Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain Athletic Conference
NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-9, 0-4) at ASHEVILLE (4-5, 2-2), 7 p.m.
Last week: North Buncombe lost to Erwin, 50-29; Asheville lost to Roberson, 12-11.
Last year: Asheville beat North Buncombe, 53-10.
Notes: Keep it quiet? Without a whole lot of fanfare, Asheville High senior Devon Davidson (1,764 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions) is close to becoming the top passer in school history. His 3,396 career yards are believed to be the second-most ever produced by a Cougars quarterback. The school record belongs to Brandon Whiteside, who amassed 3,515 yards between 2007 and 2009. Whiteside is currently an Asheville assistant coach. Davidson has gotten this far with the help of Makaius Brewer (52 receptions for 743 yards and three touchdowns), Dana Campbell (44 receptions for 507 yards and one touchdown), DeAndre Gaskin (18 receptions for 201 yards) and Ahmad Shivers (725 rushing yards, 81 receiving yards and 16 combined touchdowns). The defense takes its cues from Taquandre Bates (9.7 tackles per game), Micah Robertson (8.9), Keith Mosely (8.0) and Kaejan Griffin (7.2). North Buncombe junior Nick Lisenbee (859 yards, nine touchdowns) gave Erwin a scare last Friday by carrying a 22-21 lead into the fourth quarter. Lisenbee ran for 130 yards in the eventual loss. Brock Mace (382 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions) and Caden Higgins (303 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions) both saw time at quarterback. Blake Mathews (34 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns) and Jake Novak (10 receptions for 77 yards) are the top receiving threats for North Buncombe. Dakota Vossburg (60 tackles), Jacob Villemagne (39), Emory Pennell (37) and Mathews have taken charge for the defense. Asheville leads this all-time series by a commanding count of 22-3. The Black Hawks’ last taste of victory against the Cougars occurred in 1999.
Pick: Asheville by 7.
MCDOWELL (4-6, 1-4) at ENKA (2-7, 1-3), 7 p.m.
Last week: McDowell lost to Reynolds, 57-0; Enka did not play.
Last year: McDowell beat Enka, 40-19.
Notes: Quarterbacks with a cannon and game smarts are hard to come by. Enka senior Avery Holbrook (1,190 passing yards, 361 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns) and McDowell junior Ben Ballew (1,076 yards and seven touchdowns with 19 interceptions) fit that bill. Holbrook has completed 16 or more passes to four different players – Donyelle Gaines (23 receptions for 318 yards and one touchdown), Will Redmon (19 receptions for 310 yards and five touchdowns), Seth Phillips (16 receptions for 201 yards and one touchdown) and Chase Bennett (16 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown). Austin Clark (235 yards, one touchdown) is another rusher that defense must be on guard for. Garret Banks (9.3 tackles per game), Holbrook (7.1), Walker Brown (6.8), Zane Turner (6.6), Chase Bennett (5.7) and Bryson Allen (4.8) are valued members of the defense. Most of Ballew’s passes have been sent in the direction of Chase Justice (29 receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns), Tyler Banks (25 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown) and Dakota Effler (15 receptions for 144 yards and one touchdown). Matthew Moss (627 yards, two touchdowns) and Terion Camp (319 yards, one touchdown) get their share of carries. Leading tacklers for the Titans are Damon McNeely (6.5 tackles per game), Kaali Tobe (6.1), Adam Randolph (5.1), Banks (4.9), Ricky Amador (4.8) and Micah Detwiler (4.2).
Pick: McDowell by 1.
Western North Carolina Athletic Conference
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (6-3, 2-3) at PISGAH (9-0, 5-0)
Last week: Smoky Mountain lost to Brevard, 43-0; Pisgah beat North Henderson, 37-27.
Last year: Pisgah beat Smoky Mountain, 35-17.
Notes: Not much farther. Pisgah and Jeff Albritton (77 tackles) are one win away from clinching at least a share of their first conference football championship in six years. Albritton’s teammates on defense include Tanner Lanning (65 tackles), Houston Rogers (50) and Isaiah Fisher (35). On the other side of the ball, the Black Bears get their biggest production out of Tanner Wike (1,200 passing yards, 667 rushing yards and 25 combined touchdowns), Alabama recruit Michael Parrott (722 yards, six touchdowns) and Fisher (455 yards, seven touchdowns). Pisgah was No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press rankings for NCHSAA 3-A. Smoky Mountain will counter Friday in Canton with the top passer in the WNCAC – Cole Hooper (1,482 yards and 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions) – as well as fellow senior Matthew Ridley (1,223 yards, nine touchdowns), Austin Baumgarner (33 receptions for 598 yards and four touchdowns), Tristen Kenyon (22 receptions for 179 yards and one touchdown), Connor Moore (20 receptions for 342 yards and two touchdowns) and Tyler Waliezer (13 receptions for 96 yards). Defensive stalwarts for the Mustangs are Kyle Bradley (64 tackles), Michael Ashe (43) and Hunter Coggins (42).
Pick: Pisgah by 21.
FRANKLIN (5-4, 3-2) at WEST HENDERSON (3-6, 1-4)
Last week: Franklin beat East Henderson, 38-7; West Henderson lost to Tuscola, 56-0.
Last year: West Henderson beat Franklin, 26-23.
Notes: Win or lose, West Henderson senior Peyton Frisbee is undaunted. Neither the Falcons’ recent struggles on offense — they have scored 14 total points in their last four games — nor a shoulder injury have kept Frisbee (1,099 yards, 10 touchdowns) from becoming a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time. He had 106 yards last Friday and is averaging 137.4 per game. Frisbee gets his handoffs from Brandon Whitaker (458 rushing yards, 242 passing yards and eight combined touchdowns) as does Jason Wallace (229 yards). Devin Stepp averages a team-high 5.4 tackles a night and his supporting cast includes Trenton Gasperson (5.1), Brandon Lovelace (4.7), Elijah Nickell (4.4), Wallace (4.2) and Jasper Thomas (4.2). Their responsibility on Friday is a big one, trying to slow Franklin junior Brock Kloeppel, who leads all mountain rushers with 259 carries for 1,487 yards and 26 touchdowns. Andrew Moore (1,352 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions) has largely relied on the tandem of Jordin Nugent (37 receptions for 470 yards and one touchdown) and Bailey Watts (35 receptions for 516 yards and two touchdowns). Logan Tallent (6.4 tackles per game) leads the way on defense along with Carrington Houston (5.0) and Grant Vanhook (5.0). Franklin hadn’t lost a WNCAC game in three years before last season’s setback to West Henderson.
Pick: Franklin by 14.
EAST HENDERSON (0-9, 0-5) at TUSCOLA (8-1, 4-1)
Last week: East Henderson lost to Franklin, 38-7; Tuscola beat West Henderson, 56-0.
Last year: Tuscola beat East Henderson, 52-18.
Notes: Just like that, the boys in gold and black are back on track. Tuscola recovered from an initial loss (23-20 at Pisgah on Oct. 14) with its first shutout win of the season last Friday thanks to tacklers like Taylor Austin (8.1 a game) and Joe Napert (7.1), as well as Bailee Ewart (6.6) and Dylan Worley (6.6). The Mountaineers have lots of defense and also offense to spare with Caleb Ferguson (1,419 rushing yards, 150 receiving yards and 34 combined touchdowns), Roman Jenkins (515 yards, four touchdowns), Brent Turner (510 yards, three touchdowns) and Grayson Perkins (479 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions). Tuscola remains undefeated at home this season. East Henderson’s Jake Shattuck rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown a week ago.
Pick: Tuscola by 21.
BREVARD (7-2, 4-1) at NORTH HENDERSON (3-6, 1-4)
Last week: Brevard beat Smoky Mountain, 43-0; North Henderson lost to Pisgah, 37-27.
Last year: North Henderson beat Brevard, 41-10.
Notes: Feel-good story? Feel bad if you have to play a Brevard program that has won its most games since 2007. Tanner Ellenberger (1,406 passing yards, 476 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns) is a two-way threat who has sent most of his passes to Ari Williams (30 receptions for 565 yards and nine touchdowns), Lane Pressley (19 receptions for 294 yards and six touchdowns), Jesse Lowery (13 receptions for 172 yards and five touchdowns) and Nick Cabe (13 receptions for 169 yards and three touchdowns). Tanner Pettit (687 yards, four touchdowns) is tops in rushing and second in tackles (7.7 a game) to Ethan Shook (11.0). Kyle Williams (7.6), Estevian Benjamin (6.4), Earon Wilkes (4.8) and Lowery (4.6) are other key defenders. North Henderson and Darren Lammons (65 receptions for 761 yards for four touchdowns) nearly knocked off undefeated Pisgah last Friday. Lammons is the leading receiver in WNC as of this week. His quarterback is Kalin Ensley (1,339 passing yards, 569 rushing yards and 11 combined touchdowns). Colby Thomas (313 rushing yards and 111 receiving yards) and Miguel Lammons (16 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns) are other big yardage-gainers. Austin Vanhoy (8.2 tackles per game), Mikey Smithers (6.6) and Kingston Thomas (6.5) stand out for the defense.
Pick: Brevard by 7.
Western Highlands Conference
OWEN (1-8, 0-5) at POLK COUNTY (4-5, 2-2)
Last week: Owen lost to Hendersonville, 38-21; Polk County did not play.
Last year: Polk County beat Owen, 41-20.
Notes: Kendrick Weaver hasn’t played JV football this fall like most sophomore quarterbacks in the mountains. That bodes well for the Owen varsity’s future. Weaver (910 passing yards, 181 rushing yards and 13 combined touchdowns) is on his way to 1,000 yards thanks to the hands of Tyler Sexton (24 receptions for 413 yards and five touchdowns) and Waleed Kahlil (17 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns). Cyrus Hooper has carried the ball 143 times for 520 yards and six touchdowns. Tackling leaders for the Swannanoa Valley team are Antonio McDowell (6.6 a game), Alex Huntsinger (6.5), Kaleb Woods (6.2) and Sexton (6.0). Polk County hasn’t played since a 46-7 home win over Avery County on Oct. 14. Dillon Overholt (792 passing yards, 805 rushing yards and 17 combined touchdowns) continues to drive the offense. Other weapons for the Wolverines are Jaymes Wingo (529 rushing yards, 226 receiving yards and seven combined touchdowns) and Joshua Chupp (20 receptions for 279 yards and three touchdowns). Austin Wilson (6.1 tackles a game) and Joshua Chupp (5.6) have taken charge for the defense.
Pick: Polk County by 7.
MITCHELL (8-1, 3-1) at MADISON (5-4, 2-2)
Last week: Mitchell lost to Mountain Heritage, 34-7; Madison beat Avery County, 56-21.
Last year: Mitchell beat Madison, 63-0.
Notes: Repeating the past is not necessarily a bad thing. Mitchell and Ben Young (1,404 passing yards, 675 rushing yards and 24 combined touchdowns) saw a school record 8-0 start ruined by Mountain Heritage last Friday. Here’s the kicker. Young and the Mountaineers dealt with the same scenario in 2015 and went on to win their first-ever regional football championship. Running a route for Young? Chances are, it’s Brody Smith (31 receptions for 760 yards and eight touchdowns), Alex McKinney (17 receptions for 236 yards and five touchdowns) and Jesse Pitman (14 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown). Ben Robinson (67 tackles), Jacob Yelton (58), Alex McKinney (56), Trevor Self (54), Landon Miller (46) and Pitman (41) have funneled the most tackles for the Mountaineers. Madison has some ammunition to throw into this game as well. Start with senior quarterback Colby Edwards (1,558 passing yards, 1,007 rushing yards and 30 combined touchdowns), as well as Dawson Coates (50 receptions for 630 yards and eight touchdowns), Elan Littrell (45 receptions for 598 yards and two touchdowns), Derek Gonzalez (730 yards, four touchdowns) and Ty Snelson (334 yards, four touchdowns). The success of the Patriots defense relies on Logan Roberts (10.5 tackles a game), Keegan Foley (9.3), Devin Nash (7.8), Austin Shelton (7.1) and Dakota Surrrett (7.1).
Pick: Mitchell by 14.
AVERY COUNTY (3-6, 1-3) at MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (8-1, 3-1)
Last week: Avery County lost to Madison, 56-21; Mountain Heritage beat Mitchell, 34-7.
Last year: Mountain Heritage beat Avery County, 68-30.
Notes: Healthy team = happy team. Preseason WHC favorite Mountain Heritage and Trey Robinson (1,147 rushing yards, 996 passing yards and 29 combined touchdowns) are right where everyone thought they would be after overcoming an injury bug in recent weeks. The Cougars are the season’s first WNC team with multiple 1,000-yard rushers – Robinson and Junior Denton (1,083 yards, 10 touchdowns). Justin Keener (333 yards) has matched Denton with 10 rushing touchdowns, while the receiving corps’ top producer is Cole Burleson (12 receptions for 307 yards and five touchdowns). Mountain Heritage has four tacklers in the double digits – Adam Shuford (15.6 per game), Corey Presnell (11.3), Dathan Robinson (10.3) and Seth Randolph (10.1). Avery County quarterback Christian Hicks returned from a leg injury last Friday to throw for a pair of touchdowns. So did Steven Sanchez, who rushed for 95 yards. Brett Smith has accounted for a team-high 559 receiving yards. The Vikings lead this all-time series, 19-6, but haven’t scored a win over Mountain Heritage since 2007.
Pick: Mountain Heritage by 28.
Smoky Mountain Conference
CHEROKEE (5-4, 2-2) at ROBBINSVILLE (4-4, 3-1)
Last week: Cherokee beat Andrews, 34-12; Robbinsville did not play.
Last year: Robbinsville beat Cherokee, 27-7.
Notes: Little by little, Cherokee continues to improve under former Western Carolina University coach Kent Briggs. The Braves’ five wins are their most since 2009 and this is Briggs’ third season in the Qualla Boundary. Tye Mintz (1,169 passing yards, 538 rushing yards and 17 combined touchdowns) has thrown the majority of his passes to Cade Mintz (27 receptions for 553 yards and five touchdowns), Holden Straughan (27 receptions for 316 yards and four touchdowns), Shane Swimmer (25 receptions for 149 yards) and Anthony Toineeta (15 receptions for 287 yards and four touchdowns). Isaiah Evans (710 yards, 12 touchdowns) scored four times in last week’s win over Andrews. Robbinsville and Elijah Wachacha (8.4 tackles a game) have touched a game field since their 49-28 win at Hayesville on Oct. 14. Landon Orr (6.1 tackles per game), Baylee Hall (5.6) and Cameron Black (4.6) are other names to know on the defense. Alex Bridges (661 passing yards, 149 rushing yards and 11 combined touchdowns) has completed nearly half his passes to Chandler Jumper (19 receptions for 391 yards and three touchdowns). Colby Hemphill (553 yards, seven touchdowns) and Ian Wiggins (527 yards, two touchdowns) are 500-yard rushers.
Pick: Robbinsville by 1.
SWAIN COUNTY (4-5, 4-0) at MURPHY (8-1, 4-0)
Last week: Swain County beat Rosman, 35-15; Murphy beat Hayesville, 55-0.
Last year: Swain County beat Murphy, 20-13.
Notes: Year after year, the SMC football championship was come down to the Murphy-Swain County game more than anyone can count. Friday is one more for the archives. The Bulldogs have protected their status as the SMC preseason favorite so far. They are home against a Maroon Devils team that has found conference play to be the solution for all that ails it – Swain County began the season 0-4. Last Friday’s 20-point home win over Rosman was another notch on the streak. Maroon Devils junior quarterback Brodie Bowman (1,150 passing yards, 334 rushing yards and 13 combined touchdowns) went over 1,000 yards with his second-highest single-game total (211) of the season. Bowman’s favorite receivers have been Brier Younce (29 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns) and Seth Parker (23 receptions for 482 yards and four touchdowns). They are juniors, too, as is leading rusher Keshaun Beaner (368 yards, 11 touchdowns). Chris Miller (360 yards, four touchdowns) is a senior. Wren Gunter (7.6 tackles per game) has stepped up to lead the defense along with fellow junior Will Paul (4.6). There’s no jinxing Murphy junior Joey Curry (1,085 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions). He has still yet to throw a ball into enemy hands. Instead, those passes have found the safety of Colton Posey (33 receptions for 525 yards and six touchdowns) and Travis Seabolt (10 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns). Kadrian McRae (470 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Slade McTaggart (409 yards, six touchdowns) are first and second in rushing. The Bulldogs are ninth in this week’s Associated Press 1-A rankings with a defense that depends on Adam Powell (7.4 tackles a game), Slade McTaggart (6.4), Cody Cantrell (5.9), Chase Roberts (5.4) and Cory Farmer (5.3). Murphy and Swain County had traditionally played on the final Friday of the regular season until SMC coaches voted for a rotating schedule in 2014. Combined the two rivals have won 38 conference championships – 21 for the Bulldogs and 17 for the Maroon Devils. Swain County leads the all-time series, 37-33.
Pick: Murphy by 7.
HAYESVILLE (1-7, 1-3) at ANDREWS (2-8, 1-4)
Last week: Hayesville lost to Murphy, 55-0; Andrews lost to Cherokee, 34-12.
Last year: Andrews beat Hayesville, 20-14 and 40-20.
Notes: There’s still time. Andrews and Hayesville are among the SMC teams jockeying for a potential NCHSAA playoff spot in the final weeks of the regular season. Hayesville and Alan Gillis (656 passing yards, 575 rushing yards and 14 combined touchdowns) got in last year as a three-win team. Colton Thomas (364 yards, four touchdowns), Brian Smith (20 receptions for 219 yards and one touchdown) and Payton Krieger (15 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns) are other key pieces for the Clay County offense. Devin Boykin (6.9 tackles a game) and Thomas Cothren (6.6) are two leading tacklers. Their biggest concerns on Friday will likely be Andrews’ duo of Matt Barton (413 yards and one touchdowns with seven interceptions) and Andrew Horton (326 yards). Dillan Phillips (89 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions) passed and ran for a touchdown last Friday. Hayesville leads this all-time series, 42-39-1.
Pick: Andrews by 3.
ROSMAN (1-8) at TRINITY ACADEMY, Tenn. (7-3)
Last week: Rosman lost to Swain County, 35-15; Trinity Academy beat the Carolina Gladiators, 55-8.
Last year: The two teams did not play.
Notes: A rematch does not necessarily mean a rehash. Rosman and Luke Stewart (712 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions) won their only game Sept. 16 against this same Trinity Academy team (a 14-7 game played in Transylvania County). The Tigers have been ravaged with injuries since then, which has hurt the effectiveness of an offense that also includes Tanner Whitman (494 rushing yards, 234 receiving yards and three combined touchdowns), Neil Tesnow (370 yards, one touchdown), Jonathan Holliday (258 yards, four touchdowns) and Alic Whitmire (10 receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown). Will Partin (7.4 tackles per game) has taken charge for the defense as has Tesnow (5.1).
Pick: Rosman by 1.
ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (5-2) at CHRIST SCHOOL (7-1), 1:30 p.m.
Last week: Asheville School did not play; Christ School beat First Assembly of Concord, 57-22.
Last year: Christ School beat Asheville School, 48-20, and by forfeit.
Notes: Who is No. 1? Christ School, that’s who. For the first time this season, the Greenies and Drew Johnson (1,952 passing yards, 201 rushing yards and 24 combined touchdowns) are No. 1 in this week’s computer-generated NCISAA Division II rankings from MaxPreps. And what better timing. Saturday marks the latest chapter in the Carolinas’ oldest high school football rivalry. Johnson was spread the wealth with passes to his receiving corps. The most prolific options for the senior from Spartanburg, S.C., have been Keyvaun Cobb (46 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns), Jared Letman-Gash (30 receptions for 406 yards and 11 touchdowns), Gabe Blevins (22 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns), Kokayi Cobb (21 receptions for 502 yards and one touchdown), Kevin Snyder (17 receptions for 146 yards) and Tyler Redmond (14 receptions for 223 yards and three touchdowns). Kokayi Cobb (390 yards, seven touchdowns) is a rushing threat, while the defensive standouts have been Seth Griswold (74 tackles), Carson Jones (66), Sage Holley (57) and Ross Oakley (45). Griswold recently made his 500th career tackle. Asheville School and Christ School have played football 89 times since 1911. The Blues lead the all-time series, 50-35-4, but have dropped six straight. They will look to end the skid behind Ahmad Galimore (984 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions), Rashad Morrison (514 receiving yards, 192 rushing yards and 12 combined touchdowns), Titus Morrison (13 receptions for 212 yards and one touchdown) and Fisher Howard (382 yards, four touchdowns). Leaders on defense have been Chris Amoroso and J.P. Schill, who average 7.9 tackles a game, along with Paul Hill (6.9), Howard (5.7), Morrison (5.5) and Umit Muradi (5.0).
Pick: Christ School by 21.
– Compiled by staff writer Andrew Pearson