Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30.
POLK COUNTY (0-1) at ASHEVILLE (1-0)
Last week: Polk County lost to Shelby, 38-21; Asheville beat Hendersonville, 28-14.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Why deviate if it works? Asheville High’s play-calling was not very adventurous a week ago — the Cougars attempted only four passes and completed none. Instead of airing it out, backs like Cameron Ray (140 yards, three touchdowns), Jermaine Battle (57 yards, one touchdown) and Travis Lytle (30 yards) kept their legs churning for first downs. Asheville has won 16 of its last 17 home games and was 5-0 in 2012. The Cougars and Polk County have not met since 1995 (a 41-6 win by Asheville). The Wolverines and Reece Schlabach (148 passing yards, 75 rushing yards and three combined touchdowns) actually led Shelby, 14-10, at halftime a week ago, which turned out to be the Wolverines’ first season-opening loss in 11 years. Former All-Western Highlands Conference receiver Anthony Carson was responsible for 102 of Schlabach’s passing yards.
Pick: Asheville by 7.
NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-1) at MADISON (1-0)
Last week: North Buncombe lost to Pisgah, 44-0; Madison beat West Henderson, 33-21.
Last year: Madison beat North Buncombe, 31-0.
Notes: Glug, glug, glug. Madison has taken more than a sip from the Juice Jug. The Patriots and Tyler Hoffman have kept possession of the namesake in their rivalry with North Buncombe for three straight years by a combined score of 76-24. Hoffman rushed for three touchdowns (4, 7 and 26 yards) last Friday. Patriots quarterback Tyler Rogers is a former 1,000-yard passer who played sports each of the past two school years at North Buncombe (baseball in 2012-13 and basketball in 2011-12) before transferring back to Madison. North Buncombe is looking for someone to rev up its offense after managing just six points in its last four games. Dylan Fox rushed for a team-high 46 yards last Friday.
Pick: Madison by 21.
ERWIN (1-0) at MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (0-1)
Last week: Erwin beat East Rutherford, 47-28; Mountain Heritage lost to Patton, 41-34.
Last year: Erwin beat Mountain Heritage, 41-19.
Notes: No need to squint, the bulls-eye keeps getting bigger. Austin Brown and Erwin are the Mountain Athletic Conference’s preseason favorite, and as of last week, the No. 1 team in the Citizen-Times Best of the West rankings. Brown did not disappoint in the first start of his senior year, factoring into 352 yards of total offense (265 passing, 87 rushing) for the Warriors. Brown and Kelman Simpson (173 yards) each had three rushing touchdowns. Dakota Wright (16.5 tackles), Jordan Tigar (12) and Mitchell Chancey (10.5) made 10 or more tackles. Mountain Heritage and Trevor Robinson (143 passing yards, 77 rushing yards) lost their season opener in about the most heartbreaking way possible — the Cougars gave up 14 unanswered points in the last 54 seconds, including a 98-yard interception return on the final play of the game. Dalton Robinson had put his team in a position to win with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Erwin has won seven of the last eight games in this series.
Pick: Erwin by 14.
ENKA (0-1) at PISGAH (1-0)
Last week: Enka lost to Owen, 36-20; Pisgah beat North Buncombe, 44-0.
Last year: Pisgah beat Enka, 36-16.
Notes: How much fun is a game of chess when both players know the next move? Pisgah coach Brett Chappell and Enka coach Jeff Frady were together on the staff at East Henderson for eight years before taking new jobs. Chappell’s impact in Canton has been immediate. Vadrey Crouch (6.0 tackles), Colton Shuler (6.0) and the rest of Black Bears defense posted their first shutout since 2010 last week. Former All-WNC punter Jesse Anderson returned one of the three interceptions for a touchdown. It won’t be easy to be so dominant this evening. Enka senior Tyler Pressley threw for 163 yards with touchdown passes to Zane Capps (14 yards) and Shadow Christenson (27) last Friday, and fellow senior Tommy Holloway ran for 118 yards and one touchdown. Pisgah and quarterback McKinley Brown (110 passing yards, one touchdown) have won 10 of the last 11 games in this series.
Pick: Pisgah by 10.
REYNOLDS (0-1) at SHELBY (1-0)
Last week: Reynolds lost to West Forsyth, 28-0; Shelby beat Polk County, 38-21.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Torrential rain turned West Forsyth’s field into a soupy mess last Friday. But the Reynolds offense was already stuck in neutral. The Rockets and Jave Jones (92 yards) will try to overcome their first shutout loss since 2007 with another tough nonconference game. . Penalties continue to plague the Rockets, who were flagged 12 times for 122 yards last Friday. Reynolds has finished each of the last five seasons with 100 or more penalties. Leading tacklers Andrew Long (12), Maliek Long (11) and Andrew Swicegood (10) will have to wrap up Shelby back Raekwon Washington. He rumbled for a team-high 103 yards a week ago at Polk County and 1,115 yards in 2012. Washington holds a scholarship offer from Youngstown State. The Golden Lions have won 12 of their last 13 games against WNC opponents with the exception coming in last year’s third round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs (a 28-21 loss at Madison).
Pick: Reynolds by 1.
AVERY COUNTY (0-1) at McDOWELL (1-0)
Last week: Avery County lost to Cloudland (Tenn.), 12-6; McDowell beat R-S Central, 8-7.
Last year: McDowell beat Avery County, 47-28.
Notes: Take me out to the ballgame? Scores from the season openers for Avery County and McDowell could have easily been mistaken for baseball. The Titans owe their only touchdown so far to quarterback Dallas Myers, while Caine Ingle’s 2-point conversion run with 8:06 to go was the difference last Friday in Rutherfordton. McDowell has won 11 of its last 15 games less than two years after the Titans snapped the state’s longest losing streak (31 games). As for Avery County, Heath Austin’s 24-yard interception return was the Vikings’ only points a week ago.
Pick: McDowell by 7.
MURPHY (0-1) at FRANKLIN (0-0)
Last week: Murphy lost to Darlington School (Ga.), 50-6; Franklin did not play.
Last year: Franklin beat Murphy, 42-35.
Notes: Roll out the red carpet. A road trip to WNC Athletic Conference preseason favorite Franklin and its Panther Pit is not exactly the best way or place for Murphy to convalesce after its most lopsided loss since 2006. Dalton Kent’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Deion Johnson were the only points scored by the three-time defending 1-A Western Regional champions last week at Darlington. The Bulldogs and Gaige Cox (107 rushing yards) will need much more offense tonight against the Panthers and Marquel Manning. Manning led all mountain rushers a year ago with 2,364 yards and is one of 15 returning starters for Franklin. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound senior was joined on the 2012 All-WNCAC team by free safety Zane Fox, defensive end Seth Pruitt, lineman Daniel Marr and fullback/linebacker Jeremiah Young.
Pick: Franklin by 10.
WEST HENDERSON (0-1) at HENDERSONVILLE (0-1)
Last week: West Henderson lost to Madison, 33-21; Hendersonville lost to Asheville, 28-14.
Last year: Hendersonville beat West Henderson, 35-7.
Notes: Veteran Hendersonville football coach B.J. Laughter has unabashedly put one of his best athletes at quarterback throughout his 17-year career. Cole Cleary looked right at home last Friday. The junior had 119 of his 187 rushing yards by halftime against Asheville before the Bearcats’ lack of depth caught up with them. Hendersonville has won the last seven games in this series. The Falcons were able to put up three touchdowns against Madison, and six different players carried the ball out of the flexbone offense, including quarterback Dustie Fender (40 yards, three touchdowns) and Alex Ball (50 yards). Fender also made eight tackles, which was second to only Casone Ward (12). These schools are situated just 4.5 miles apart, making them two of the closest rivals in WNC.
Pick: Hendersonville by 7.
BREVARD (0-1) at OWEN (1-0)
Last week: Brevard lost to Rosman, 40-27; Owen beat Enka, 36-20.
Last year: Owen beat Brevard, 65-6.
Notes: Restoring order at a traditional power like Owen is not going to happen overnight. But the Warhorses and Jager Gardner (191 yards, three touchdowns) can take another step by attaining the program’s first 2-0 start since 2004. Gardner was as good as advertised last Friday, and fellow junior Zee Johnston provided ample support with 106 more rushing yards and a touchdown. Sam Drummond passed for 106 yards with a touchdown throw to Tate Brown (60 yards). Owen has outscored Brevard, 130-13, in their last three meetings but had to forfeit a 27-7 win in 2011 because of an ineligible player. The Blue Devils got two touchdowns from Anthony Benjamin in last week’s loss to Rosman.
Pick: Owen by 14.
EAST HENDERSON (0-1) at ROBBINSVILLE (1-0)
Last week: East Henderson lost to Swain County, 14-0; Robbinsville beat Rabun Gap (Ga.), 60-26.
Last year: East Henderson beat Robbinsville, 63-42.
Notes: Robbinsville senior Dakota Crisp’s passes lived up to his last name a week ago. The veteran quarterback is a third-year starter and turned just 10 completions into 229 yards and four touchdowns to receivers Alex Walsh (two), Jesse Franks (one) and Coy Jordan (one). When he puts the ball in the air tonight, Crisp will need to be mindful of East Henderson senior Josh Conard, who already has two interceptions. The five WNC football coaches in their first year at new schools, including East Henderson’s Steve Whitt, were a combined 1-4 in last week’s games.
Pick: Robbinsville by 1.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (1-0) at SWAIN COUNTY (1-0)
Last week: Smoky Mountain beat Andrews, 37-6; Swain County beat East Henderson, 14-0.
Last year: Swain County beat Smoky Mountain, 48-6.
Notes: Everyone knew that newcomer Spencer McCoy would have some type of role in the Swain County offense. It’s pretty well-defined 153 yards later. The former All-Smoky Mountain linebacker led the Maroon Devils in rushing last Friday, while Taylor Oros (10 tackles) and Zack Weeks (eight) picked up the slack on defense. Raymius Smith (93 yards and one touchdown with one interception) and Swain County will be going for their 20th consecutive regular-season win tonight. Smoky Mountain junior Zeb Speir threw three of his four touchdown passes to Zechariah Carter last Friday. Speir finished with 231 yards and Chace Morgan (95 yards, one touchdowns) solidified the ground game. Zach Bryson has one of the longest field goals in WNC (40 yards) on his resume after last week.
Pick: Swain County by 7.
CHEROKEE (0-1) at MITCHELL (0-1)
Last week: Cherokee lost to Tuscola, 56-0; Mitchell lost to West Wilkes, 26-15.
Last year: Cherokee beat Mitchell, 35-6.
Notes: Bang, bang. Opportunity is knocking loudly for Mitchell and Turner Pitman (114 passing yards and a touchdown). The Mountaineers were picked to finish last in the Western Highlands Conference preseason coaches poll after a 1-10 season in 2012. But three of their next four opponents (Cherokee, Brevard North Buncombe) won a combined four games last year. Pitman threw his first touchdown of the season to Tre Carson (75 yards) a week ago, and Oscar Cruz rushed for a score. Michael Vaughn made a team-high 11 tackles, followed by Dalton Beaver and Zack Pressley (six apiece).
Pick: Mitchell by 10.
TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. (0-1) at ANDREWS (0-1)
Last week: Tellico Pains lost to Sequoyah (Tenn.), 41-0; Andrews lost to Smoky Mountain, 37-6.
Last year: The two teams did not play.
Notes: Moore of where that came from, please. Andrews’ first touchdown of a new season came via a 58-yard quarterback keeper by junior Jacob Moore. Moore is a former 1,000-yard passer, but showed his scrambling ability with 61 yards across the ground last Friday. Former 1,000-yard rusher Collin Gillespie (79) yards averaged a little more than 3 yards a carry considering he had 28 totes in Sylva. At home, Andrews has a good chance to end the Smoky Mountain Conference’s longest active losing streak (eight games).
Pick: Andrews by 3.
COPPER BASIN, Tenn. (0-1) at HAYESVILLE (1-0)
Last week: Copper Basin lost to Coalfield (Tenn.), 54-0; Hayesville beat Towns County (Ga.), 20-0.
Last year: Copper Basin beat Hayesville, 41-14.
Notes: Lightning wreaked havoc with Hayesville’s game last Friday. Yellow Jackets quarterback Isaac Mills struck pretty hard, too. The senior passed for 113 yards with a touchdown throw to Tyler Leek before the second half was canceled by stormy weather. Caleb Nuckolls and Dayrion Williams also rushed for scores. Nuckolls, Payton Long and Joe Woody share the team lead in tackles (six) after one game. Hayesville has lost three out of the last four games in this series.
Pick: Hayesville by 1.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1-0) at ROSMAN (1-0)
Last week: Thomas Jefferson beat Lee (S.C.), 51-16; Rosman beat Brevard, 40-27.
Last year: Thomas Jefferson beat Rosman, 28-27.
Notes: Crown them the kings of Transylvania County. Rosman and Tanner Garren (three rushing touchdowns) notched their first win over Transylvania rival Brevard last Friday with 33 second-half points. The Tigers and Austin Anders (two rushing touchdowns) have improved on their wins total every year since Freddie Whitman took over as coach (three in 2010, six in 2011 and seven in 2012) at his alma mater. Thomas Jefferson’s record is 7-38 since the Rutherford County program was founded in 2009.
Pick: Rosman by 7.
RABUN GAP, Ga. (0-1) at CHRIST SCHOOL (0-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: Rabun Gap lost to Robbinsville, 60-26; Christ School did not play.
Last year: Christ School beat Rabun Gap, 47-0.
Notes: Christ School’s cupboard is well-stocked a year after setting a school record for single-season wins (12). Eight different Greenies return from the 2012 All-Carolina Piedmont Conference team — Ellis Pace, Matt Seely, Marshall Ranson, Stephen Bridges, Malik Johnson, Jack Bonds, Jack Pace and Dalton Friel. Linemen Walker Lanning (Albany and Youngstown State) and Austin Cooke (UNC Pembroke) already have scholarship offers as reclassified juniors and transferred from East Henderson earlier this month. The Greenies are ranked No. 2 in the season’s first NCISAA Division II poll and 18-1 in regular-season games under third-year coach Mark Moroz.
Pick: Christ School by 21.