Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain Athletic Conference
ASHEVILLE (4-4, 2-1) at ROBERSON (6-2, 2-1), 7 p.m.
Last week: Asheville beat McDowell, 30-20; Roberson lost to Erwin, 26-18.
Last year: Asheville beat Roberson, 28-21.
Notes: Did you catch the license plate? No. 44 is the number that a lot of quarterbacks are seeing before some harsh contact from the Roberson defense. Rams junior Greg Johnston now has 15 sacks after being credited with two and a half more last Friday. Johnston creates a lot of disruption with 11.4 tackles per game and has plenty of help. Senior Logan Wells is contributing a team-high 15.8 tackles a night, along with Zach Myers (9.8), Jordan McNeill (8.0), Kai Anthony (5.3), Seth Rowe (4.6), Mikal Timpson (4.4), Dayquan Watkins (4.1), Barshia Young (4.0) and Tristen McAfee (4.0). McNeill has made nine sacks for the Rams, who only need one more win or a McDowell loss to clinch the MAC’s No. 1 seed for the NCHSAA 4-A playoffs. Ty Gossett (1,445 yards and 12 touchdowns with 10 interceptions) has spread the ball around to Young (25 receptions for 445 yards and five touchdowns), Micah Jenkins (22 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns), Davis Phillips (13 receptions for 171 yards and one touchdown) and Bryson Case (12 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown). Lejuan Rush (312 yards, seven touchdowns) and Shaquille Gist (301 yards, five touchdowns) pace the rushing attack. Asheville will counter with Devon Davidson (1,462 yards and 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions), Makaius Brewer (46 receptions for 602 yards and three touchdowns), Dana Campbell (28 receptions for 358 yards and one touchdown), DeAndre Gaskin (17 receptions for 192 yards) and Ahmad Shivers (656 yards, 14 touchdowns). Defensive leaders for the Cougars are Taquandre Bates (9.9 tackles per game), Keith Mosely (7.6), Kaejan Griffin (7.3), Andrew Leota (6.4) and Taevon Edgerton (5.6). Asheville leads this all-time series, 20-5, and hasn’t lost to Roberson since 2012.
Pick: Roberson by 1.
ERWIN (5-4, 3-1) at NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-8, 0-3), 7 p.m.
Last week: Erwin beat Roberson, 26-18; North Buncombe did not play.
Last year: Erwin beat North Buncombe, 36-34.
Notes: Erwin has endless possibilities at receiver. None are better than senior C.J. Thompson. He leads all of WNC in catches (63), receiving yards (992) and receiving touchdowns (14). The yardage and touchdowns are both career highs for Thompson, who is complemented by Trey Martin (49 receptions for 662 yards and six touchdowns), Kealin Goode (43 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns), Bryan Anuel (29 receptions for 268 yards and one touchdown) and Isaiah Poore (27 receptions for 379 yards and three touchdowns). The lucky quarterback who gets to make use of them all is senior Damien Ferguson (2,888 yards and 28 touchdowns with seven interceptions). His area record for career passing is now 8,478 yards. Ferguson (353 yards, four touchdowns), Poore (718 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Quentin Smith (485 yards, six touchdowns) provide most of the Warriors’ rushing. Three players are averaging more than six tackles a week – Chris McDonald (6.5), Alex McGlothlin (6.3) and Kendell Dover (6.1). North Buncombe hasn’t played since a 37-17 loss at Roberson on Oct. 7. Brock Mace (156 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions) returned from a knee injury that night and threw a touchdown pass to Blake Mathews (30 receptions for 313 yards and two touchdowns). Nick Lisenbee (729 yards, seven touchdowns) has more yards any other Black Hawks player in any offensive category. Dakota Vosburg (53 tackles), Jacob Villemagne (33) and Mathews (32) set the tone for the defense. Erwin leads this all-time series, 33-26-1.
Pick: Erwin by 14.
REYNOLDS (6-2, 3-0) at MCDOWELL (4-5, 1-3), 7 p.m.
Last week: Reynolds beat Enka, 63-14; McDowell lost to Asheville, 30-20.
Last year: Reynolds beat McDowell, 63-6.
Notes: Reynolds is running away with another MAC championship. The Rockets and Nathan St. Onge (842 passing yards, 771 rushing yards and 17 combined touchdowns) are the hottest team in Buncombe County football with a six-game winning streak. They are averaging 40.1 points a game. Competitively-speaking, it looks like the last roadblock between back-to-back MAC titles is next week’s live TV game against Roberson. First things first though, Reynolds has to go down Old Fort Mountain and McDowell played Asheville High tough last Friday before succumbing on the road. Keyal Talbert (433 rushing yards, 282 receiving yards and seven combined touchdowns) and Sean Jones (367 yards, four touchdowns) are part of the Rockets’ backfield and their receiving corps includes Rmani Lynch (23 receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns) and Kaedin Robinson (14 receptions for 234 yards and three touchdowns). Frank Torres (93) and Conor Sullivan (90) are first and second in tackles for Reynolds. Charlie Lehman (74) returned an interception and a blocked punt for touchdowns last Friday. Reynolds leads the all-time series with McDowell, 18-3, and hasn’t lost to the Titans since 1995. Ben Ballew (973 yards and seven touchdowns with 14 interceptions) is about to become a 1,000-yard passer as a junior for McDowell. His favorite targets have been Chase Justice (29 receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns), Tyler Banks (25 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown) and Dakota Effler (14 receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown). Matthew Moss (582 yards, two touchdowns) is giving the Titans 6.6 yards per carry. The defense relies on Damon McNeely (6.9 tackles a game), Kaali Tobe (6.0), Adam Randolph (5.1), Ricky Amador (5.1), Tyler Banks (4.8) and Micah Detwiler (4.3).
Pick: Reynolds by 24.
Western North Carolina Athletic Conference
NORTH HENDERSON (3-5, 1-3) at PISGAH (8-0, 4-0)
Last week: North Henderson lost to Franklin, 26-14; Pisgah beat Tuscola, 23-20.
Last year: Pisgah beat North Henderson, 31-7.
Notes: Who says a guy can’t have it all? Alabama recruit Michael Parrott (628 yards, five touchdowns) is a future fullback for the nation’s top-ranked college team and his high school appears to be headed for its first conference championship since 2010. Tanner Wike (1,068 passing yards, 595 rushing yards and 20 combined touchdowns) went over 1,000 yards a week ago and has achieved the milestone with the aid of Trey Morgan (49 receptions for 843 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Isaiah Fisher (14 receptions for 85 yards). The Black Bears held Tuscola scoreless in the second half last Friday with tacklers such as Jeff Albritton (66), Tanner Lanning (60), Houston Rogers (46) and Isaiah Fisher (31). North Henderson’s Kalin Ensley (1,077 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions) is the second area sophomore to pass for 1,000 yards this fall and threw for a season-high 216 yards last Friday. Darren Lammons, who is a junior, has been far-and-away the top receiver for the Knights with 53 catches for 612 yards and three touchdowns. Miguel Lammons (12 receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown) and Colby Thomas (12 receptions for 100) each have a dozen. The defense has been shored up by Austin Vanhoy (7.9 tackles a game), Kingston Thomas (7.3) and Mikey Smithers (6.6).
Pick: Pisgah by 14.
BREVARD (6-2, 3-1) at SMOKY MOUNTAIN (6-2, 2-2)
Last week: Brevard beat West Henderson, 42-0; Smoky Mountain beat East Henderson, 48-13.
Last year: Smoky Mountain beat Brevard, 28-26.
Notes: Opponents might beg to differ. But there really is only one Ethan Shook on the field at all times for Brevard. Shook has become the latest mountain defender to record 100 tackles – the junior has 104 total (nine for a loss) – after last Friday. Shook is averaging 13.0 tackles per game for the Blue Devils. Additional standouts are Tanner Pettit (7.9), Kyle Williams (7.6), Estevian Benjamin (6.8), Earon Wilkes (4.9) and Jesse Lowery (4.8). When Brevard has the ball, the Blue Devils count on Tanner Ellenberger (1,260 passing yards, 357 rushing yards and 28 combined touchdowns), Pettit (609 yards, three touchdowns), Ari Williams (26 receptions for 523 yards and nine touchdowns) and Lane Pressley (19 receptions for 294 yards and six touchdowns) to move the chains. Brevard has won three times as many games as it did in 2015 (two) and Smoky Mountain is one away from assuring its first winning season since 1999. The Mustangs have a pair of 1,000-yard performers in seniors Cole Hooper (1,422 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions) and Matthew Ridley (1,214 yards, nine touchdowns). The primary receivers for Hooper are Austin Baumgarner (32 receptions for 553 yards and four touchdowns), Tristen Kenyon (22 receptions for 179 yards and one touchdown), Connor Moore (18 receptions for 337 yards and two touchdowns) and Tyler Waliezer (13 receptions for 96 yards). Kyle Bradley (60 tackles), Moore (42), Michael Ashe (41), Gage Kosnik (37), Devon Stephens (35), Hunter Coggins (35) and Cody Lominac (34) are names to watch for on defense.
Pick: Brevard by 1.
WEST HENDERSON (3-5, 1-3) at TUSCOLA (7-1, 3-1)
Last week: West Henderson lost to Brevard, 42-0; Tuscola lost to Pisgah, 23-20.
Last year: Tuscola beat West Henderson, 21-0.
Notes: Two big rivals. One big dilemma. How can Tuscola or Pisgah possibly avoid a letdown after playing in front of 13,000 people last Friday? The Mountaineers and Caleb Ferguson (1,190 rushing yards, 150 receiving yards and 29 combined touchdowns) are back home for the first time since Sept. 29. Ferguson’s supporting cast includes Brent Turner (506 yards, three touchdowns), Roman Jenkins (461 yards, three touchdowns), Grayson Perkins (419 passing yards, 239 rushing yards and 14 combined touchdowns) and Bailee Ewart (160 yards, one touchdown). On the other side of the ball, standouts are Taylor Austin (8.1 tackles a game), Joe Napert (7.1), Ewart (6.6) and Dylan Worley (6.6). West Henderson has only scored 14 points in the past three weeks. Peyton Frisbee (993 yards, 10 touchdowns) looks like he will be one of the next 1,000-yard rushers in the mountains. Brandon Whitaker (441 rushing yards, 231 passing yards and eight combined touchdowns) and Jason Wallace (212 yards) are other cogs in the offense. Devin Stepp (5.9 tackles a game), Trenton Gasperson (5.1) and Wallace (4.6) head up the defense.
Pick: Tuscola by 28.
Western Highlands Conference
HENDERSONVILLE (6-3, 3-1) at OWEN (1-7, 0-4)
Last week: Hendersonville lost to Mitchell, 35-22; Owen lost to Madison, 40-32.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Owen, 56-42.
Notes: No way around it, the football just finds Hendersonville junior Tykel Landrum. Landrum has nabbed a state-high 10 interceptions for Hendersonville after last Friday – the single season record for WNC is 13 (Smoky Mountain’s Jamie Extine in 1988) and the NCHSAA mark is 17 (Glen Alpine’s Harold Johnson in 1967). Landrum made two picks against undefeated Mitchell, which was the fourth time that he’s had multiple interceptions in a game since the season began for the Bearcats on Aug. 19. Landrum now has 21 career interceptions. There are only three players listed in the state record book with 30 or more and none of them are from WNC. Landrum (53 receptions for 944 yards and nine touchdowns) is the top receiving threat for Hendersonville as well and has returned two kicks for touchdowns. The Bearcats and Alex Williford (1,842 yards and 18 touchdowns with 13 interceptions) are still very much in the mix for a conference championship, but Friday is their next-to-last regular season game and they need Mountain Heritage to win Friday’s game at Mitchell. Other weapons besides Williford and Landrum are Ty’rese Hunt (605 yards, nine touchdowns), Leon Cooks (33 receptions for 542 yards and eight touchdowns) and Demetrius Smith (21 receptions for 174 yards and one touchdown). Seven players from Hendersonville are averaging more than six tackles a night – Taerek Daniel (7.5), Shaq Rospel (6.9), Cole McMurray (6.9), Samuel Lucas (6.4), Landrum (6.3) and Jhon Salguero (6.1) and Shawn Pearce (6.1). Owen will counter with Kendrick Weaver (766 passing yards, 178 rushing yards and 10 combined touchdowns), Cyrus Hooper (520 yards, six touchdowns), Tyler Sexton (19 receptions for 330 yards and four touchdowns) and Waleed Kahlil (14 receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown). Weaver is a sophomore who scored on three quarterback keepers last Friday. Key tacklers are Antonio McDowell (6.5 a game), Alex Huntsinger (6.4), Sexton (5.9), Kaleb Woods (5.5) and Jadon Watson (5.5).
Pick: Hendersonville by 14.
MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (7-1, 2-1) at MITCHELL (8-0, 3-0)
Last week: Mountain Heritage did not play; Mitchell beat Hendersonville, 35-22.
Last year: Mountain Heritage beat Mitchell, 41-27.
Notes: Come one, come all in the Toe River Valley. Mitchell’s stadium has seats for about 4,000 fans. Friday’s game in Ledger should draw at least twice that if the weather is good. The Mountaineers and junior Ben Young (1,316 passing yards, 603 rushing yards and 24 combined touchdowns) have equaled their best start in school history. Ground support has come from Ben Robinson (587 yards, six touchdowns), Landon Miller (297 yards, seven touchdowns) and Noah Pitman (259 yards, three touchdowns). Brody Smith (30 receptions for 714 yards and eight touchdowns) also competed an 11-yard touchdown throw last Friday. Alex McKinney (16 receptions for 234 yards and five touchdowns) and Pitman (13 receptions for 176 yards and one touchdown) are other trusty hands. Robinson has secured a team-high 60 tackles for the defense, followed by Jacob Yelton (53), Trevor Self (50), McKinney (46) and Miller (43). Mitchell leads the all-time series, 29-16. In terms of preparation for this installment, give the edge to Mountain Heritage, which hasn’t played since a 44-0 win at Owen on Oct. 7. The Cougars’ first shutout of the season can be attributed to tacklers such as Adam Shuford (15.8 a game), Corey Presnell (11.4), Dathan Robinson (10.4), Seth Randolph (10.4), Kane McCandless (9.3) and Dawson Branton (8.1). Trey Robinson (993 rushing yards, 929 passing yards and 25 combined touchdowns), is once again the top playmaker for the Cougars when they have the football. The junior should go over 1,000 yards in two offensive categories on Friday, something that senior Junior Denton (1,003 yards, nine touchdowns) has already accomplished with his rushing. Justin Keener (317 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Cole Burleson (307 receiving yards, 194 rushing yards and 10 combined touchdowns) are two other standouts.
Pick: Mitchell by 1.
Smoky Mountain Conference
MURPHY (7-1, 3-0) at HAYESVILLE (1-6, 1-2)
Last week: Murphy did not play; Hayesville lost to Robbinsville, 49-28.
Last year: Murphy beat Hayesville, 54-13.
Notes: Being the head coach for North Carolina in this year’s Shrine Bowl has put Murphy’s David Gentry in a real bind. At least he hopes. The NCHSAA announced earlier this week that it was moving its state-championship weekend for football to Dec. 16-17 due to flooding in the eastern part of the state. South Carolina has done the same thing, meaning there could be a higher-than-usual number of alternate players and coaches for the 80th annual all-star game between the Carolinas on Dec. 17 in Spartanburg, S.C. Gentry and Murphy have appeared in three state-championship games since 2010, winning the 1-A classification in 2011 and 2013. The current Bulldogs are ninth in this week’s Associated Press 1-A rankings and have won their six games by an average of exactly 33.0 points. Joey Curry (1,001 yards and nine touchdowns) went over 1,000 yards in the Bulldogs’ last game (a 48-0 home shutout of Andrews on Oct. 7. The junior is the only 1,000-yard passer in WNC who has yet to throw an interception. The most effective weapons around Curry are Colton Posey (32 receptions for 509 yards and six touchdowns), Kadrian McRae (417 yards, nine touchdowns), Slade McTaggart (348 yards, five touchdowns), Riley Blalock (225 yards, six touchdowns) and Keivon Allen (209 yards, five touchdowns). Adam Powell averages a team-high 7.6 tackles a game, followed by McTaggart (6.9), Cody Cantrell (6.3) and Cory Farmer (6.0). Hayesville sophomore Alan Gillis (600 passing yards, 527 rushing yards and 14 combined touchdowns) passed for three touchdowns last week and ran for a fourth. The players who caught the touchdowns were no surprise – Brian Smith (20 receptions for 219 yards and one touchdown) and Peyton Krieger (14 receptions for 249 yards and three touchdowns). Thomas Cothren (6.6 tackles a game) and Devin Boykin (6.5) are first and second in tackles.
Pick: Murphy by 28.
ANDREWS (2-7, 1-3) at CHEROKEE (4-4, 1-2)
Last week: Andrews lost to Swain County, 41-14; Cherokee beat Rosman, 45-3.
Last year: Cherokee lost to Andrews, 41-30, and 26-14 in the first round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
Notes: Longevity is just one of Cherokee junior Tye Mintz’s qualities. Mintz (1,201 passing yards, 467 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns) has now thrown for 3,073 the past two years as the Braves’ starting quarterback. His receiving corps includes Holden Straughan (25 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns), Cade Mintz (22 receptions for 363 yards and four touchdowns) and Isaiah Evans (494 rushing yards, 155 receiving yards and four combined touchdowns). Straughan (7.5) and Byron Locust (5.4) lead the way in tackling. Andrews will try to recover from back-to-back losses with Matt Barton (396 yards and one touchdown with six interceptions), Andrew Horton (305 yards) and Kylan Thompson (10 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown).
Pick: Cherokee by 7.
ROSMAN (1-7, 0-4) at SWAIN COUNTY (3-5, 3-0)
Last week: Rosman lost to Cherokee, 45-3; Swain County beat Andrews, 41-4.
Last year: Swain County beat Rosman, 28-21.
Notes: Conference play was a second chance after a 0-5 start. Swain County and Brodie Bowman (939 passing yards, 284 rushing yards and nine combined touchdowns) have taken it on with gusto. Bowman hooked up twice with Brier Younce (26 receptions for 408 yards and four touchdowns) for scores last Friday. Seth Parker (21 receptions for 406 yards and two touchdowns), Keshaun Beaner (341 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Chris Miller (333 yards, three touchdowns) have also been instrumental to a three-game winning streak. Wren Gunter has amassed 62 tackles, 25 more than any other Maroon Devils player. Rosman and Luke Stewart (591 yards and two touchdowns with six interceptions) have gone three games without a touchdown. Harper Reese has made a field goal in each of the last two. Will Partin (7.5 tackles a game), Neil Tesnow (5.3) and Chandon Dodson (4.3) are stalwarts for the defense.
Pick: Swain County by 21.
CAROLINA WILDCATS, S.C. (4-4) at ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (5-2), 4:30 p.m.
Last week: Carolina Wildcats lost to the Georgia (Ga.) Force, 31-14; Asheville School beat the Anderson (S.C.) Cavaliers, 17-14.
Last year: The two teams did not play.
Notes: Asheville School senior Rashad Morrison is the best security blanket a first-year starting quarterback could ask for. Morrison (34 receptions for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns) has been responsible for all but three of the touchdowns put in the air by Blues junior Ahmad Galimore (984 passing yards, 210 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns). Fisher Howard (382 yards, four touchdowns) is averaging 6.5 yards a carry. J.P. Schill and Chris Amoroso share the team lead in tackles with 7.9 a game, followed by Paul Hill (6.9), Howard (5.7), Morrison (5.5) and Umit Muradi (5.0). The Carolina Wildcats are based out of Pickens, S.C., and 1-1 against WNC competition this fall — they lost 42-0 to Murphy on Sept. 2 and beat the Carolina Gladiators, 32-8, the week after that.
Pick: Asheville School by 10.
CHRIST SCHOOL (6-1) at FIRST ASSEMBLY CHRISTIAN (7-1), 7 p.m.
Last week: Christ School beat Hickory Grove, 47-0; First Assembly beat SouthLake Christian, 56-7.
Last year: Christ School beat First Assembly, 46-34.
Notes: Football is a game of repetition and steeped in routine. So how does a team react to four cancelled or postponed game in two years? Positively, according to sixth-year Christ School coach Mark Moroz. This game was originally scheduled for Oct. 7 in Concord, but pushed back due to Hurricane Matthew. Senior quarterback and two-year starter Drew Johnson (1,710 yards and 22 touchdowns with four interceptions) has completed 69 percent of his 189 pass attempts to a cadre of receivers. That group is Keyvaun Cobb (44 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns), Jared Letman-Gash (25 receptions for 340 yards and nine touchdowns), Kokayi Cobb (18 receptions for 456 yards and one touchdown), Gabe Blevins (17 receptions for 265 yards and two touchdowns), Kevin Snyder (16 receptions for 135 yards) and Tyler Redmond (13 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns). Kokayi Cobb is the No. 1 rusher with 29 attempts for 278 yards and five touchdowns. Seth Griswold has asserted himself in his first year of private-school football. The former All-WNC linebacker from Roberson has gathered a team-high 64 tackles as a reclassified junior, while other noteworthy defenders for Christ School are Carson Jones (57), Sage Holley (48), Ross Oakley (38), Banks Campbell (25) and Keyvaun Cobb (24).
Pick: Christ School by 3.
– Compiled by staff writer Andrew Pearson