Many words could be used to describe the evolution of the Erwin-Reynolds football series.
“Boring” would surely not be in the vernacular.
Five of the last six football games between the two Buncombe County schools have been decided by six or less points.
And there have been oddities along the way.
Remember the “fair catch” controversy in 2010? How about that 7-6 game a year later? The two had never met twice in one season until 2014.
Rico Dowdle (808 rushing yards, 611 passing yards and 23 combined touchdowns) and the Rockets lead the all-time series, 39-13-1, after last year’s NCHSAA 3-AA road playoff victory (38-32 at Kerr Stadium on Nov. 14). But the Warriors and Damien Ferguson (1,042 yards and 12 touchdowns with three interceptions) have won three out of the last five Erwin-Reynolds games.
Friday is the Mountain Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Erwin.
“It’s going to be a hectic week. There won’t be a whole lot of sleeping,” Reynolds coach Shane Laws said Monday.
“It’s a conference game to start with and Erwin is one of the best teams in our conference, no doubt. A lot goes into this week. It’s a big deal for us as I’m sure it is for them as well. All the hype and nice things that people have said up to this point about our team really don’t matter now. It’s time to produce. Our goals coming into the season were to win this conference and go deep in the playoffs. And that all starts with a big game like this.”
Erwin and Reynolds did not play football at all between 2001 and 2008, which seems unfathomable now.
Laws is impressed with the gallery of playmakers at Erwin.
“They look like a typical Erwin team to me,” Laws said.
“They can put the points up at the drop of a hat. And defensively, they play hard. I wasn’t one of the people drinking the Kool-Aid when they were losing (nonconference games) against good teams and maybe not coming off looking how they wanted to. We were in that situation last year and the year before. They’re still Erwin and they’re still doing all the things they do well. They’ve got playmakers all over the field.”
Ferguson has now strung together eight consecutive 200-yard games.
And the junior is the first MAC quarterback to surpass 1,000 yards this season despite sitting out a Week 2 win at Mountain Heritage (40-18 on Aug. 28) with a severe ankle sprain. Ferguson threw for exactly 300 yards last Friday and senior Chase Austin (26 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns) made four of his nine catches on the final scoring drive, including a 3-yard touchdown grab with 12 seconds remaining. Austin is the latest winner of the Mission Health Spotlight Performance of the Week award.
Meanwhile, C.J. Thompson (33 receptions for 274 yards and six touchdowns) has taken over the WNC lead in receiving. Kealin Goode (24 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns) and Isaiah Poore (310 yards, three touchdowns) are other valuable assets.
Tackling leaders for the Warriors are Cameron Connors (8.2 per game), Thompson (7.4), Rayonte Mills (7.0), Trey Martin (6.4) and Lucas Towles (5.8).
Dowdle will score more than 50 touchdowns in the regular season at his current pace.
A.J. Logan (357 yards, three touchdowns) and Sean Jones (196 yards, two touchdowns) have provided rushing support.
Erwin transfer Keyal Talbert (19 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns) has developed into the Rockets’ top receiver, followed by Logan (10 receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown), Eunique Waters (nine receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown) and Andrew Moore (eight receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown).
Aundreas Hill (10.8 tackles per game) is enjoying a breakout year on defense. Other key defenders for Reynolds are Najae Buchanan (7.4), Austin McCurry (6.2), Deshawn Finley (6.0) and Talon Jones (5.2).
The Rockets entered The Associated Press rankings for NCHSAA 3-A for the first time this week (at No. 10).
“‘Potent’ doesn’t begin to describe what their offense is like with Rico back there at quarterback” Erwin coach Mike Sexton said.
“And then you’ve got (Logan). He would be a premier tailback for anybody. They have got a lot of weapons and they’re gonna be hard to stop.”
REYNOLDS AT ERWIN
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Pick: Reynolds by 3.
Following is a look at the last five football games between Erwin and Reynolds:
2014: Reynolds 38, Erwin 32.
2014: Erwin 27, Reynolds 24.
2013: Erwin 69, Reynolds 28.
2012: Reynolds 24, Erwin 20.
2011: Erwin 7, Reynolds 6.
MORE ONLINE: Log onto CITIZEN-TIMES.com on Friday for score updates from all Western North Carolina games as well as live blogs from Erwin-Reynolds and McDowell-Roberson.