North Buncombe football has come a long way in three years under Curtis Cagle.
The coach inherited a program in 2012 that could barely find 22 bodies to fill helmets and pads. And it showed in the wins and losses.
Cagle and the Black Hawks bounced back from an 0-11 season three years ago with a 3-8 mark in 2013 and went 7-5 last fall.
Clearly, things are trending the right way.
“Oh yeah, there are more kids coming out than ever before,” Cagle said.
“Some of these kids are really good athletes who had only been playing one sport. They’re going to step in and help us right away. We welcome everyone in this football program. There’s a lot of excitement that comes with what these kids have done the past couple seasons. They have earned it with their time and effort.”
Building around some of the most proven skill-position players in the Mountain Athletic Conference will be key for North Buncombe. .
Chase Parker (2,487 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions) was a 2,000-yard passer in 2014 with fellow rising seniors Ricky Thrash (94 receptions for 978 yards and five touchdowns) and Mason Isgrig (16 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns) running routes for him.
Former state high jump champion Blake Mathews is also joining that receiving corps.
Colby Maltry (452 yards, 10 touchdowns) has transferred from Erwin and backfield mate Daniel Candler formerly played for Enka.
Juniors Andrew Beck and Austin Ponder are veteran members of their offensive line.
Defensively, seniors Isgrig, Chase Casteel and Peter Simonovich are back on the line. As far as linebackers go, Sammy MacDonald averaged 7.0 tackles a game last fall.
Tommy Apostolopolous has proven ability as a kicker.
Note: A more complete preview of North Buncombe and other WNC football teams will be available in the Aug. 16 print edition of the Citizen-Times.