Conversations with Erwin football coach Mike Sexton about his next opponent’s weaknesses are short talks.
Namely, because Sexton said he and his staff didn’t see a whole lot that could be exploited after scouting last week’s Asheville High-North Buncombe game.
“(Asheville) looks solid everywhere,” Sexton said.
“Offensive, defense, special teams, you name it. They’re just impressive.”
The Cougars (9-1, 5-0) and Warriors (9-0, 5-0) meet Friday at Erwin and the stakes are clear and simple – the winner not only puts the Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A championship in their trophy case, but keep themselves in line for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCHSAA playoffs.
The brackets will be released by the state association on Saturday.
Erwin has not played since Oct. 24 – a 47-14 win at North Buncombe, while the Cougars beat the Black Hawks by a 46-0 score on Friday even without the services of leading rusher Jave Jones (1,184 yards, 15 touchdowns), who was held out with an ankle injury.
“Thanks for reminding me of that,” Sexton said with a laugh.
“We had a real good bye week. The kids are really focused and they practiced like they knew the weight of this game coming up. It’s a great opportunity for our kids and we’re glad it’s at home. Nothing is going to be easy about it. It’s going to be a battle, a dogfight from start to finish.”
Erwin beat Asheville twice at home in 2012 (61-35 and 41-34) after the two had an instant rematch in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-AA playoffs.
But the Warriors were also 9-0 in 2013 when they lost 21-7 on the Cougars’ home field. The current team will try to become the first in school history to start a season 10-0 on Friday at Kerr Stadium.
“We know what these games with Asheville are like and it’s really become a great rivalry (in recent years),” Sexton said.
“This is why you coach and why kids play, for games like this.”
Erwin sophomore Damien Ferguson (1,943 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions) is a first-year starter who has acclimated quickly to the quarterback position thanks to a receiving corps made up of Chavis Williams (42 receptions for 776 yards and seven touchdowns), Chase Austin (34 receptions for 615 yards and five touchdowns), Jeremiah Jackson (25 receptions for 390 yards and five touchdowns) and Kealin Goode (16 receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown).
Ferguson is second on the team in rushing (271 yards, five touchdowns) behind Colby Maltry (399 yards, nine touchdowns).
On the other side of the ball, senior Mitchell Chancey leads the Mountain Athletic Conference in tackles (14.6 per game), followed by Trevor Franklin (8.6), Rayonte Mills (7.3), C.C. Robinson (7.3), Kyri Logan (4.8) and Ethan Silver (4.2).
Austin (4.2) had an injury scare after making a touchdown-saving tackle in the North Buncombe game, but only suffered a sprained wrist.