BRYSON CITY – Swain County football coach Neil Blankenship is seeing a heightened level of energy in the weight room and on the practice field this week.
Could it be the cooler weather, he wonders. Or the fact that the Maroon Devils (1-5, 1-0) have shaken off only their third 0-5 start in school history.
Whatever the case, Swain County is finally off the schneid.
Keshaun Beaner (283 yards, nine touchdowns) rushed for a season-high 101 yards and four touchdowns in Friday’s 55-26 win at Hayesville despite only carrying the football nine times. Those scoring runs were for 2, 3, 6 and 31 yards.
Brodie Bowman (728 yards and three touchdowns with one interception) completed a pair of touchdown passes to Brier Younce (25 and 39 yards) and also found the end zone on a 6-yard quarterback keeper midway through the third quarter.
“It was good to get that win,” Blankenship said.
“We’re not used to being 0-5 here at Swain and we don’t ever want to get used to it. We don’t like that, but we’ve played a tough schedule, and we’ve played well in spurts. We just haven’t been real consistent or finished games.”
Defensive standouts for Swain County have been Wren Gunter (7.2 tackles per game), Logan Loftis (4.8) and Dawson Lowe (4.0).
The Maroon Devils travel to Cherokee (3-3, 0-1) on Friday. Swain County won last year’s game in Bryson City, 28-0, and leads the all-time series, 42-8.
“(Cherokee) is loaded with athletes,” Blankenship said.
“Everywhere you look around, they have athletes, even the backups. They are a good football team. They’ve gone through a tough stretch like us, but their schedule hasn’t been easy either.”