Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain Athletic Conference
REYNOLDS (8-2, 5-0) at NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-10, 0-5), 7 p.m.
Last week: Reynolds beat Roberson, 38-6; North Buncombe lost to Asheville, 49-15.
Last year: Reynolds beat North Buncombe, 57-22.
Notes: Any given Friday. Anything can happen, right? Reynolds and Nathan St. Onge (1,044 passing yards, 912 rushing yards and 21 combined touchdowns) have taken out much of the guesswork on their way to back-to-back MAC championships. The Rockets have outscored their conference opponents, 241-84. St. Onge, who is a junior, went over 1,000 yards in passing last week and is his team’s dominant rusher as well, with other contributions coming from Sean Jones (552 yards, seven touchdowns) and Keyal Talbert (546 yards, eight touchdowns). The Rockets have strung together 15 consecutive MAC wins with receivers like Rmani Lynch (32 receptions for 412 yards and four touchdowns), Talbert (25 receptions for 334 yards and one touchdown) and Kaedin Robinson (22 receptions for 327 yards and four touchdowns) running routes for St. Onge and backup quarterback Alex Flinn (285 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions). North Buncombe and Nick Lisenbee (974 yards, 11 touchdowns) are the only winless team in Buncombe County football. But consider this, the Black Hawks were ahead of Erwin in the fourth quarter of an eventual 50-29 loss two weeks ago. Brock Mace (412 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions) and Caden Higgins (303 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions) have done the most damage at quarterback, largely with help from Blake Mathews (35 receptions for 456 yards and three touchdowns). Dakota Vosburg (67 tackles) has made 11 for a loss. Reynolds leads this all-time series, 40-12-1.
Pick: Reynolds by 28.
ENKA (2-8, 1-4) at ROBERSON (7-3, 3-2), 7 p.m.
Last week: Enka lost to McDowell, 28-0; Roberson lost to Reynolds, 38-6.
Last year: Roberson beat Enka, 44-3.
Notes: How do you define improvement? Winning five more games last year with an underclassman at quarterback would be a statement and then some for Roberson and Ty Gossett (1,923 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 interceptions). The main receivers playing into the breakout season for Gossett are Micah Jenkins (39 receptions for 593 yards and three touchdowns), Barshia Young (27 receptions for 471 yards and five touchdowns) and Davis Phillips (21 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown). Lejuan Rush (361 yards, seven touchdowns) and Shaquille Gist (323 yards, six touchdowns) are first and second in rushing. Senior Logan Wells continues to lead WNC in tackles (16.8 a game) with support from Greg Johnston (10.7), Zach Myers (9.4), Jordan McNeill (8.8), Tristen McAfee (6.3), and Shrine Bowl lineman Dayquan Watkins (5.3). Enka quarterback Avery Holbrook (1,305 passing yards, 403 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns) is the engine that make the Jets offense go. His receiving corps includes Donyelle Gaines (25 receptions for 335 yards and one touchdown), Will Redmon (23 receptions for 359 yards and five touchdowns), Seth Phillips (19 receptions for 233 yards and one touchdown) and Chase Bennett (16 receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown). On the other side of the ball, Enka depends the most on Garrett Banks (74 tackles), Holbrook (64), Zane Turner (59), Walker Brown (54) and Chase Bennett (51). Roberson leads this all-time series, 38-15.
Pick: Roberson by 14.
Western North Carolina Athletic Conference
PISGAH (10-0, 6-0) at BREVARD (8-2, 5-1)
Last week: Pisgah beat Smoky Mountain, 45-40; Brevard beat North Henderson, 56-0.
Last year: Pisgah beat Brevard, 34-14.
Notes: Brevard has gone above and beyond many people’s expectations this football season. Coach Craig Pritchett inherited a program in 2015 that was coming off only its second winless season in school history. Modest gains were made during last year’s 2-9 campaign, but now it’s clear the Blue Devils were planting the seeds for this season. They have even restored some luster to one of WNC’s traditionally-best football rivalries. Brevard is home Friday and looking for its first win over Pisgah since 2011. Blue Devils senior Tanner Ellenberger (1,558 passing yards, 528 rushing yards) has been a part of 36 total touchdowns. Another Tanner, senior Tanner Pettit (820 yards, six touchdowns), is averaging 6.7 yards a carry. Ari Williams has taken charge for the receiving corps with 34 receptions for 659 yards and 11 touchdowns. Others in the mix are Lane Pressley (19 receptions for 294 yards and six touchdowns), Jesse Lowery (16 receptions for 200 yards and five touchdowns) and Nick Cabe (14 receptions for 199 yards and four touchdowns). Ethan Shook now has 122 tackles (or 12.2 per game) and a dozen tackles for a loss, the same figure for stops behind the line of scrimmage as Pettit (7.4). Kyle Williams (7.6), Estevian Benjamin (6.7) and Earon Wilkes (4.7) have been other big contributors. Brevard is looking to grab a piece of its first conference football title since 2007. Pisgah has already clinched a share of the WNCAC championship, its first in the sport since 2010, behind the newest 1,000-yard receiver in WNC – senior Trey Morgan (60 receptions for 1,023 yards and 16 touchdowns). He and Isaiah Fisher (489 rushing yards, 156 receiving yards and nine combined touchdowns) run routes for Tanner Wike (1,383 passing yards, 778 rushing yards and 28 combined touchdowns). Alabama recruit Michael Parrott (850 yards, six touchdowns) is rushing for 85 yards a game. The most active tacklers for the Black Bears are Jeff Albritton (83), Tanner Lanning (72), Houston Rogers (54) and Isaiah Fisher (40).
Pick: Pisgah by 1.
TUSCOLA (9-1, 5-1) at FRANKLIN (6-4, 4-2)
Last week: Tuscola beat East Henderson, 56-0; Franklin beat West Henderson, 21-10.
Last year: Franklin beat Tuscola, 35-21.
Notes: Hard to fathom, but after 51 years of football, and there has never been an offense like this one. Tuscola has already set a single-season record for points (494) after putting 56 more on the scoreboard a week ago. Yards lead to points, and the Mountaineers have got a lot of both from Caleb Ferguson (1,571 rushing yards, 180 receiving yards and 38 combined touchdowns), Roman Jenkins (617 yards, seven touchdowns), Brent Turner (572 yards, three touchdowns), Bailee Ewart (300 yards, three touchdowns) and Grayson Perkins (260 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns). The Tuscola defense is coming off back-to-back shutouts by the same score both times (56-0) with the tackling of Jeremy Jacobs (7.6 a game), Taylor Austin (7.4), Joe Napert (6.4), Dylan Worley (6.2) and Elijah Trantham (6.0). Their task is a tall one Friday in the Panther Pit, not only winning on the road, but shutting down Franklin weapons like Brock Kloeppel (1,716 yards, 29 touchdowns), Andrew Moore (1,440 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions), Bailey Watts (41 receptions for 513 yards and one touchdown) and Jordin Nugent (36 receptions for 547 yards and two touchdowns). Logan Tallent (6.9 tackles per game) leads the way for the defense, followed by Carrington Houston (5.5) and Ethan McCall (4.1).
Pick: Tuscola by 7.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (6-4, 2-4) at NORTH HENDERSON (3-7, 1-5)
Last week: Smoky Mountain lost to Pisgah, 45-40; North Henderson lost to Brevard, 56-0.
Last year: North Henderson beat Smoky Mountain, 31-7.
Notes: Nothing like a little Coffey to perk up an offense. Smoky Mountain sophomore Nate Coffey came off the bench last Friday to pass for 319 yards and nearly help the Mustangs knock off previously-undefeated Pisgah. One of his receivers in the game was Cole Hooper (1,502 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions). For the season, the Mustangs with the most catches are Austin Baumgarner (43 receptions for 670 yards and four touchdowns), Connor Moore (32 receptions for 487 yards and three touchdowns) and Tristen Kenyon (22 receptions for 179 yards and one touchdown). Matthew Ridley (1,369 yards, 11 touchdowns) continues to build on career-best rushing numbers. Kyle Bradley (64 tackles), Moore (56), Gage Kosnik (50), Michael Ashe (45), Hunter Coggins (43) and Devon Stephens (42) are defenders who have put Smoky Mountain on track for potentially its first winning season in 17 years. Their main concerns Friday will be Kalin Ensley (1,402 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 11 combined touchdowns), Darren Lammons (72 receptions for 841 yards and four touchdowns), Miguel Lammons (18 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns) and Colby Thomas (342 rushing yards, 112 receiving yards). Austin Vanhoy is averaging a team-high 7.9 tackles a game.
Pick: Smoky Mountain by 3.
WEST HENDERSON (3-7, 1-5) at EAST HENDERSON (0-10, 0-6)
Last week: West Henderson lost to Franklin, 21-10; East Henderson lost to Tuscola, 56-0.
Last year: West Henderson beat East Henderson, 48-21.
Notes: Week-by week, Henderson County’s only 1,000-yard rusher is building on that honor. West Henderson senior Peyton Frisbee (1,224 yards, 10 touchdowns) ran for 125 last Friday, which was his sixth 100-yard game of the season. Brandon Whitaker (512 rushing yards, 242 passing yards and nine combined touchdowns) and Jason Wallace (248 yards) are other threats for the Falcons, who get most of their tackling from Devin Stepp (5.8 a game), Trenton Gasperson (5.0), Brandon Lovelace (4.8), Landon Owen (4.5), Elijah Nickell (4.4), Jasper Thomas (4.4), Jason Wallace (4.1) and Ricky McKenzie (4.0). East Henderson has been shut out five times after last week’s loss at Tuscola. The Eagles lead this all-time series, 30-28-3.
Pick: West Henderson by 21.
Western Highlands Conference
POLK COUNTY (5-5, 3-2) at HENDERSONVILLE (7-3, 4-1)
Last week: Polk County beat Owen, 16-14; Hendersonville did not play.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Polk County, 34-22.
Notes: What a tangled web we weave in the WHC, again. Hendersonville, Mitchell and Mountain Heritage are favored to win Friday, meaning they could all share the WHC championship for a second consecutive year. The Bearcats have the league’s top passer – Alex Williford (2,047 passing yards, 321 rushing yards and 30 combined touchdowns) and top receiver – fellow junior Tykel Landrum (64 receptions for 1,117 yards and 11 touchdowns). Additional weapons are Ty’rese Hunt (660 yards, 12 touchdowns), Leon Cooks (33 receptions for 542 yards and eight touchdowns) and Demetrius Smith (23 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown). Five players are averaging more than six or more tackles a night – Taerek Daniel (6.9), Shaq Rospel (6.9), Samuel Lucas (6.3), Jhon Salguero (6.2) and Landrum (6.0). Polk County quarterback Dillon Overholt has almost an equal amount of rushing yardage (856) and passing (846) to go along with 17 touchdowns. He has only committed four turnovers. Jaymes Wingo (567 rushing yards, 266 receiving yards and six combined touchdowns), Josh Chupp (20 reception for 279 yards and three touchdowns) and Dillon Knighton (15 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns) are complementary pieces. Chupp also gives the Wolverines a team-high 6.9 tackles per night.
Pick: Hendersonville by 10.
MADISON (5-5, 2-3) at MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (9-1, 4-1)
Last week: Madison lost to Mitchell, 41-35; Mountain Heritage beat Avery County, 57-3.
Last year: Mountain Heritage beat Madison, 40-10.
Notes: Multi-dimensional quarterbacks are becoming the norm in high school football. Locally-speaking, Madison and Mountain Heritage have two of the best in Patriots senior Colby Edwards (1,751 passing yards, 1,057 rushing yards and 31 combined touchdowns) and Cougars junior Trey Robinson (1,278 rushing yards, 1,072 passing yards and 32 combined touchdowns). Edwards has stepped up his rushing in recent weeks after an injury to Derek Gonzalez (730 yards, four touchdowns) and his favorite receivers have been Dawson Coates (55 receptions for 670 yards and eight touchdowns) and Elan Littrell (47 receptions for 618 yards and three touchdowns). The Patriots get their defensive punch from Logan Roberts (10.5 tackles per game), Dakota Surrett (9.3), Keegan Foley (8.7) and Austin Shelton (8.7). Robinson is a 1,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher for the second straight season, justifying his selection as the WHC’s preseason player of the year. His cohorts on offense include Junior Denton (1,179 yards, 11 touchdowns), Justin Keener (413 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Cole Burleson (307 yards, five touchdowns). Adam Shuford (15.1 tackles a game), Corey Presnell (11.1) and Dathan Robinson (10.2) have taken charge for the defense. Mountain Heritage leads this all-time series, 31-12.
Pick: Mountain Heritage by 7.
MITCHELL (9-1, 4-1) at AVERY COUNTY (3-7, 1-4)
Last week: Mitchell beat Madison, 41-35; Avery County lost to Mountain Heritage, 57-3.
Last year: Mitchell beat Avery County, 47-13.
Notes: Mitchell’s quarterback is a keeper all right. Mountaineers junior Ben Young (1,554 passing yards, 912 rushing yards and 28 combined touchdowns) showed his ability to stay composed in the pocket, as well as run outside it with 393 yards of offense last Friday in Marshall. Young’s backup in the run game for the Mountaineers has been Ben Robinson (648 yards, seven touchdowns), Noah Pitman (319 yards, three touchdowns) and Landon Miller (308 yards, eight touchdowns). Brody Smith (31 receptions for 760 yards and eight touchdowns), Alex McKinney (19 receptions for 279 yards and five touchdowns) and Jesse Pitman (14 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown) have tracked down most of Young’s passes. Leading the way on the other side of the ball are Robinson (7.4 tackles per game), Trevor Self (6.6) and McKinnney (6.2). Christian Hicks (694 passing yards, 167 rushing yards and 14 combined touchdowns) didn’t start out the season as Avery County’s quarterback, but he has thrived with the help of Brett Smith (50 receptions for 603 yards and nine touchdowns), Andy Dominguez (19 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns), Steven Sanchez (418 yards, three touchdowns) and Sam McCollum (388 yards, one touchdown). The Vikings defense had fed off of Blake Williams (6.4 tackles per game), Cole Singleton (5.4), Sanchez (5.3) and Josh McClellan (4.4). Avery County leads this all-time series, 23-20-1.
Pick: Mitchell by 35.
Smoky Mountain Conference
MURPHY (9-1, 5-0) at ROSMAN (2-8, 0-5)
Last week: Murphy beat Swain County, 35-3; Rosman beat Trinity Christian (Tenn.), 33-14.
Last year: Murphy beat Rosman, 21-6 and 28-27 in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
Notes: Landslide victory. In this election year, there is no other way to describe what Joey Curry and Murphy have done to the race for the SMC championship. Curry (1,210 yards and 14 touchdowns with no interceptions) threw for four more touchdowns last Friday. His favorite receivers have been Colton Posey (34 receptions for 532 yards and seven touchdowns) and Travis Seabolt (12 receptions for 212 yards and four touchdowns). Kadrian McRae (509 yards, 11 touchdowns) suffered a knee injury a week ago in pregame walkthroughs, but if he is limited, the Bulldogs have other capable rushers in Slade McTaggart (458 yards, six touchdowns) and Riley Blalock (301 yards, seven touchdowns). Top tacklers for Murphy are Adam Powell (82), McTaggart (70), Cody Cantrell (61), Chase Roberts (58) and Cory Farmer (56). Rosman got back on the winning track a week ago with three touchdown runs from Neil Tesnow (470 yards). Tesnow is second in rushing to Tanner Whitman (524 rushing yards, 290 receiving yards and four combined touchdowns) and they get their handoffs from Luke Stewart (870 yards and four touchdowns with seven interceptions). Will Partin’s 7.7 tackles per game are the most for the Transylvania County team, followed by Tesnow (4.8).
Pick: Murphy by 21.
HAYESVILLE (2-7, 2-3) at CHEROKEE (6-4, 3-2)
Last week: Hayesville beat Andrews, 27-14; Cherokee beat Robbinsville, 25-18.
Last year: Cherokee beat Hayesville, 45-28.
Notes: Like a lot of places, change hasn’t come overnight at Cherokee. But there is no doubt it has come. The Braves and third-year coach Kent Briggs have already won their most football games since 2009 and will bring a three-game winning streak into Senior Night. Tye Mintz (1,262 passing yards, 678 rushing yards and 19 combined touchdowns) has run the show for the Cherokee offense with assistance from Isaiah Evans (785 yards, 14 touchdowns), Cade Mintz (31 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns) and Holden Straughan (30 receptions for 328 yards and four touchdowns). Cherokee beat two-time defending SMC champion Robbinsville by a touchdown last Friday. Defenders who have played a key role this season are Straughan (63 tackles) and Joaquin Gabriel Layno (50). Briggs coached Western Carolina University from 2002 to 2007 and came on board at Cherokee in 2014. Hayesville has been led by Alan Gillis (831 passing yards, 722 rushing yards and 17 combined touchdowns), Payton Krieger (23 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns) and Brian Smith (23 receptions for 269 yards and one touchdown). Devin Boykin (7.4 tackles per game) has headed up the defense along with Thomas Cothren (6.9). Cherokee leads this all-time series, 28-24-1.
Pick: Cherokee by 14.
ROBBINSVILLE (4-5, 3-2) at SWAIN COUNTY (4-6, 4-1)
Last week: Robbinsville lost to Cherokee, 25-18; Swain County lost to Murphy, 35-3.
Last year: Robbinsville beat Swain County, 22-7.
Notes: Proud programs and proud conferences don’t stay down for long. So this season is a sub .500 blip for both Robbinsville and Swain County. The Maroon Devils and Brodie Bowman (1,159 passing yards, 363 rushing yards and 13 combined touchdowns) have won four out of their last five games with the junior directing his throws to Brier Younce (29 receptions for 480 yards and five touchdowns) and Seth Parker (24 receptions for 491 yards and four touchdowns). Keshaun Beaner (381 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Chris Miller (372 yards, four touchdowns) are neck-and-neck in rushing. Wren Gunter (7.3 tackles per game), Will Paul (4.4), Dawson Lowe (4.1) and Logan Loftis (4.0) have shored up the Swain County defense. Robbinsville and the tandem of Ian Wiggins (571 yards, two touchdowns) and Colby Hemphill (606 yards, seven touchdowns) still have a chance to create a tie for second place in the SMC. Chandler Jumper (22 receptions for 406 yards and four touchdowns) remains the top receiver for Alex Bridges (668 passing yards, 155 rushing yards and 11 combined touchdowns) and Elijah Wachacha (94 yards and none touchdown with one interception). Wachacha played some quarterback a week ago, and also leads the Graham County team in tackling (8.1 a game), followed by A.J. Ornelas (6.9), Landon Orr (5.9), Baylee Hall (5.8) and Cameron Black (5.0). Swain County leads this all-time series, 32-25-2.
Pick: Swain County by 7.
No. 7 ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (5-3) at No. 2 TRINITY CHRISTIAN (8-1), 6 p.m.
The winner plays: No. 6 Northside Christian (6-4) or No. 3 Statesville Christian (9-2).
Notes: Too much of a good thing? Asheville School and Ahmad Galimore (1,175 yards and 14 touchdowns with seven interceptions) had been paired with arch rival Christ School each of the past two years in the first round of the NCISAA Division II playoffs. With the Blues going to a separate division this fall, that is no longer an issue. Galimore is putting up 146.9 yards per game and surpassed 1,000 yards in Saturday’s regular-season finale loss to the Greenies (a 47-16 game played in Arden). He has distributed the ball to Rashad Morrison (45 receptions for 591 yards), Titus Morrison (16 receptions for 267 yards and one touchdown) and J.P. Schill (11 receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown). Fisher Howard (433 yards, four touchdowns) has been the primary rushing threat. Schill and Chris Amoroso share the team lead in tackles (8.4 a game). With Brandon Adams (7.1 tackles per game and 13 sacks) roaming around, Trinity Christian has only allowed 82 points this season. The school is based out of Fayetteville.
Pick: Trinity Christian by 14.
– Compiled by staff writer Andrew Pearson