By Pete Zamplas
West Henderson and Hendersonville both won homecoming football contests, but then last Friday fate for each went haywire in Haywood County.
West, came within one point of a road upset over fourth place Tuscola (6-3; 4-2) in the 3A WMAC. A missed extra point kept West from tying the game, and the game ended with that 28-27 score. The game was knotted at 14, at the half. West then led took a 21-14 lead, on quarterback Jordan Geyer’s one-yard keeper.
West previously won two straight with shutouts — by 41-0 at Enka then 36-0 over North, when scoring all points in the first half ahead of homecoming ceremonies. West (4-5; 2-4 WMAC) closes with frontrunner Reynolds (7-1; 5-0) at home this Friday, then at third-place Asheville (5-4; 4-2). ACR beat AHS 37-14 last Friday. Asheville’s earlier 37-6 win at Tuscola breaks those two teams’ tie for third place.
Volleyball fans had much to cheer about on the hardcourt last week, however, as two teams won tourney titles. West swept A.C. Reynolds in three games on Oct. 18, to win the WMAC’s tourney and claim its number one playoff seed. These two dynastic teams had split in the regular season, to tie atop the conference. East Lady Eagles, seeded second in the Mountain Six (M6), knocked off top seed Brevard in four games.
The Bear Trap Classic in football was in Canton Oct. 19. It was not the night for “cats” as in HHS Bearcats. Plain ‘ole Bears — the Pisgah Black Bears — pulled away to win 52-17. Pisgah struggled a week earlier, trailing East Henderson early before prevailing 29-15. The Black Bears were at their mauling best last Friday.
Meanwhile, East fell 43-14 to Franklin. The Eagles (5-4) look for their first M6 victory this Friday at Smoky Mountain, and to seal a winning season. They close at Hendersonville, on Nov. 2. North Henderson scored its most points thus far (21), but gave up 55 to visiting Roberson on Friday. North goes to second place Erwin Friday, then closes with a very winnable match at home against also-winless Enka Nov. 2. Erwin (7-1; 5-1) demolished Enka 49-7 Friday.
That was also the score as Edneyville native David Gentry won his 400th game, as his Murphy Bulldogs demolished arch-rival Swain.
Coach Brett Chappell, who took East Eagles to great heights last decade, now is in the Mountain Six driver’s seat after his Pisgah Bears avenged a loss to HHS in 2017. Pisgah is now 8-1 overall, and the sole M6 team unbeaten at 3-0.
HHS (5-4), dropped its M6 opener 17-14 at Franklin and at 1-2 is already out of contention for a share of the M6 title. The Cats retain hopes of making the playoffs, then putting on a postseason run.
The M6 title and top seed is likely at stake this Friday between the two usual frontrunners, with Pisgah at Franklin. The Panthers (6-3) are 2-1 in M6 battles after beating East, and are formidable at home where they have not lost to Pisgah in over a dozen years. This may be the time. FHS looked vulnerable when blasted 55-7, by Brevard (7-2) two games ago. BHS (7-2) is also 2-1, after the Devils were smoked last Friday by Smoky (6-3; 1-2).
Brevard Blue Devils host HHS, which can bedevil BHS out of contention, then close at home versus Pisgah with hopes to forge a tie atop the conference. Last year, HHS easily beat BHS twice including in playoffs but Brevard has even more to gain this time.
Leading HHS rusher Ty’rese Hunt bounced outside to score on a six-yard run Friday, as HHS took an early 7-3 lead at Pisgah. Hunt made a huge play late in the opening half, as a defensive end. His crunching hit produced a fumble. Caleb Greene was “Caleb (not Johnny) on the spot.” He scooped up the loose ball, and zoomed 31 yards into the end zone. This play gave HHS life, cutting the score to 24-14.
However, Pisgah answered to regain momentum with a trick scoring play in the first half’s final minute. Tanner Wike, the PHS quarterback for the past two years, is now the top receiver. But Coach Chappell vowed preseason Wike would get in some key passes, and he has in most games. Against HHS Wike took a lateral from sophomore QB Korey Griffith, then heaved a 47-yard bomb to Devan Dodgin.
That seemed to take the remaining steam out of the visitors. It put PHS back up by 17. Jackson Carter’s last-second field goal cut it to 31-17 at halftime. But Pisgah shut out HHS 21-0 in the second half.
Griffith threw for three TDs, and ran for two more. Jon Mehaffey ran for 153 yards and a 24-yard TD, and set up another score with his own long (25-yard) fumble return. Eric Robinson and Wike each ran for about 60 yards. As Coach Chappell noted, PHS used Bearcat defensive speed to its advantage with misdirection runs.
Line play was decisive, HHS head coach Jim Sosebee agreed, while turnovers bit HHS with three of them in a four-minute span in the first half.
Pisgah’s fierce front four is a game wrecker, led by burly Terran Brown and lanky Kam Walker. The 17 points HHS managed are the most points Pisgah has yielded in eight wins. Walker, also a tight end, is heading to N.C. State. He and Reynolds blocker C.J. Elmonus, a Wake Forest commit, last week were chosen to play for N.C. versus S.C. in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Dec. 15.
Fate differed last year, when HHS defeated Pisgah 35-29 by blocking a field goal — Kalin Ensley returned it for the winning score.
Hendersonville’s 41-28 homecoming win over Smoky on Oct. 12 was its sole win in the last five games. Call him “Nat King Cole,” like the historic singer. Cole McMurray was chosen as HHS homecoming king at halftime, then ran for two TDs. The first was a 61-yarder. McMurray, a senior, is the heart of the defense and among rugged runners.