Black Bears hunting for a homecoming victory
CANTON — The Pisgah varsity football players must be tough as nails, given their response immediately after a heartbreaking 14-13 loss at Franklin last week.
“I don’t think (the loss) will affect us going forward,” said quarterback McKinley Brown after the game. “We can’t dwell on this. We just don’t have the time for that stuff. We just have to get back to work and focus on West Henderson.”
Tough as nails indeed, because this was the kind of gut-wrenching loss that would make the hardiest of Pisgah fans whimper.
However, Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell immediately went to work refocusing his troops for tonight’s homecoming opponent West Henderson.
“It has not been as hard as you would think,” said Chappell. “Probably the biggest thing is it was nice to get back on the field on Monday after the loss and actually getting back to business on Monday. We were able to focus on something other than the Franklin game.
“As far as our focus for West Henderson, I had a chance to talk to the seniors and they all understand the importance of winning out, especially these 3-A games. They understand we still have a good chance to trying to get that No. 1 seed for the 3-A playoffs, which is loaded with some very good teams.
“I am not so certain that the second place team in our 3A division is going will get a home game. But the seniors are our leaders and they understand that the importance of all the regular season games.”
But don’t be quick to crown the winless Falcons (0-6, 0-2 WNCAC) as Pisgah’s homecoming patsy. According to Chappell, West Henderson poses several concerns for his battered and bruised Black Bears.
“We have some kids that are just banged up and bruised,” said Chappell. “We nursed them along all week and hopefully, they will be ready for (tonight’s) game. Unfortunately, senior Cody Mashburn will not play.
“We can’t afford to overlook West Henderson. They run the Wing-T, which is going to be new for us. We have not faced a team this season that has run the wing-T.
That will be a challenge for our defense, which has been playing extremely well all season. We did a good job against Franklin and hopefully we will continue that against West (Henderson).
“However, West’s defense is going to create some problems for us with some of the different coverages they use. We will have to pick our places to throw the football, but I feel good about what we can do up front.
“I expect another big game from McKinley (Brown) and all the receivers. I also expect to get the ground game going and come away with a good homecoming win.”
Pisgah has won the last three meetings with West Henderson and 10 out of the last 14 meetings in the series.
But the caution flag has been raised as three of the Falcons’ four wins since 1999 have been at Memorial Stadium.
Compounding the concerns for Coach Chappell and his staff is all the chatter from the fans that we are just a week away from the state’s best high school football rivalry.
“I have not heard anything from the players about next week’s game,” said Chappell. “I don’t know if they know it’s better not to mention that around me, but they have been really quiet. We have watched films on only West this week and obviously we are totally focused on those guys.
“I don’t think we will overlook West Henderson. As athletes, we will play up to our opponent’s effort. I hope that our kids will be above that and I hope that we will play up to Pisgah’s effort and Pisgah’s talent. If we do that, it will be a great night for us.”
Last season’s game at West Henderson, Brown made his first start at quarterback and had a near flawless performance in leading the Black Bears to a 55-28 victory over the Falcons.
Brown has continued to lead Pisgah’s offense this season, passing for 1,171 yards and 14 touchdowns. Like a politician, he equally spreads his passes around to a pair of seniors in Hunter Wike (423 yards receiving, seven TDs) and Jesse Anderson (422 yards and seven TDs) and Hunter Wike (17 receptions for 423 yards and seven touchdowns).
If the running game falters at all, Brown and his receivers will pick up the slack.
Pisgah makes West Henderson its homecoming patsy.
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