Friday Night Football Preview

Mountaineers to play for WNCAC championship — and No. 1 seed

A Tuscola win over Franklin solidifies playoff aspirations
By Chuck Fiebernitz | Nov 05, 2013
Photo by: Donated Tuscola's Brent Rathbone, 54, and Houston McCracken, 5, celebrate a touchdown.

Tuscola junior linebacker and running back Houston McCracken just grins when the subject of the Pisgah varsity football team’s stunning loss at Smoky Mountain this past Friday night is mentioned.   
He has good reason to smile and it should not surprise anyone if he sends a “Thank You” card over to his rivals.
Despite losing to the Black Bears several weeks ago in the 50th meeting of the County Clash, Pisgah’s loss to the Mustangs raised the stakes for Friday night’s WNC Athletic Franklin at Tuscola showdown.
“I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it,” said McCracken. “I thought no way Pisgah lost to Smoky. But when it was confirmed, all of us on the team knew we now are in control of our own destiny. We beat Franklin, we win a share of the conference championship, we get the No. 1 seed for the playoffs and Pisgah gets the No. 2 seed. Who would have thought that after we lost to Pisgah several weeks ago that Tuscola would control its own destiny, play for a co-championship and a No. 1 seed? Sure raises the stakes for Friday night’s game.”
WNCAC commissioner David Pressley confirmed the scenario in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
“It’s real simple, if Tuscola beats Franklin, they are co-champs and get the conference’s No. 1 seed for the 3-A playoffs because they will have a better conference record than Pisgah and Pisgah will get the No. 2 seed.
“However, if Tuscola loses and Pisgah beats Brevard, then it creates a tie for second. Pisgah will get the No. 1 seed, Tuscola then gets the No. 2 seed because Pisgah won the head-to-head meeting.”    
For years, I have held the opinion that Chris Hughes of to be the top prognosticator for high school football playoffs.
According to, two of the three possible outcomes Friday night favor the Mountaineers.
The first scenario is if Tuscola beats Franklin and Pisgah beats Brevard, the Mountaineers will draw the No. 4 seed and host the No. 13 seed team, which could be Hickory, in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 3-A West playoffs. The Black Bears would then receive the No. 6 seed and host the No. 11 seed, which could be NW Cabarrus.
The second scenario that still favors Tuscola occurs if the Mountaineers lose to the Panthers and the Black Bears fall to the Blue Devils. Then Tuscola will still retain the conference’s top seed for the 3-A playoffs and draw probably draw the No. 4 or No. 5 seed for the opening round.
The final scenario that favors Pisgah occurs if Tuscola loses and the Black Bears win. Then Pisgah retains the conference’s top seed for the 3-A playoffs and will likely get the No. 4 or No. 5 seed and the Mountaineers will probably draw the No. 6 seed.
As for Pisgah’s football team, they have only themselves to blame. The Black Bears held all the cards going into the game at Smoky and gave them up to Tuscola before they left Sylva.
Pisgah’s loss was a humongous statement for all high school football teams in more ways than just some girdiron upset.
It’s a clear statement why we play the games and every football team, no matter the record, has a chance under those Friday night lights.

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