WNCAC co-leaders square off

WNCAC co-leaders square off

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WNCAC co-leaders square off

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Tuscola senior Woody Cornwell does not throw many wayward passes.

In fact, Cornwell is one of the few full-time starting quarterbacks in North Carolina without an interception.

Cornwell (717 passing yards, 255 rushing yards and 10 combined touchdowns) and the Mountaineers (5-1) hope that ball security holds up and that plenty more things go their way tonight when they host North Henderson (3-3).

Both teams are 2-0 and in a three-way tie for first place in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference with undefeated Franklin (6-0).

Kickoff is set for 7:30.

“North Henderson is an exceptional football team,” Tuscola coach Brandon Allen said.

“Their offense is putting up some big numbers behind a line that’s doing a good job. They are very sound at what they do. And I believe this is going to be one of the best defenses we’ve played. We’ve worked all week to get ready.”

North Henderson is coming off its first sweep of Henderson County’s other three teams (Hendersonville, East and West Henderson) since 1997, and therefore, Allen said the Knights’ .500 overall record is not indicative of what his team will face tonight.

“They could easily be 6-0,” Allen said. “They’ve been in every game they’ve played. This is a huge game. We know that everybody is still close in this conference, but we’re at the very top right now. It’s anybody’s race.”

Cornwell has completed 71 percent of his pass attempts, and most of them have been thrown in the direction of Adam Chambers (13 receptions for 179 yards and four touchdowns) and Damon McDaniels (11 receptions for 297 yards and two touchdowns).

Of course, the Mountaineers’ veer offense also has its share of worthy rushers, including Bryce Myers (748 yards, nine touchdowns) and Ben Greene (271 yards, one touchdown).

Top tacklers for Tuscola are Houston McCracken (47) and Jon Martinez (43).

As a whole, the Mountaineers are off to their best start since 2008.

“Coach Allen and his staff do a great job over there, and it’s going to be a challenge for us,” North Henderson coach Jason Dinwiddie said.

“To me, they will be the most complete football team we have played so far. And we’re going over there, which is going to be tough. It’s nothing new for these kids. They’ve been through some adversity, and, hopefully, we will execute again (tonight).”

Tuscola was picked to come in fourth in the WNCAC coaches preseason poll, but North Henderson was predicted to come in next-to-last (seventh place).

Cory Foster (44 receptions for 849 yards and eight touchdowns) has defied those odds so far. Foster leads the area in receiving, and the senior has thrived through three quarterbacks, including current starter Trevor Craft (918 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions), who is a sophomore.

Craft has also utilized Dalton Whitaker (22 receptions for 305 yards and three touchdowns), Tyler Sargent (17 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns) and Caleb Rogers (10 receptions for 91 yards).

Rogers and fellow senior Tucker Garren are two of the Henderson County team’s most indispensable players.

In addition to his work at receiver, Rogers has rushed for 260 yards and two touchdowns, which is second to Garren (312 yards, five touchdowns).

Garren also leads the Knights in tackles (46). Other key defenders are Garrett Moore (33), Cole McCarson (26) and John Beal (21).

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