Chappell expects no hangover
CANTON — Pisgah head football coach Brett Chappell knows as well as anyone that a victory over the Tuscola Mountaineers can only carry so far.
“That was last week,” Chappell said. “It was a great win but it’s over. We now have to get ready for a really good North Henderson team. We have certainly stressed to the kids this week that we have an opportunity that we can win out, go into the playoffs with a 9 -1 record and have at least one, maybe two home playoff games.
“We have stressed this week to the kids to be very focused and ready to play, so we can avoid the distraction or the hangover effect of the big win from last week. We are also dealing with being out of school (today) and that is something that we have to deal with.”
“It all depends on how the seniors prepare themselves the day of the game. I will be interested in seeing when they come in what frame of mind they are in. Hopefully, we will be focused and ready to take care of business.”
Tonight’s kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. from North Henderson High School. The game can be heard live on WPTL AM 920 or www.wptlradio.net, beginning with the 6:30 p.m. pre-game show. The Knights are the final 3-A team Pisgah plays in the WNCAC. The Black Bears are 3-0 against the other 3-A teams and a Pisgah win would seal the conference’s No. 1 seed for the state 3-A playoffs, which begins Friday, Nov. 15.
“We are playing for several things (tonight),” said Chappell. “We are playing for a No. 1 seed, home playoff games and a win still keeps us in the hunt for at least a share of the conference championship.”
The Black Bears’ trip to Henderson County for tonight’s game with the Knights will be the first time Chappell has returned to his old stomping grounds.
And the new coach hopes the hard-hitting, aggressive defensive unit will do what it has done for seven of the eight games this season — carry the night.
“I have thought about that fact, that I am taking my team for the first time to Henderson County,” said Chappell. “All I want is for my kids to perform well. If we are ready to play, especially our defense, which has been outstanding for most of the season, we will win the game. I really believe in these young men.”
Pisgah comes into tonight’s game feeling really good about itself after beating rival Tuscola, 27-7, while North Henderson is licking its wounds after being thumped at Franklin, 44-8.
Inside the numbers
Through eight games, the Pisgah defense is allowing 12.8 points per game and just 8.0 points per contest if the Erwin contest is excluded. The Black Bears’ offense is scoring an average of 35.9 points per game.
The Knights, who may be hoping to catch Pisgah hung over, especially having been outscored 85-22 in the past two games.
North Henderson’s defense is giving up 24.8 points per game and its offense is scoring an average of 23.2 points.
The Black Bears’ defense may be hitting its stride at the perfect time. In last week’s rivalry game, they gave up only one big play, a 96-yard touchdown run, to the Mountaineers. Excluding that run, Pisgah’s defense held Tuscola’s ground-and-pound to 2.5 yards per carry and more impressively, allowed just 14 passing yards.
The Black Bears also picked off three passes and caused and recovered two fumbles.
Leading the defense all season has been senior Vadrey Crouch (73 tackles), cornerback Jeff Henson (54 tackles), inside linebacker Dylan Hannah (53 tackles), D-back Trevor Johnson (47.5) and D-back Hunter Wike (44 tackles).
In the past several weeks, Black Bears like defensive end Holt Underwood, defensive tackle Kyle Terrell, defensive end Sherrill Rathbone, defensive tackle Jacob Boyd and inside linebacker Colton Shuler have been making their presences known. And that is not what North Henderson wants to hear or see tonight.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Black Bears are not putting up impressive numbers on the ground.
But Pisgah’s passing attack is, and the Bears that make up the pass happy unit are garnering the bulk of every defensive coordinator’s attention.
Senior quarterback McKinley Brown, who leads the WNCAC, has completed 72.3 percent (107-of-148) of his passes for 1,590 yards and 20 touchdowns with only five interceptions.
Brown loves to share the football with his talented corps of receivers as Wike has caught 24 passes, 11 for touchdowns, for a team-leadng 645 yards, while senior Jesse Anderson has a team-leading 34 receptions for 520 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition, Johnson has hauled in 17 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore Jesse Martinez has 16 receptions for 242 yards and also caught two touchdown passes.
The last time the Knights beat Pisgah was in 2011 when North Henderson scored a stunning 47-35 victory on a rainy night in Canton. Prior to that upset, the Black Bears had won 10 consecutive games beginning in 2001.
Since 1999, Pisgah is 11-1 in its series with North Henderson, including last year’s 48-33 win over the Knights at Memorial Stadium.
Offense wins games and defense wins championships and the Black Bears are very good on both sides of the ball.
Pisgah may experience effects of a Tuscola hangover in the early stages of the game, but Chapell will sober up his Black Bears before the second quarter begins. Then again, he may sober them up before the opening kickoff.
Either case, the Black Bears will maul the Knights ...
Pisgah 42, North Henderson 7