Unless noted, all kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.
Mountain Athletic Conference
ASHEVILLE (2-4, 0-1) at ENKA (2-5, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Last week: Asheville lost to Reynolds, 34-16; Enka lost to Erwin, 69-24.
Last year: Asheville beat Enka, 55-7.
Notes: Asheville High senior Devon Davidson is so much more than a silver lining. Even in a down year for the Cougars, their quarterback went over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season last Friday. Davidson (1,067 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions) has completed 57 percent of his throws and now has 2,699 career yards, which places him among the top-five passers in school history. Receivers tracking down those balls are Makaius Brewer (37 receptions for 455 yards and two touchdowns), Dana Campbell (21 receptions for 215 yards) and DeAndre Gaskin (12 receptions for 135 yards). Ahmad Shivers (441 yards, eight touchdowns) has kept opponents honest with his rushing. The defense has followed the lead of Taquandre Bates (10.7 tackles per game), Micah Robertson (7.0), Corey Clement (6.4), Kaejan Griffin (6.1), Taevon Edgerton (5.6) and Andrew Leota (5.4). Enka quarterback Avery Holbrook (977 passing yards, 299 rushing yards and 14 combined touchdowns) is on the verge of throwing for his 1,000th yard with a batch of receivers that includes Donyelle Gaines (19 receptions for 252 yards), Will Redmon (14 receptions for 224 yards and four touchdowns), Seth Phillips (14 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown) and Chase Bennett (14 receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown). The Jets’ defense has been buoyed by Zane Turner (7.2 tackles per game), Walker Brown (6.0), Holbrook (4.8) and Chase Bennett (4.6). Asheville leads this all-time series by a definitive 35-5 margin.
Pick: Asheville by 24.
ERWIN (3-4, 1-1) at MCDOWELL (4-3, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Last week: Erwin beat Enka, 69-24; McDowell beat North Buncombe, 37-3.
Last year: Erwin beat McDowell, 34-23.
Notes: Erwin senior Damien Ferguson is only in competition with himself now. Ferguson (7,918 yards) left the Western North Carolina record for career passing (7,895) in the dust last Friday. His 2,328 yards this season are the most in the state, according to MaxPreps. Ferguson (who also has 26 touchdowns and six interceptions) has potentially four more regular-season games and the NCHSAA playoffs to become the first mountain quarterback with 8,000 or 9,000, maybe even 10,000 yards. Five of Ferguson’s receivers have made 20 or more catches — C.J. Thompson (53 receptions for 849 yards and 14 touchdowns), Trey Martin (37 receptions for 537 yards and five touchdowns), Kealin Goode (33 receptions for 376 yards and four touchdowns), Isaiah Poore (23 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns) and Bryan Anuel (21 receptions for 186 yards). Poore (620 yards, 13 touchdowns) has rushed for 345 yards and eight touchdowns the past two weeks. Defenders who stand out for the Warriors are Chris McDonald (7.7 tackles per game), Alex McGlothlin (6.1), Kendell Dover (6.0) and Jackson Gouge (5.0). Under first-year coach Andy Morgan, McDowell has already matched its number of wins from 2015. Ben Ballew (896 yards and six touchdowns with 11 interceptions) has spread the ball around to Chase Justice (27 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns), Tyler Banks (19 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown) and Dakota Effler (13 receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown). McDowell’s defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown two out of the past three weeks and keys on Damon McNeely (6.7 tackles per game), Kaali Tobe (5.8), Ricky Amador (5.6), Adam Randolph (5.3) and Micah Detwiler (4.6).
Pick: Erwin by 21.
NORTH BUNCOMBE (0-7, 0-2) at ROBERSON (5-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: North Buncombe lost to McDowell, 37-3; Roberson did not play.
Last year: North Buncombe beat Roberson, 27-24.
Notes: Is Roberson for real? The Rams and Ty Gossett (1,256 yards and nine touchdowns with nine interceptions) are the surprise team in the MAC so far. And they won their conference opener with ease — 49-14 at McDowell on Sept. 23. Gossett, who is a sophomore, is WNC’s youngest 1,000-yard passer at the moment with the help of Barshia Young (20 receptions for 365 yards and four touchdowns), Micah Jenkins (19 receptions for 384 yards and two touchdowns) and Bryson Case (12 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown). Lejuan Rush (279 yards, seven touchdowns) has given the team 7.3 yards per carry. Shrine Bowl lineman Dayquan Watkins has made 20 pancake blocks. Fellow senior Orion Dunbar has a dozen. Logan Wells (16.0 tackles per game) continues to set the tone for the defense along with Greg Johnston (10.5), Zach Myers (10.2), Jordan McNeill (9.2), Kai Anthony (5.3) and Seth Rowe (5.0). Johnston’s 12.5 sacks are the third-most in the state, according to MaxPreps. North Buncombe junior Johnny Laws’ 31-yard field goal was the only points scored by his football team a week ago. Nick Lisenbee (648 yards, seven touchdowns) added 113 more yards to his season total for rushing. Caden Higgins (289 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions) and Connor Davis (178 yards and no touchdowns with six interceptions) are sharing time at quarterback with Blake Mathews (27 receptions for 237 yards and one touchdown) as their No. 1 target. Six of Dakota Vosburg’s team-high 43 tackles have been for a loss. Matthews and Jacob Villemagne are second for the Black Hawks with 29 tackles apiece.
Pick: Roberson by 28.
Western North Carolina Athletic Conference
PISGAH (6-0, 2-0) at WEST HENDERSON (3-3, 1-1)
Last week: Pisgah beat Franklin, 29-23; West Henderson lost to Smoky Mountain, 41-7.
Last year: West Henderson beat Pisgah, 16-12.
Notes: Imagine the pandemonium that will be stirring next week in Canton if Pisgah and Tuscola are both still undefeated. Not so fast. To make such a scenario happen, both sides of the Haywood County rivalry have to beat opponents they lost to in 2015. Now in his fourth year at Pisgah, coach Brett Chappell achieved his 100th career win last Friday. Tanner Wike (662 passing yards, 447 rushing yards and 18 combined touchdowns) threw for 107 yards and three touchdowns, with Trey Morgan (32 receptions for 538 yards and 12 touchdowns) accounting for 104 yards and all three scores. Alabama recruit Michael Parrott (529 yards, four touchdowns) rushed for 56 yards and one touchdown. The Black Bears and Isaiah Fisher (224 yards, two touchdowns) are 6-0 for the first time in a decade. Their foremost defenders are Tanner Lanning (7.8), Jeff Albritton (7.8), Houston Rogers (6.0) and Fisher (4.5). West Henderson and Peyton Frisbee (919 yards, 10 touchdowns) are coming off their most lopsided loss in three years. Brandon Whitaker (345 rushing yards, 206 passing yards and eight combined touchdowns) is the other main piece of the offense. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons get their strength from Devin Stepp (6.0 tackles a game) Elijah Nickell (5.4), Trenton Gasperson (4.5), Jake Ogren (4.3), Jason Wallace (4.0) and Brandon Lovelace (4.0)
Pick: Pisgah by 7.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN (5-1, 1-1) at FRANKLIN (2-4, 0-2)
Last week: Smoky Mountain beat West Henderson, 41-7; Franklin lost to Pisgah, 29-23.
Last year: Franklin beat Smoky Mountain, 21-7.
Notes: Hard to believe, but it’s Week 8 and there is still not a 1,000-yard rusher in WNC football. Smoky Mountain’s Matthew Ridley (995 yards, seven touchdowns) is knocking on the door. Fellow senior Cole Hooper (1,069 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions) is one of eight mountain quarterbacks who have passed for 1,000 yards and has relied on the hands of Austin Baumgarner (25 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns), Tristen Kenyon (18 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown), Connor Moore (15 receptions for 273 yards and two touchdowns) and Tyler Waliezer (11 receptions for 90 yards). Kyle Bradley has made a team-high 43 tackles and other key pieces of the defense are Michael Ashe (34), Moore (34), Devon Stephens (29), Hunter Coggins (27), Gage Kosnik (24) and Cody Lominac (24). It’s weird to see Franklin with two conference losses in October. One way to get things back to normal is extending its dominance in this Cowee Mountain rivalry. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 20-8, and haven’t lost to Smoky Mountain since 2007. Franklin junior Andrew Moore passed for a career-high 256 yards last Friday, becoming a 1,000-yard quarterback for the first time in his varsity career. Moore (1,020 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions) has distributed the ball to a receiving corps which includes Jordin Nugent (28 receptions for 363 yards), Bailey Watts (27 receptions for 370 yards and one touchdown) and Brock Kloeppel (nine receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns). Grant Stiles and Dillon Daves each make a team-high 4.8 tackles per game. Logan Tallent (4.7) and Zach Delacruz (4.2) are not far behind.
Pick: Franklin by 1.
EAST HENDERSON (0-6, 0-2) at BREVARD (4-2, 1-1)
Last week: East Henderson lost to North Henderson, 25-0; Brevard lost to Tuscola, 42-6.
Last year: East Henderson beat Brevard, 31-28.
Notes: Everyone has double vision in Transylvania County. If the season ended today, Brevard and Tanner Ellenberger (990 passing yards, 250 rushing yards and 19 combined touchdowns) have already won twice as many games as they did in 2015. Ellenberger’s favorite receivers have been Ari Williams (20 receptions for 415 yards and six touchdowns), Lane Pressley (14 receptions for 227 yards and four touchdowns) and Nick Cabe (10 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns). Tanner Pettit has carried much of the rushing load with 458 yards and three touchdowns). He is second in tackles (7.7 per game) behind Ethan Shook (13.2). Kyle Williams (6.8), Jesse Lowery (5.7) and Earon Wilkes (4.7) are other active tacklers. East Henderson was shut out for the third time last Friday and has only scored 33 points in six games. Jake Shattuck led the Eagles with 47 rushing yards against North Henderson.
Pick: Brevard by 28.
TUSCOLA (6-0, 2-0) at NORTH HENDERSON (3-3, 1-1)
Last week: Tuscola beat Brevard, 42-6; North Henderson beat East Henderson, 25-0.
Last year: North Henderson beat Tuscola, 17-14.
Notes: North Henderson sophomore Kalin Ensley already had the athletic ability. Week-by-week, the young quarterback adds maturity to the mix, too. Ensley (780 passing yards, 381 rushing yards and seven combined touchdowns) accounted for 229 yards last Friday. Darren Lammons (41 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns) and Colby Thomas (242 rushing yards and nine receptions for 71 yards) are two other big weapons on offense. The Knights defense takes its cues from Kingston Thomas (6.8 tackles per game), Mikey Smithers (6.4) and Austin Vanhoy (6.2). Their assignment Friday is a brutal one – Caleb Ferguson (866 rushing yards, 138 receiving yards and 24 combined touchdowns) and Tuscola are scoring 51.3 points per game and their average margin of victory is 37.0 points. MaxPreps only has Ferguson listed with 23 touchdowns, which is still the third-highest total in the state. Other cogs in the Mountaineers’ triple-option attack are Grayson Perkins (358 passing yards, 172 rushing yards and 10 combined touchdowns), Brent Turner (394 yards, three touchdowns), Roman Jenkins (369 yards, two touchdowns) and Bailee Ewart (155 yards, one touchdown). Tuscola has only given up 20 points in its last three games and players directly responsible for that are Taylor Austin (8.0 tackles per game), Jeremy Jacobs (7.3), Dylan Worley (7.2), Elijah Trantham (5.8), Ewart (5.3), Ferguson (5.3) and John Medford (5.0).
Pick: Tuscola by 14.
Western Highlands Conference
MOUNTAIN HERITAGE (6-1, 1-1) at OWEN (1-5, 0-2)
Last week: Mountain Heritage beat Polk County, 36-21; Owen lost to Mitchell, 47-23.
Last year: Mountain Heritage beat Owen, 50-3.
Notes: Adam Shuford puts the aggression in the Mountain Heritage defense. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior is the first WNC player to make more than 100 tackles this season. Shuford has 104 total stops (12 for a loss) and is averaging 14.9, up from his 11.1 in 2015, after last Friday’s 16-tackle performance. Other defensive leaders for the Cougars are Corey Presnell (11.1 tackles a game), Dathan Robinson (9.9), Seth Randolph (9.6), Kane McCandless (9.3) and Dawson Branton (7.9). Junior Denton (880 yards, eight touchdowns) is one big game away from a 1,000-yard season, as is Trey Robinson (874 rushing yards, 776 passing yards and 21 combined touchdowns). Owen sophomore Kendrick Weaver (620 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions) passed for a season-high 179 yards last Friday. His receiving corps includes Tyler Sexton (15 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns) and Waleed Kahlil (10 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown). Cyrus Hooper (324 yards, four touchdowns) has been responsible for more than half the Swannanoa Valley team’s 616 rushing yards. Alex Huntsinger and Antonio McDowell each average 6.2 tackles per game. Kaleb Woods (5.2), Otis Mallory (4.7) and Jadon Watson (4.5) are close behind.
Pick: Mountain Heritage by 21.
HENDERSONVILLE (5-2, 2-0) at AVERY COUNTY (3-3, 1-0)
Last week: Hendersonville beat Madison, 66-31; Avery County did not play.
Last year: Hendersonville beat Avery County, 37-30.
Notes: Friend or foe, throw the football in Tykel Landrum’s direction and it’s bound to be caught. The Hendersonville junior and former All-WNC receiver is once again among the mountains’ top players in that offensive category with 45 catches for 847 yards and seven touchdowns. Landrum also moonlights as an above-average defensive back – he is No. 1 in MaxPreps’ statewide statistics for interceptions (seven) after a couple pick-sixes last Friday. Landrum is averaging 6.6 tackles a night. Fellow junior Alex Williford (1,436 yards and 13 touchdowns with nine interceptions) remains the top passer in the WHC with Landrum, Leon Cooks (25 receptions for 370 yards and five touchdowns) and Demetrius Smith (19 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown) making catches. Ty’rese Hunt (481 yards, seven touchdowns) is only a sophomore. Taerek Daniel (8.0 tackles per game) heads up the defense along with Blaine Sharpe (7.9), Samuel Lucas (6.3), Jhon Salguero (6.3) and Shawn Pearce (6.1). Kicker Drew Eudy has made all three of his field-goal attempts with a long of 37 yards. Avery County hasn’t played since a 34-20 win at Owen on Sept. 23. The Vikings have rattled off three straight wins with Christian Hicks (368 passing yards, 126 rushing yards and eight combined touchdowns) at quarterback. Steven Sanchez (243 yards, two touchdowns), Brett Smith (22 receptions for 280 yards and five touchdowns) and Andy Dominguez (14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns) are other names to know. Sanchez and Blake Williams share the team lead for tackles (5.8 a game).
Pick: Hendersonville by 17.
Smoky Mountain Conference
ANDREWS (2-5, 1-1) at MURPHY (6-1, 2-0)
Last week: Andrews beat Rosman, 7-0; Murphy beat Robbinsville, 49-7.
Last year: Murphy beat Andrews, 14-7.
Notes: Five straight wins is a nice streak. Especially when a football team is doing it in the same manner as Murphy and Joey Curry (902 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions). The Bulldogs were No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press NCHSAA 1-A poll and have outscored their opponents, 211-27, since the streak began on Sept. 2. Colton Posey (28 receptions for 481 yards and six touchdowns) has 20 more catches than any other Murphy receiver, while Kadrian McRae (331 yards, seven touchdowns) and Slade McTaggart (253 yards, four touchdowns) are first and second in rushing. Defensive standouts are Adam Powell (7.6 tackles per game), Slade McTaggart (6.6), Cory Farmer (5.9), Cody Cantrell (5.7) and Chase Roberts (5.1). Murphy leads the all-time series with Andrews, 55-6. A 1-yard quarterback keeper by Wildcats junior Matt Barton (262 passing yards, 142 rushing yards and four combined touchdowns) was the only points scored in Andrews’ win last week at Rosman. Andrew Horton (258 yards) and Mitchell McGaha (125 yards) have given Barton support with their rushing.
Pick: Murphy by 28.
ROSMAN (1-5, 0-2) at ROBBINSVILLE (2-4, 1-1)
Last week: Rosman lost to Andrews, 7-0; Robbinsville lost to Murphy, 49-7.
Last year: Robbinsville beat Rosman, 37-29.
Notes: Appreciate it while it lasts. Robbinsville and Colby Hemphill (418 yards, five touchdowns) went two years without a conference loss before last Friday. Hemphill and Ian Wiggins (323 yards) are the two biggest pieces of the Black Knights’ backfield and their quarterback is Alex Bridges (401 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions). Chandler Jumper (14 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns) has emerged as the receiving leader, while the defense relies on Elijah Wachacha (8.3 tackles per game), Landon Orr (6.5) and Issiah Bradley (6.2). Rosman suffered its first shutout loss in five years a week ago. Tanner Whitman (461 yards, three touchdowns) and Luke Stewart (414 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions) have been offensive standouts for the Tigers, while their defense is led by Will Partin (7.2 tackles per game), Neil Tesnow (6.3) and Chandon Dotson (4.5).
Pick: Robbinsville by 7.
SWAIN COUNTY (1-5, 1-0) at CHEROKEE (3-3, 0-1)
Last week: Swain County beat Hayesville, 55-26; Cherokee did not play.
Last year: Swain County beat Cherokee, 28-0.
Notes: Something had to give at Swain County after the program’s third 0-5 start in school history. Fortunately for the Maroon Devils, it wasn’t them. Keshaun Beaner (283 yards, nine touchdowns) ran for a season-high 101 yards last Friday and the junior scored four touchdowns off just nine carries. His quarterback, Brodie Bowman (728 yards and three touchdowns with one interception), completed a pair of touchdown passes to Brier Younce (20 receptions for 265 yards and two touchdowns) and added a third TD on a 6-yard keeper. The defense has banked on Wren Gunter (7.2 tackles per game), Logan Loftis (4.8) and Dawson Lowe (4.0). Cherokee’s Tye Mintz (768 passing yards, 295 rushing yards and eight combined touchdowns) suffered a concussion in the Braves’ last game – a 42-13 loss at Murphy on Sept. 23. Mintz ranks second in Cherokee rushing behind Isaiah Evans (357 yards, seven touchdowns) and has directed most of this throws to Holden Straughan (15 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns), Cade Mintz (14 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns), Shane Swimmer (14 receptions for 140 yards) and Anthony Toineeta (12 receptions for 247 yards and four touchdowns). Toineeta, who is a former state champion wrestler, leads the way with 8.0 tackles per game, followed by Straughan (7.2) and Damion Blanton (4.0). Swain County leads this all-time series, 42-8, and hasn’t lost to Cherokee since 2008.
Pick: Swain County by 1.
ASHEVILLE SCHOOL (3-2) vs. CAROLINA GLADIATORS (0-6), 7 p.m.
Last week: Asheville School lost to Rabun Gap (Ga.), 29-28; Carolina Gladiators lost to Franklin Christian, 40-0.
Last year: Asheville School beat Carolina Gladiators, 62-0.
Notes: Friday Night Lights aren’t for everyone. Thirty-one high schools in WNC play football, and Asheville School is the only one which does not have a lighted field. Memorial Stadium in downtown Asheville is the next best thing even though this is technically a home game for the Buncombe County-based Carolina Gladiators. Blues junior Ahmad Galimore (778 passing yards, 144 rushing yards and 13 combined touchdowns) has taken the helm of the Asheville School offense this autumn and run with it. Rashad Morrison (24 receptions for 368 yards and seven touchdowns) and Titus Morrison (12 receptions for 184 yards and one touchdown) have been Galimore’s safety valves. Fisher Howard (291 yards, three touchdowns) is another valued rushing option. J.P Schill (8.4 tackles per game), Chris Amoroso (8.2), Morrison (6.3) have shored up the defense.
Pick: Asheville School by 14.
CHRIST SCHOOL (5-1) at FIRST ASSEMBLY CHRISTIAN (6-1), 7 p.m.
Last week: Christ School beat Statesville Christian, 34-7; First Assembly Christian beat Village Christian, 51-21.
Last year: Christ School beat First Assembly Christian, 46-34.
Notes: Nothing ingratiates a new guy to his teammates like averaging 9.3 tackles per game. Christ School junior Seth Griswold is doing just that, a year after earning All-WNC honors at linebacker for Roberson. Other big contributors on defense for the Greenies are Carson Jones (7.2), Sage Holley (6.5) and Ross Oakley (5.2). Senior Drew Johnson (1,564 passing yards, 164 rushing yards and 16 combined touchdowns) is the engine that makes the offense go along with Keyvaun Cobb (37 receptions for 348 yards and six touchdowns), Jared Letman-Gash (24 receptions for 331 yards and eight touchdowns), Kokayi Cobb (409 receiving yards, 218 rushing yards and four combined touchdowns), Gabe Blevins (16 receptions for 215 yards and one touchdown), Tyler Redmond (12 receptions for 213 yards and three touchdowns) and Kevin Snyder (12 receptions for 95 yards). First Assembly, which is based out of Concord, puts up 205.9 passing yards a game with Josh Orean (676 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions) and Seth Sturdivant (685 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions).
Pick: Christ School by 1.