The winningest football coach in Asheville High history did not have a whole lot of luck at his previous stop.
Danny Wilkins resigned at Erwin after going 5-34-1 from 1988 to 1992.
So as much as anyone, Wilkins can appreciate the consistent success that his friend, Mike Sexton, and the rest of the Warriors coaching staff have instilled.
Asheville (9-1, 5-0) and homestanding Erwin (9-0, 5-0) play Friday night for the Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A championship.
The regular-season finale for both teams kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Kerr Stadium.
“They don’t have a team any more, they have a program,” Wilkins said of Erwin.
“From a staff standpoint, they know what they’re doing and how they want to do it. And their kids are gifted with some of the best talent around. They present some real problems for you defensively. It’s fitting that it comes down to this the last few years. Mike is a friend and has done a good job. I’m proud of him.”
Indeed, Asheville-Erwin has been scheduled for the last week of the regular season in the MAC every year since 2009. Overall, Wilkins is 11-3 against the Warriors since he took over the Cougars program in 2000.
Asheville is positioned to win its 10th straight conference championship on Friday, a school-record streak that began in 2005, the year that the Cougars won the NCHSAA 3-A title in Durham.
Even without leading rusher Jave Jones (due to an ankle injury), Asheville plowed through North Buncombe on Friday, 46-0, in its final regular-season home game.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” Wilkins said.
“They’ve had a good year. And they’re playing pretty well right at this minute. You hope that it continues Friday.”
The Cougars only returned eight starters (five offense, three defense) from last year’s 10-3 team, but three of them were All-MAC selections last fall – Peter Leota, Jose Daniels and Cameron Ray. That made Asheville the favorite in the MAC coaches preseason poll, while Erwin was predicted to be the 3-A/4-A league’s fourth-best team behind the Cougars, Reynolds (No. 2) and Roberson (No. 3).
Asheville and Erwin will both likely be headed to the NCHSAA 3-AA playoff division after Friday, which means their game could decide a No. 1 overall seed. Since the Cougars will have played 11 games, they can drop their loss to Knoxville West, Tenn. (34-14 on Sept. 12) in accordance with rules used by the NCHSAA for seeding.