home with a collection of receivers that includes Tyler Leek (21 receptions, 238 yards, two touchdowns); Weston Acosta (12 receptions, 128 yards, one touchdown) and Caleb Nuckolls (12 receptions, 98 yards, one touchdown). Joe Woody (66), Nuckolls (54) and Josh Danielson (51) have 50 or more tackles.
Pick: Hayesville by 14.
ROSMAN (2-3) at MURPHY (3-2)
Last week: Rosman beat the Carolina Gladiators, 31-28; Murphy beat Fannin County (Ga.), 65-25.
Last year: Murphy beat Rosman, 55-21.
Notes: Climb aboard. Kenton Braswell isn’t afraid to put the Murphy offense on his shoulders, even if only one is healthy. Braswell (357 yards, seven touchdowns) has run for 314 yards and seven touchdowns since deciding to play out his senior year with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He ranks second in rushing to Deion Johnson (505 yards, five touchdowns). The duo complement quarterback Dalton Kent (547 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions). Bulldogs defenders Austin Satterfield (11.6 tackles a game) and Bradley Puccio (10.6) will try to corral a run-heavy Rosman offense with just 63 passing yards for the season. The Tigers’ stable of backs includes Austin Anders (506 yards, five touchdowns) and Tanner Green (434 yards, six touchdowns).
Pick: Murphy by 14.
SWAIN COUNTY (3-2) AT ROBBINSVILLE (4-0)
Last week: Swain County lost to Tuscola, 35-34; Robbinsville beat North Henderson, 29-21.
Last year: Swain County beat Robbinsville, 42-7.
Notes: For a conference opener of this magnitude, Big Oaks Stadium might not be big enough. Robbinsville continues to average the most points of any WNC offense (51.5 per game) thanks to the combination of Cruz Galaviz (699 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Dakota Crisp (706 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions). The Black Knights and Skyler Matheson (12.3 tackles a game) were No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press rankings and are 4-0 for the first time in five years. Meanwhile, two-time SMC champion Swain County and Raymius Smith (571 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions) are coming off their first back-to-back losses (Franklin and Tuscola) since 2010. Smith (4,868 career yards) is one big game away from the 5,000-yard mark. Leading rusher Spencer McCoy (605 yards, eight touchdowns) is a junior who transferred from Robbinsville over the summer. Swain County is ninth in the latest Associated Press 1-A poll and has taken the last two games in this series, but before that, was outscored 106-0 in three straight losses.
Pick: Robbinsville by 3.
CHARLOTTE LATIN (4-0) vs. ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (0-3), 5 p.m.
Last week: Charlotte Latin beat Baptist Hill (S.C.), 63-28; Asheville School lost to Thomas Jefferson, 28-7.
Last year: The two teams did not play.
Notes: Memorial Stadium was Asheville School’s home away from home on Sept. 6 (a 69-14 loss to Robbinsville). This afternoon, the Blues and their rushing combination of Jay Evans (397 yards, two touchdowns) and Naeem Swinton (272 yards, one touchdown) get to experience the real thing with their first on-campus game at Arbogast Field. Ball security has been an issue — Asheville School coach Roger Harris said earlier this week that his team has committed 13 turnovers in three games. Charlotte Latin has outscored opponents, 194-65, and longtime coach Larry McNulty has 236 career wins. Former 1,000-yard rusher Denzel Pearson ran for three touchdowns last Friday and Daniel Jones threw for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Both are juniors.
Pick: Charlotte Latin by 7.
CHRIST SCHOOL (3-1, 1-1) at FIRST ASSEMBLY CHRISTIAN (2-2, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: Christ School beat Hendersonville, 20-14; First Assembly beat High Point Christian, 57-25.
Last year: Christ School beat First Assembly, 10-0.
Notes: Looks like the new kid is fitting in. Former East Henderson standout Walker Lanning is averaging a team-high 11.0 tackles a game in his first season of NCISAA competition for Christ School. The former All-WNC Athletic Conference selection transferred over the summer and is followed in team tackles by Greenies veteran Jack Bonds (10.7), Sage Holley (7.0), Matt Seely (6.3), Forrest Yates (6.0) and Ellis Pace (6.0). Lanning is also a valued member of the offensive line that helped spring Pace (460 yards, four touchdowns) for 256 yards and two touchdowns last Friday. Stephen Bridges has connected on four of his five extra-point attempts this season, but split the uprights twice from 45 yards a week ago.
Pick: Christ School by 3.