Zee Johnston has observed how the crowds are getting larger at Owen football games this season.
“A lot more people are coming out to support us. It’s a good feeling,” he said.
Johnston and the Warhorses (8-1, 5-0) probably haven’t seen anything like the mass of people that will pour into the Swannanoa Valley next week for their regular-season finale against Polk County (6-3, 4-0).
Owen is only a win away from a Western Highlands Conference title after blowing past two-time defending champion Hendersonville, 31-14, on the road Friday.
Jager Gardner rumbled for 177 yards and a touchdown, while fellow junior Sam Drummond completed five of his 10 passes for 143 yards.
Johnston caught one of Drummond’s two touchdown passes (a 29-yarder) and Austin Bennett had the other one (40 yards). Bennett also rushed for an 11-yard touchdown with 3:38 remaining. Aaron Steinel booted a career-best 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter as well.
“It was a good game and a big step for us,” Warhorses coach Kenny Ford said.
“We had some chances where we probably could have put it away, but we didn’t. But being able to get to next week and give ourselves this chance is what we wanted.”
Owen’s last conference football championship came in 2006.
Polk County was idle Friday night, but has won six consecutive games since a 0-3 start. Wolverines senior Reece Schlabach (1,420 passing yards, 691 rushing yards and 27 combined touchdowns) is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the mountains.
“(Friday) is going to be real big for all of us,” Johnston said.
“We’ve got to come out ready to play from the start and not let up.”
Pisgah QB goes over 2,000 yards
Pisgah senior McKinley Brown couldn’t have been much hotter on the coldest game night of the season so far.
Brown passed for a career-high 414 yards and set a school record for total offense (469 yards) in a 35-6 road win at North Henderson.
He was 27-for-35 in pass attempts and completed his only touchdown throw (19 yards) to Trevor Johnson in the third quarter. In the process, Brown (2,004 yards) became a 2,000-yard passer for the first time. He also ran for 23 yards and made a 32-yard reception.
Leading receivers for the Black Bears (7-2, 4-1) were Jesse Anderson (13 receptions for 223 yards) and Hunter Wike (seven receptions for 114 yards).
Lucas Hall (11 yards) and Dylan Hannah (3) had touchdown runs. Nathan Higdon hit field goals from 17 and 32 yards.
Two more records for Hoffman
Two weeks, three school rushing records.
It’s all in a couple Friday nights’ work for Madison senior Tyler Hoffman.
Hoffman set career (4,429 yards) and single-season marks (1,855) by carrying the ball 32 times for 210 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s 28-7 home win over Avery County.
Both marks were 28-years old and belonged to 1986 Patriots graduate Robert West. Hoffman established a single-game school record with last week’s 334-yard performance at Owen.
Friday was the first Western Highlands Conference victory for Madison (5-4, 1-3), which trailed 7-0 after the first quarter.
Daniel Nash rushed for a pair of short touchdowns (3 and 8 yards) and Mason Edwards capped things off by scampering 7 yards for a touchdown with 1:46 remaining in Marshall.
ACA girls repeat
With an eighth-grader leading the charge, the Asheville Christian Academy girls won their second consecutive NCISAA 2-A cross country championship Friday in Greensboro.
The scoring runners for the Lions (94 points) at Hagan Stone Park were Lindsey Banks (12th place, 20:46.16), followed by Lauren Douglas (18th, 21:15.65), Julia Williams (19th, 21:20.05), Brittainy Crisp (24th, 22:02.41) and Emma Cochrane (27th, 22:05.46).
Julianne Vanderwaak (32nd, 22:22.49) and Katie Hankley (82nd, 24:18.16) also raced.
ACA’s coach is Don McMahill.
Fayetteville Academy (129 points) came in a distant second to the Lions on Friday.