Allen sounds trap game warning bell
Every high school football team that has an arch-rival circles that date of the game when the schedules are released.
Each Friday night leading up to the rivalry, the first score players, coaches and fans want to know is of their rival.
Sometimes and maybe most times, as the excitement builds for that game circled on the claendar, a football team neglects to focus on the opponent they play the Friday before the the annual gridiron battle with their rival.
That’s one definition of a trap game.
And for the Tuscola varsity football team (5-1, 2-0 WNCAC), which has a realistic chance of going undefeated in the WNC Athletic Conference, tonight’s homecoming game with visiting North Henderson is the perfect trap.
The Knights, which are 2-0 in the WNCAC and 3-3 overall, fall at a very inconvenient time on the Mountaineers’ schedule with their annual game with Pisgah looming in a week. That’s why Tuscola Head Coach Brandon Allen has sounded the trap game warning bells all week in practice.
“I’ve told the team that North Henderson is 3-3 but could potentially be 6-0 with a break here and there,” said Allen. “They have been in every game they had an opportunity to win every game. I also emphasized North’s 3-3 record is misleading. But North’s 2-0 conference isn’t misleading. They are tied with us and Franklin for first place.
“From what we have seen, North Henderson is extremely well coached, physical, and have very aggressive linebackers. I can’t say enough good things about North both offensively and defensively. They run the ball well and their tailback runs hard. North’s sophomore quarterback (Craft) has done a tremendous job stepping in for (Zach) Gahagen, who went down earlier this year with an injury. I’m not going to say they haven’t lost a step considering what an outstanding athlete Gahagen is, but Craft has stepped in and done just a fine job for them. He’s not far behind, and is going to be one of the special players for North Henderson down the road.
“So we got our hands full (tonight) and if we don’t show up and play well, we could be in for a long night. It’s one of those games where there is a lot at stake. It’s homecoming, it’s a big conference game, it’s a game between two good teams in first place and it’s going to be a big test for us.”
So, what about Pisgah? Coach Allen dispels the thought his Mountaineers will get caught in a trap game looking ahead to the 50th meeting of the County Clash.
“We know people are going to talk about a so called trap game,” said Allen. “But the reality is our kids haven’t even talked about Pisgah. We know what Pisgah’s got, and what a tremendous football program they have, and that coach Chappell has done a great job and they got a great group of kids. But our focus is not on Pisgah right now, and won’t be until Saturday morning. Pisgah is going to be there and we know that.
“We are playing North Henderson and if we overlook them we are going to be in trouble. This is a game we are going to have to go in and play our best game in order to win.”
The Tuscola-North Henderson series has a short history as the Mountaineers have won two of the last three meetings.
However, the Knights’ only victory came in 2011 (16-14) at Weatherby Stadium. The Mountaineers won at North Henderson, 43-28, in 2010, and 17-7 last season.
Tuscola’s ground and pound in front of a large homecoming crowd should take its toll on the Knights.
And if it doesn’t, quarterback Woody Cornwell and the Mountaineers’ passing attack sure will.
It’s will be close and hotly-contested for four quarters. But Tuscola will pull it out in the end to avoid the trap.
Then, the Mountaineers can start planning for arch-rival Pisgah.
North Henderson 21