Kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.
ERWIN (5-0, 1-0) at ENKA (1-5, 1-0)
Last week: Erwin beat Reynolds, 69-28; Enka beat North Buncombe, 35-14.
Last year: Erwin beat Enka, 48-21.
Notes: Eureka, Erwin. Lots of mouths were left agape by the 62-point first half engineered by Austin Brown (1,463 yards and 15 touchdowns with three interceptions), Kelman Simpson (595 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Jonathan Allen (32 receptions for 508 yards and six touchdowns) last Friday. Fellow senior Jordan Tigar (18 receptions for 341 yards and three touchdowns) had a season-high 151 receiving yards, and an Erwin defense that relies heavily on Dakota Wright (53 tackles), Tigar (40), Mitchell Chancey (36) and DeAngelo Collington (33), held Reynolds to 14 points through the first three quarters. Meanwhile, Enka became the final MAC team to win a game behind three touchdowns from Tommy Holloway, including a 83-yard punt return. The Jets have used three quarterbacks this season, including senior Shadow Christenson, who rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns last Friday. Overall, Erwin leads this western Buncombe County series, 27-23, and has won five of the last six meetings. Both coaches are Enka graduates — Erwin’s Mike Sexton got his diploma in 1985, 11 years before Jets coach Jeff Frady.
Pick: Erwin by 21.
N. BUNCOMBE (2-4, 0-1) at MCDOWELL (2-4, 0-1)
Last week: North Buncombe lost to Enka, 35-13; McDowell lost to Roberson, 49-28.
Last year: McDowell beat North Buncombe, 42-0.
Notes: Giving it his all? Caleb Gwaltney could not contribute much more to his football team. The North Buncombe senior has 19 more tackles (53) than any other Black Hawks defender and ranks second in rushing yardage (229) with a team-high three touchdowns across the ground. Sophomore quarterback Chase Parker (548 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions) threw a pair of touchdowns a week ago to leading receiver Austin Sheperd (15 receptions for 325 yards and five touchdowns). Dylan Fox (363 yards, two touchdowns) and the Black Hawks have won both their games on the road and will hope to keep that mojo in Marion. McDowell scored 22 points in its first three games but has gotten rolling since Casey Ray (642 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions) took over the offense. The quarterback Ray replaced is his top receiver — Dallas Myers (19 receptions for 282 yards and three touchdowns). D.J. Martin, Legend Pressley and Nick Robinson have all made 29 tackles for the Titans defense.
Pick: McDowell by 7.
TUSCOLA (4-1, 1-0) at BREVARD (2-3, 0-1)
Last week: Tuscola beat Smoky Mountain, 38-12; Brevard lost to Franklin, 33-14.
Last year: Tuscola beat Brevard, 42-13.
Notes: Imagine what the scene will be like two weeks from now for a Pisgah-Tuscola game if both stay on their present courses? Each of the Haywood County teams is off to their best start in at least four years. The Mountaineers have already improved on last year’s 3-8 season with an offense powered by Bryce Myers (705 yards, eight touchdowns) and Woody Cornwell (468 yards and five touchdowns), who has yet to throw an interception. Cornwell’s favorite receiver has been Adam Chambers (11 receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns). The defense relies largely on the work of Houston McCracken (36 tackles), Ben Greene (33) and Jon Martinez (33). Both of Brevard’s wins have come on the road, meaning the Blue Devils will be bidding for their first home triumph since 2011 tonight. Anthony Benjamin has been responsible for four of the 11 touchdowns scored by the Transylvania County team the past two weeks.
Pick: Tuscola by 7.
PISGAH (4-1, 1-0) at FRANKLIN (5-0, 1-0)
Last week: Pisgah beat East Henderson, 42-14; Franklin beat Brevard, 33-14.
Last year: Franklin beat Pisgah, 21-14.
Notes: Technically, tonight is not a winner-take-all game for the WNCAC championship. It just might feel like it, though. A standing-room only crowd is expected to fill the Panther Pit to watch Jeremiah Young (902 yards, 13 touchdowns), Luke Keener (653 yards and five touchdowns with one interception) and Franklin try to protect their status as the 2-A/3-A league’s preseason favorite. The Panthers are No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press 2-A poll and ranked second among NCHSAA 2-A teams by NCPreps.com. The defense of Young (6.5 tackles a game), Dalton Cochran (5.2), Seth Pruitt (4.3) and Khaleb Scott (4.2) will try to limit a Pisgah team off to its best start since 2009 under first-year coach Brett Chappell. McKinley Brown (980 yards and 13 touchdowns with five interceptions) threw four touchdowns last Friday, three of which ended up in the hands of Jesse Anderson (23 receptions for 322 yards and six touchdowns). Leading tackler Vadrey Couch (44) also rushed for 115 yards last Friday. Franklin has won four of the last five games in this series.
Pick: Franklin by 1.
E. HENDERSON (0-5, 0-1) at NORTH HENDERSON (2-3, 1-0)
Last week: East Henderson lost to Pisgah, 42-14; North Henderson beat West Henderson, 34-7.
Last year: East Henderson beat North Henderson, 63-6.
Notes: Face it, Cory Foster has receiving skills that will fit any North Henderson quarterback. The 6-foot-3, 188-pound senior has run routes for three quarterbacks, including current starter Trevor Craft (675 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions) and still manages to lead WNC in receiving with 38 catches for 716 yards and eight touchdowns. Craft has also made good use of the hands belonging to Dalton Whitaker (20 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns) and Tyler Sargent (14 receptions for 157 yards and one touchdown), while Caleb Rogers (260 yards, two touchdowns) and Tucker Garren (232 yards, four touchdowns) have kept defenses honest with their rushing abilities. Garren is also the team’s No. 1 tackler (38), followed by Garrett Moore (28). East Henderson had just 76 yards of offense last Friday.
Pick: North Henderson by 21.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (2-3, 0-1) at WEST HENDERSON (0-5, 0-1)
Last week: Smoky Mountain lost to Tuscola, 38-12; West Henderson lost to North Henderson, 34-7.
Last year: Smoky Mountain beat West Henderson, 21-20.
Notes: West Henderson’s offense needs to get Goings. Brendan Goings (353 yards, three touchdowns) has been the most productive member of the team’s triple-option attack, followed by fellow juniors Alex Ball (281 yards two touchdowns) and William Crouch (255 yards and one touchdown with five interceptions). But the young Falcons, who have only seven seniors, are coming off their worst performance, points-wise, of the season. That puts even more pressure on defenders like Casone Ward (53.5 tackles) and Jonathan Perrone (42.5) Likewise, after scoring 98 points in its first three games, Smoky Mountain has just 26 in the past two. Chase Morgan (758, six touchdowns) is closing in on another 1,000-yard season, and Zeb Speir (717 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions) is nearing his first as a quarterback.
Pick: Smoky Mountain by 7.
HENDERSONVILLE (2-4, 0-1) at MADISON (3-2, 0-1)
Last week: Hendersonville lost to Mountain Heritage, 36-21; Madison lost to Polk County, 21-7.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Madison, 44-21.
Notes: What a difference a year makes in the WHC. The two front-running teams in 2012 lost their league openers last Friday. Two-time defending champion Hendersonville has dropped three consecutive games for the first time since 2007, even with Lucas Brovet leading WNC in tackles (17.2 per game). Cole Cleary (736 rushing yards, 733 passing yard and 14 combined touchdowns) and Terrold Gary (286 yards, one touchdown) will try to get the Bearcats back on track in Marshall. Tyler Hoffman (885 yards, 11 touchdowns) is averaging a workmanlike 26.2 carries a game for the Madison offense, while the Patriots are led on the other side of the ball by Daniel Nash (57 tackles), Derrick English (56) and Dylan Hilemon (55). Madison has won 11 straight games at home, a streak that started in 2011.
Pick: Madison by 1.
POLK COUNTY (3-3, 1-0) at MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (4-2, 1-0)
Last week: Polk County beat Madison, 21-7; Mountain Heritage beat Hendersonville, 26-21.
Last year: Polk County beat Mountain Heritage, 41-20.
Notes: Look at them now. Mountain Heritage and Trevor Robinson (862 passing yards, 742 rushing yards and 23 combined touchdowns) are the proud owners of a four-game winning streak after starting out 0-2. Robinson’s dual-threat ability has been accentuated by fellow Cougars such as Dalton Robinson (589 yards, five touchdowns) and Jake McClellan (22 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns). Colby Presnell (54) is the team’s top tackler. Polk County and Reece Schlabach (921 passing yards, 411 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns) were 0-3 before their three-game winning streak. Schlabach’s passing numbers continue to be aided greatly by fellow senior Anthony Carson (33 receptions for 501 yards and four touchdowns) and junior Jordan Smith (11 receptions for 266 yards and one touchdown).
Pick: Polk County by 1.
MITCHELL (1-4, 0-0) at OWEN (4-1, 1-0)
Last week: Mitchell did not play; Owen beat Avery County, 36-27.
Last year: Owen beat Mitchell, 49-0.
Notes: It’s official. The NCHSAA certified last Friday’s 459-yard performance from Owen junior Jager Gardner (1,162 yards, 14 touchdowns) as a WNC single-game record. Murphy’s Willie Brown (457 yards) had owned the mark since 1974. Gardner also took over the area lead in rushing with his five-touchdown performance, and the former All-WHC running back now has 2,714 yards in the past two seasons. Gardner’s offensive line consists of Quentin Carver, Grant Dickerson, Taylor Earley, Mason Eades and Seth Penley. And that group also clears the way for Sam Drummond (590 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions) and Zee Johnston (403 yards, four touchdowns). The Warhorses defense is a unit led by Cade Fox (49 tackles), Tucker Lowery (40) and Austin Bennett (37). Their primary concerns tonight will be slowing Mitchell’s Dalton Beaver (300 yards, three touchdowns) and Cy Thomas (244 yards, two touchdowns). Beaver (45 tackles) and Michael Thomas (41) power the Mountaineers defense.
Pick: Owen by 21.
MURPHY (4-2, 1-0) AT CHEROKEE (0-6, 0-1)
Last week: Murphy beat Rosman, 49-20; Cherokee lost to Hayesville, 46-6.
Last year: Murphy beat Cherokee, 47-0.
Notes: Could it be an omen for Cherokee and first-year coach Kiah Smith? For three consecutive weeks, the team with the longest active losing streak in WNC (North Buncombe, Andrews and then Enka) has won. Kennan Panther (84 tackles) and the Braves will be looking for a similar breakthrough to cease an eight-game skid. It won’t be easy for Cherokee offensive standouts like Tyler Brown (293 rushing yards) and Jason McMillan (192 yards and two touchdowns with seven interceptions) against the hottest team in the SMC. Murphy’s combination of Deion Johnson (598 yards, seven touchdowns) and Kenton Braswell (490 yards, nine touchdowns) has allowed the Bulldogs to win a league-best four consecutive games after a woeful 0-2 start in which Murphy was outscored, 91-23. Johnson and Braswell get their handoffs from first-year quarterback Dalton Kent (613 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions).
Pick: Murphy by 21.
ANDREWS (1-4, 0-0) at ROBBINSVILLE (4-1, 0-1)
Last week: Andrews did not play; Robbinsville lost to Swain County, 27-21.
Last year: Robbinsville beat Andrews, 63-6.
Notes: Overtime losses are a heartbreaker like no other. Especially at home and with all that was at stake for Robbinsville and Cruz Galaviz (789 yards, 13 touchdowns) a week ago versus Swain County. Galaviz hauled in the only touchdown pass from Dakota Crisp (763 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions) last Friday. Defensive leaders for the Black Knights continue to be Skyler Matheson (62 tackles), Brandon Lee (59), Galaviz (54) and Creed Lovin (53). Andrews and Colin Gillespie (469 yards, five touchdowns) have not been in action since shaking an 11-game losing streak on Sept. 20 with a 33-20 win over Copper Basin (Tenn.). Gillespie rushed for 128 yards in that game and scored all three of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His quarterback, Jacob Moore (439 yards and four touchdowns with seven interceptions) ranks second in team rushing with 215 yards and four touchdowns. Top tacklers for the Wildcats have been Dylan McCubbin (37), Jacob Whitaker (36) and Bristol Brockwell (31).
Pick: Robbinsville by 14.
HAYESVILLE (3-3, 1-0) at ROSMAN (2-4, 0-1)
Last week: Hayesville beat Cherokee, 46-6; Rosman lost to Murphy, 49-20.
Last year: Hayesville beat Rosman, 10-7.
Notes: Few WNC offenses have committed as much to the pass as Hayesville — quarterbacks Isaac Mills (605 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions) and Bryce Clapsaddle (210 yards and two touchdowns with one interception) have directed the majority of their passes to Tyler Leek (26 receptions for 288 yards and two touchdowns). The Yellow Jackets only have one rusher with 100 or more yards — Caleb Nuckolls (145 yards, three touchdowns). Rosman adheres to a run-oriented philosophy, as evidenced by the work of Austin Anders (562 yards, six touchdowns), Tanner Green (471 yards, six touchdowns), Josh Rice (275 yards, five touchdowns) and Landon Shipman (216 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers have just 78 passing yards in six games. Green has made a team-high 37 tackles, followed by Stetson Cauble (31), Trey Brown (23) and Jacob Hall (21).
Pick: Rosman by 1.
ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (0-4) at RABUN GAP (3-3), 4:30 p.m.
Last week: Asheville School lost to Charlotte Latin, 54-14; Rabun Gap lost to Thomas Jefferson, 35-13.
Last year: Asheville School beat Rabun Gap, 47-38.
Notes: Life as a winless football team in Buncombe County is getting lonely for Asheville School. The Blues and the duo of Jay Evans (521 yards, three touchdowns) and Naeem Swinton (361 yards, one touchdown) will try to become the final Buncombe school, public or private, to win a football game this afternoon in Georgia. Parents’ weekend at Rabun Gap (Ga.) holds special significance for one family who formerly resided in Asheville. Eagles sophomore quarterback Dallas Earnhardt has passed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception for his father, Dale, who compiled a 33-37 record as Asheville School’s coach before resigning in 2007.
Pick: Rabun Gap by 3.