Chappell: ‘How will you be remembered?’
CANTON — The dust has finally settled from the Pisgah varsity football team’s 27-24 loss to Smoky Mountain a week ago.
Much has been made of the Black Bears’ poor play on both sides of the ball by their head coach Brett Chappell.
Pisgah fans were confused and angry at a play late in the game that was ruled a fumble and recovered by the Mustangs, despite the play on film showing the ballcarrier was clearly down.
Was it a bad ruling? Maybe. Was it a momentum shifter? Probably. But was it the reason the Black Bears lost the game? No.
As Coach Chappell often says, “officials make mistakes just like players do. But you have to move on and keep playing.”
And that’s exactly what Chappell is doing, moving on and leading his Black Bears into the regular season finale (7:30 p.m. kickoff) with arch-rival Brevard at Memorial Stadium tonight.
“It’s Senior Night (tonight) and I have asked the seniors one question this week,” said Chappell. “‘How will you be remember?’ I want each senior to understand that when this season is over with, people are going to talk about what they did until next season. And maybe they will remember what they did for years. We have stressed to the seniors they need to go out on a winning note, they need to go out having a successful season.
“Certainly one game such as last week does not send the season into the tank, but it certainly does leave a bitter taste in our mouth. We certainly don’t want a repeat performance like that, so we have room to improve and I think the kids have had a very good week of practice. Hopefully, they will show that they are ready and will play well (tonight). But at the end of the day, we can’t and won’t dwell on the loss. But we sure did address several issues this week and are moving on.”
With the loss at Smoky Mountain clearly in the rear view mirror, all the mistakes and poor performances do not matter anymore, What’s done is done. Thanks to Chappell, the Black Bears have forgotten the game and moved forward and are completely focused on the Blue Devils.
After dwelling in the WNC Athletic Conference cellar and going 6-28 in the last three seasons, including 0-11 in 2012, Brevard is making a comeback as the Blue Devils visit Pisgah sporting a 5-5 and 3-3 record in the conference.
And the resurgence has been sparked by what Brevard did so well in its glory days — run the ball.
“On film, Brevard is a heavy run team,” said Chappell, “which we are continuing to do a good job and hopefully that will hold true for (tonight’s) game. We got to play better on the defensive side. When Brevard has to pass the ball, we have to do a good job getting pressure on the quarterback. We have to do a better job in the secondary and if the quarterback does roll out, our linebackers have to do a better job.”
The Blue Devils score an average of 31 points a game, but are giving up 33 points every Friday night. Just two weeks ago, Brevard led Smoky Mountain 28-10 late in the fourth quarter and eventually lost the game, 31-
Through 10 games, Pisgah is giving up 13.5 points a game and scoring 34.6 per game every Friday night.
What Chappell wants from his team tonight is to finish.
“We got to finish,” said Chappell. “That has been the whole theme for the week. When we have the opportunity, we got to finish and that is one thing that has been lacking with us in close games. Our offense and defense has to do a better job of finishing.
“Special teams are always huge, and they will play a key role against Brevard. I felt our special teams were just OK last week. Our kick coverage were not good, even though (Nathan) Higdon is kicking the ball well. But we were dissappointed in our kick and punt returns. So those are the big things for us that we have to fix and obviously, turnovers and our penalties were certainly addressed this week as well. Hopefully the young men understand the importance of it and there is a sense of urgency.”
Last week, Pisgah rushed for a season-high 221 yards and will need to have a similar performance to take some pressure off its passing game, which has put up impressive numbers all season.
Pisgah quarterback McKinley Brown has been one Black Bear that has assembled an impressive season. The 6-foot-2 senior is completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 2,240 yards with 24 touchdowns and has been intercepted only four times. But the biggest surprise and the leader of the receiving corps has to be senior Hunter Wike, who has caught 35 of Brown’s passes for a team-high 810 yards and 13 TDs.
Inside the series
Historically, the Pisgah-Brevard hotly-contested rivalry has been as entertaining as the County Clash and there have been several epic football games. Since 1999, the series is tied at 7-7 and the Blue Devils are currently sporting a 4-3 record in games played at Memorial Stadium.
The Black Bears can’t worry what happens in Waynesville and has to take care of their own business tonight in order to have an outside chance at the No. 1 seed for the Class 3-A West playoffs. A Pisgah win combined with a Tuscola loss seals the top seed. Any other combination (a Pisgah loss plus a Tuscola loss or a Pisgah win plus a Tuscola win) gives the Mountaineers the top seed.
Chappell has reminded his team of what damage can and will be done to their season if they are not ready to play tonight. He has also reminded his team the loss to Smoky has given the Blue Devils confidence they can come in and beat Pisgah.
It’s been an attention-grabbing physical and testy week of practice. There has been several personnel and schematic changes. Chappell hopes it will change the focus and temperment of his team. It will.
Pisgah 28, Brevard 14