Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30.
REYNOLDS (1-1) at OWEN (2-0)
Last week: Reynolds beat Shelby, 49-42; Owen beat Brevard, 73-6.
Last year: Reynolds beat Owen, 58-12.
Notes: Simple geography and decades of history still make Owen-Reynolds a rivalry to some extent. But some balance would be nice, too. The Rockets and Levi Ledford (321 yards and two touchdowns with one interception) have won eight straight games in this eastern Buncombe County series by an average of 27.9 points. Ledford threw for 301 yards last Friday. C.J. Allen (seven receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown) and Caelan Rhinehardt (six receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown) have emerged as his premier receivers. The passing game has been complemented by Jave Jones (237 yards, two touchdowns). Leading tacklers for the Rockets so far are Andrew Swicegood (11.0 per game) and Andrew Long (9.0). Owen standouts Jager Gardner (382 yards, six touchdowns), Sam Drummond (284 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions) and Cade Fox (8.5 tackles per game) have the Warhorses off to their best start since 2004. Reynolds holds the all-time edge in the series, 34-24.
Pick: Reynolds by 7.
ASHBROOK (0-2) at ASHEVILLE (2-0)
Last week: Ashbrook lost to Shelby Crest, 25-23; Asheville beat Polk County, 21-0.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Home field could not be a much bigger advantage for Asheville High and Jermaine Battle (119 yards, one touchdown). The Cougars have won 16 of their last 17 games in friendly surroundings. Any edge is welcome tonight, especially since Asheville will likely be without leading rusher Cameron Ray (183 yards, four touchdowns), who has been in a walking boot with a severe ankle sprain. If Ray cannot go, the load will be even heavier for Battle and playmakers like Tevin Salters (113 yards and no touchdowns with one interception) and Travis Lytle (108 yards and no touchdowns). Asheville is the only WNC team that has three rushers with more than 100 yards. Former All-Mountain Athletic Conference selection Danquiries Green leads the Cougars with 12.5 tackles a game, followed by Bryson Bradley (9.0). Appearances are truly not what they seem with Ashbrook’s record. The Green Wave have lost the past two weeks to Burns and Crest by a combined seven points. Senior Trey Brice entered this season with a school record for career passing yards (3,970), but is now primarily a receiver. He and Austin Mitchell shared duties at quarterback last Friday.
Pick: Asheville by 1.
MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (0-2) at NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-2)
Last week: Mountain Heritage lost to Erwin, 55-13; North Buncombe lost to Madison, 26-14.
Last year: Mountain Heritage beat North Buncombe, 63-33.
Notes: Whatever works. North Buncombe’s offense has been unable to score a conventional touchdown in the past two weeks, but the Black Hawks got on the board last Friday with Tyler Peterson’s 82-yard kickoff return and Caleb Gwaltney’s 39-yard fumble return. Quarterback Cody Morelock remained in last week’s game despite dislocating a finger in the first half. Mountain Heritage quarterback Trevor Robinson had a hand in both his team’s touchdowns last Friday — a 3-yard run and 9-yard pass to Dalton Robinson — and also led the Cougars in rushing (99 yards). Mountain Heritage has won four straight games in this series.
Pick: Mountain Heritage by 3.
FRANKLIN (1-0) at ROBERSON (2-0)
Last week: Franklin beat Murphy, 41-17; Roberson beat Tuscola, 27-18.
Last year: Roberson beat Franklin, 20-7.
Notes: For now, robbing Peter to pay Paul is a transaction that Franklin is going to have to learn to accept. Marquel Manning (71 yards, two touchdowns) is out for a minimum of two weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament, damaged anterior cruciate ligament and bone bruise. Manning led all WNC rushers a year ago with 2,364 yards and came into this season needing 484 more to break the school’s career record (3,419 yards). His fullback, Jeremiah Young (137 yards, two touchdowns), showed he could be a capable replacement against Murphy, but Young also leads the Panthers defense in tackles (9.5). Billy Higdon will fill Young’s old position on offense until Manning can return. Roberson hopes that Reggie Pinner (407 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions) can follow up last Friday’s performance in which the senior threw a career-high four touchdown passes to Marcus Jenkins (two), Alex Talley and Ben Warren. Alex Schultz is averaging a team-high 10 tackles per game.
Pick: Franklin by 1.
ENKA (0-2) at SMOKY MOUNTAIN (1-1)
Last week: Enka lost to Pisgah, 28-7; Smoky Mountain lost to Swain County, 34-20.
Last year: Enka beat Smoky Mountain, 42-14.
Notes: Athletic trainers across WNC definitely earned their money last Friday. Enka was among the teams that lost a key player to injury — senior quarterback Tyler Pressley (163 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions) is questionable tonight with a knee injury. His backup, Hunter Graham, passed for 148 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Zane Capps in the fourth quarter. Graham also has yet to throw an interception. Smoky Mountain’s Zeb Speir (402 yards and four touchdowns with one interception) leads WNC Athletic Conference quarterbacks in passing. Mustangs kicker Zach Bryson has connected on three field goals in two weeks (21, 29 and 40 yards). Bryson is also the goalkeeper for the Smoky Mountain soccer team.
Pick: Enka by 3.
MCDOWELL (1-1) at EAST BURKE (0-2)
Last week: McDowell lost to Avery County, 9-7; East Burke lost to Patton, 20-17.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Save the charity for somewhere besides the football field. The McDowell offense imploded last Friday, committing five turnovers in the second half. As a result, the Titans had just 156 total yards against Avery County and have managed just 15 combined points in two games. Dallas Myers’ 16-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Martin was their only score last Friday. On a much brighter side, the defense has only allowed 14 points in two weeks. Their primary concern tonight must be East Burke senior Larry Clark, who had 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns last Friday. Quarterback Eli Reese threw for 166 yards.
Pick: McDowell by 1.
HENDERSONVILLE (1-1) at EAST HENDERSON (0-2)
Last week: Hendersonville beat West Henderson, 52-13; East Henderson lost to Robbinsville, 48-26.
Last year: East Henderson beat Hendersonville, 43-33.
Notes: Hendersonville has a future star on its hands. But the future is now for Bearcats junior Cole Cleary, who has passed for 322 yards and four touchdowns with a lone interception in the first two weeks of his varsity career. Cleary has been even more impressive with his legs as evidenced by a team-high 385 yards and three touchdowns. He is the current NCPreps.com 2-A state player of the week. Lucas Brovet leads the two-time defending Western Highlands Conference champions in tackles (13.0 per game) and fellow senior Cavon Scott (11.5) isn’t far behind. Defending WNC Athletic Conference champion East Henderson is coming off its most-lopsided loss in two years. Austin Fisher (122 yards and no touchdowns with one interception) and Aaron Moody (80 yards and no touchdowns with one interception) have both seen time at quarterback. Cameron Johnson is averaging a team-high 6.0 tackles a night.
Pick: Hendersonville by 10.
BREVARD (0-2) at MITCHELL (1-1)
Last week: Brevard lost to Owen, 73-6; Mitchell beat Cherokee, 39-6.
Last year: Mitchell beat Brevard, 21-15.
Notes: One more win and Mitchell will be talking about a different kind of streak. The Mountaineers and dual threat quarterback Turner Pitman (161 passing yards, 129 rushing yards and two combined touchdowns) ended the longest active skid (eight games) in the Western Highlands Conference last Friday. Pitman and Cy Thomas (172 yards, one touchdown) both ran for more than 100 yards against Cherokee. Oscar Cruz and leading tackler Dalton Beaver (8.0 per game) scored two touchdowns. Anthony Benjamin was responsible for Brevard’s only touchdown at Owen.
Pick: Mitchell by 14.
SWAIN COUNTY (2-0) at NORTH HENDERSON (0-1)
Last week: Swain County beat Smoky Mountain, 34-20; North Henderson did not play.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Secondaries better batten down the hatches when they face North Henderson and Zack Gahagan (275 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions). The last time the Knights were in action, Gahagan let 43 pass attempts fly on Aug. 23 against Roberson and Corey Foster (eight receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns) was responsible for nearly half his completions. North Henderson’s defense, led by Cole McCarson and Nick Roberts (five tackles apiece), has plenty to contend with tonight, too. Swain County senior Raymius Smith (170 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions) needs 59 yards to become just the fourth quarterback in school history to reach 3,000 career yards. Spencer McCoy (265 yards, three touchdowns) and Blake Wright (160 yards) have been a good one-two rushing punch. Taylor Oros made a career-high 15 tackles last Friday. The Maroon Devils are No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press 1-A poll and the top team in MaxPreps’ computer-generated rankings.
Pick: Swain County by 1.
EAST RUTHERFORD (0-2) at TUSCOLA (1-1)
Last week: East Rutherford lost to North Gaston, 43-42; Tuscola lost to Roberson, 27-18.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Gone. Bryce Myers (389 yards, five touchdowns) can take it to the house at any time for Tuscola, something the junior demonstrated again a week ago versus Roberson. Myers and Ben Greene (153 yards, one touchdown) get their handoffs from senior Woody Cornwell (107 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions). Mountaineers kicker Logan Lambert hit two field goals (22 and 28 yards) last Friday and another special-teams highlight came when Jon Martinez blocked a Rams punt. East Rutherford has already lost to one WNC opponent (47-28 to Erwin on Aug. 23).
Pick: Tuscola by 3.
ROSMAN (1-1) at MADISON (2-0)
Last week: Rosman lost to Thomas Jefferson, 21-13; Madison beat North Buncombe, 26-14.
Last year: Madison beat Rosman, 33-6.
Notes: Madison could not ask for much more out of Tyler Hoffman (429 yards, five touchdowns). But the Patriots are about to do just that. Hoffman has posted back-to-back 200-yard games and his rushing will be as essential as ever until fellow senior Tyler Rogers (169 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions) can return at quarterback. Rogers is out for four to six weeks with a broken leg, but Austin Payne stepped in last week to lead Madison past North Buncombe. The Patriots defense has been led by former All-WNC defensive end Derrick English (34 tackles) and Daniel Nash (28), and that unit will have to contend with Rosman’s traditional wishbone this evening. Top rushers out of the offense are Tanner Green (263 yards, five touchdowns) and Austin Anders (182 yards, one touchdown).
Pick: Madison by 7.
R-S CENTRAL (0-1) at POLK COUNTY (0-2)
Last week: R-S Central did not play; Polk County lost to Asheville, 21-0.
Last year: R-S Central beat Polk County, 22-15.
Notes: Making history has its downside, too. Polk County and Reece Schlabach (301 passing yards, 102 rushing yards, three combined touchdowns) are off to their first 0-2 start in 11 years, but it deserves a fat asterisk after losses to Shelby and Asheville High. Schlabach’s passing has allowed fellow senior Anthony Carson (14 receptions for 186 yards and one touchdown) to take the early lead amongst all WNC receivers. Both were All-Western Highlands Conference selections in 2012. Longtime Polk County coach Bruce Ollis remains stuck on 99 career wins with the Wolverines.
Pick: Polk County by 7.
AVERY COUNTY (1-1) at THOMAS JEFFERSON (2-0)
Last week: Avery County beat McDowell, 9-7; Thomas Jefferson beat Rosman, 21-13.
Last year: Thomas Jefferson beat Avery County, 13-6.
Notes: Avery County junior Tre Jackson has a leg up on most quarterbacks. Jackson completed just one pass for three yards last Friday. But he also averaged 52 yards a kick with four punts and hit the game-winning field goal from 30 yards out. Jackson and the rest of the Vikings offense are still looking to break out after scoring just 15 points this season. Tonight is the first-ever nonconference game between these two schools — Thomas Jefferson beat Avery County three out of the last four years in Western Highlands Conference play, but the Gryphons are no longer in the 1-A/2-A league. Mason Martin (251 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions) leads the Thomas Jefferson offense.
Pick: Thomas Jefferson by 3.
CHEROKEE (0-2) at CHOCTAW CENTRAL, Miss. (0-2), 8 p.m.
Last week: Cherokee lost to Mitchell, 39-6; Choctaw lost to Union (Miss.), 34-6.
Last year: Choctaw beat Cherokee, 26-6.
Notes: Practice makes perfect. But it would be preferable for everyone at Cherokee if Kennan Panther (36 tackles) weren’t getting so much work at his craft. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore has emerged as the top tackler in WNC. Channing Lossiah (10.0 per game) ranks second among Braves defenders. Cherokee scored its first points of the year last Friday on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jason McMillan to Brandon Buchanan. Choctaw’s offense hasn’t been much more potent with just 14 points in two games. Demarcus Wilson scored the Mississippi team’s lone touchdown on a 4-yard run last Friday.
Pick: Choctaw by 7.
Q. FOUNDATION (0-1) at MURPHY (0-2)
Last week: Q. Foundation lost to East Lincoln, 40-6; Murphy lost to Franklin, 41-17.
Last year: Murphy beat Q. Foundation, 56-30.
Notes: Two weeks are too soon to panic. But the concerns are rightfully growing for three-time defending 1-A Western Regional champion Murphy after being outscored 91-23 during the program’s second 0-2 start in three years. The Bulldogs and Dalton Kent (146 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions) have averaged 62.5 points in their last two meetings with Charlotte’s Q. Foundation. Former 1,000-yard rusher Gaige Cox leads the Smoky Mountain Conference’s preseason favorite in rushing (193 yards), but Murphy’s inexperienced offensive line has been unable to spring the junior for a touchdown so far.
Pick: Murphy by 14.
HAYESVILLE (2-0) at RABUN COUNTY, Ga. (0-0)
Last week: Hayesville beat Copper Basin (Tenn.), 47-7; Rabun County did not play.
Last year: Rabun County beat Hayesville, 20-6.
Notes: Look no further than Clay County for the area’s most dramatic turnaround. Hayesville and Isaac Mills (276 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions) are off to their best start since 2001 and have beaten two opponents (Towns County, Ga., and Copper Basin, Tenn.) by a combined 67-7 margin. Most of Mills’ passes have landed in the hands of Tyler Leek (six receptions for 100 yards and one touchdowns), Weston Acosta (six receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown) and Caleb Nuckolls (six receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown). Defensive leaders include Payton Long (9.5 tackles a game) and Leek (7.0). The Yellow Jackets not enjoyed a winning season since 2007. This is the opener for Rabun County, which went 6-5 in 2012.
Pick: Hayesville by 3.
ANDREWS (0-2) at RABUN GAP, Ga. (0-2)
Last week: Andrews lost to Tellico Plains (Tenn.), 26-23; Rabun Gap lost to Christ School, 21-20.
Last year: Andrews beat Rabun Gap, 29-27.
Notes: Almost, Andrews. Wildcats junior Jacob Moore (238 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions) tossed his first three touchdown passes of the year to Logan Allen, Colin Gillespie and Chase Hardin last Friday, but it wasn’t enough for the team’s first win. The counterpart for Moore (238 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions) at Rabun Gap is former Asheville resident Dallas Earnhardt (145 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions). The Eagles are led in rushing by Gerrio Rahming (480 yards, three touchdowns).
Pick: Rabun Gap by 7.
ROBBINSVILLE (2-0) vs. ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (0-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: Robbinsville beat East Henderson, 48-26; Asheville School did not play.
Last year: Did not play.
Notes: Robbinsville was on Cruz control last Friday. Junior Cruz Galaviz (491 yards, eight touchdowns) enjoyed the best rushing performance by a WNC player since 2006 with a school-record 374 yards and six touchdowns. The week before, Black Knights quarterback Dakota Crisp (294 yards and four touchdowns with on interception) was deemed the NCPreps.com 1-A state player of the week. Robbinsville is No. 5 in this week’s Associated Press 1-A poll and has a whopping seven players averaging 10 or more tackles — Skyler Matheson (14.0), Brandon Lee (13.0), Chris Duncan (11.5), Lane Millsaps (11.0), Coy Jordan (10.5), Jesse Franks (10.0) and Galaviz (10.0). Tonight’s game is one of two that Asheville School will play off-campus at Memorial Stadium (adjacent to McCormick Field). The Blues hope a new flexbone pistol offense will further tap into the rushing ability of Jay Evans and Naeem Swinton.
Pick: Robbinsville by 14.
CHRIST SCHOOL (1-0) at SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN (2-2)
Last week: Christ School beat Rabun Gap (Ga.), 21-20; SouthLake Christian beat Victory Christian, 30-0.
Last year: Christ School beat SouthLake, 24-14.
Notes: Pick up the Pace. Ellis Pace (202 yards, two touchdowns) was an All-WNC sprinter for the Christ School track team last spring and flashed that speed in last Friday’s season opener. Pace was named the NCPreps.com private-school player of the week. Jack Bonds (11.0 tackles a game), Walker Lanning (8.0) and Mark Pryor (7.0) have been defensive stalwarts. Pryor has committed to play college lacrosse for Maryland-Baltimore County. SouthLake, which is located in Huntersville, got 139 rushing yards and four touchdowns from Robert Washington in its first true game. The Eagles received a forfeit from Westminster-Catawba (S.C.) in their opener on Aug. 23.
Pick: Christ School by 1.