‘Jilted’ Eagles face ‘fixed’ Bears tonight
CANTON — Tonight’s East Henderson at Pisgah WNC Athletic Conference varsity football game will spin new meaning to the contemporary usage of the phrase “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”
Or in this case, Hell has no fury like a football team scorned.
In early January, when Brett Chappell left East Henderson to become Pisgah’s new head football coach, many fans circled Sept. 27, 2013 on their calendar.
That date has finally arrived as the two schools meet tonight, kicking off at 7:30 p.m., on the “sacred acre” of Memorial Stadium. And despite a 0-4 record, the jilted Eagles would like nothing more than to beat their former coach and his 3-1 Black Bears.
But all Chappell wants his team to focus on is starting the WNCAC slate with a win.
“The biggest thing for me as I looked at this game on the schedule was trying to get through this week and trying to get to the end of it,” said Chappell. “Obviously, there are a lot of relationships as a coach that you build with the players and his family. A lot of of my former players were idle the Friday we played Hayesville and I saw a lot of those familiar faces after the game.
“I loved my time at East Henderson and I hope I made a difference being their coach. But (tonight’s) game will be a unique situation. I am excited about being at Pisgah and having my family here. I love the kids that I have here. I will get a chance after the game to talk with all my former players, their parents and some of my former coaches.
“But the bottom line, this is an important conference game. We need to beat East Henderson to get one step closer to our goal. We will be focused on one thing and one thing only, being 1-0 in the conference when the game is over and my team understands this.”
East Henderson has a three-game win streak, won four of the last five and seven of the last 10 meetings since 1999.
After winning three of the four non-conference contests to start the season, Pisgah was open last Friday night and Chappell likes what his Black Bears got accomplished for the stretch run of the regular season.
“We went into the open week to make sure we recovered a little bit, get our legs back and get focused for the final seven games,” said Chappell. “We have a long stretch coming up on us and we wanted to make sure we got our kids back to where we needed to be at so we can go get a conference championship. Certainly, I believe it is obtainable.
“The drive for the kids is there. I have a good group that likes to work hard and gets after it and you can’t ask for much more from your kids than that. Obviously we are going to face some teams along the way who are going to do some things that are going to create problems for us. East Henderson is one of those teams. But I also believe we create some problems for the other team as well. We have been working hard to clean up some things and we have done a good job with it.
“And coming into this game with East Henderson, my kids are in a good place. They are right where they need to be. They are focused and understand the importance of this game and the remaining conference schedule.”
What Chappell does not have to fix is his defense and passing game. The Black Bears’ defense, led by senior defensive back Vadrey Crouch and senior inside linebacker Dylan Hannah, has allowed a total of 53 points (13.25 ppg). But exclude the Erwin game, Pisgah has shutout two opponents and allowed just seven points for an impressive 2.33 points per game.
Senior quarterback McKinley Brown and senior wide receivers Hunter Wike and Jesse Anderson have been the prime-time players when the Black Bears throw the football.
Brown has thrown for 795 yards (198.75 ypg) and nine touchdowns, which Wike (14 receptions for 357 yards) has hauled in six scoring strikes and Anderson has caught (17 receptions for 163 yards) three TD passes.
However, what has been on Chappell’s “Fix It List” has been Pisgah’s rushing attack and its excessive penalties.
The Black Bears are averaging just 119.75 yards on the ground and only 3.44 yards per carry this season, while being flagged 47 times (12.0 per game) in four games for a total of 404 yards (101.0 yards per game).
Playing East Henderson presents a great opportunity to play a clean game with very few flags and getting the ground game going.
Expect Pisgah to play a clean or cleaner contest and ground and pound the Eagles’ defense, which is allowing 34.5 point per game.
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