Pisgah seeks fifth straight victory over the Warriors
CANTON — Rhonda Byrd
Pisgah Beat Writer
CANTON — Ask any Western North Carolina football fan about the outcome of tonight’s Pisgah at Erwin non-conference football game in Leicester, or check out the lastest posts on the message boards and there is one common theme — it can’t happen.
But don’t expect to hear Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell subscribe to that line of thinking.
He thinks it can happen when his unranked (Class 3-A) Pisgah Black Bears resume its series with the No. 5 ranked (Class 3-A) Erwin Warriors tonight at Kerr Stadium.
“This game is going to be a measuring stick for our team,” said Chappell. “I am interested in seeing how our stingy defense plays against Erwin’s high-octane offense. I think Erwin is ranked No. 1 in the mountains and fifth in Class 3-A and we are ranked sixth in the mountains and unranked in Class 3-A. It is going to be interesting to see how our kids react. There is not a lot on the line for the winner of (tonight’s) game except bragging rights. We still have a tough part of the schedule ahead of us, including the conference and that’s more important to us. One thing about this team is they are not going to back down, no matter the opponent or the situation. And we think we can beat Erwin.”
The only simularities between the two programs so far this season is both are 2-0. The paths they took to get to this point have been as different as night and day.
Erwin Head Coach Mike Sexton’s Warriors have relied on the offense, a high-octane offense that’s averaging 51.5 points per game.
Chappell’s Black Bears have hung their hats on a physical, stout defense, which is allowing an average of just 3.5 points a game.
In its first two games this season, Erwin defeated East Rutherford, 47-28, and hammered Mountain Heritage, 55-13, while Pisgah blanked North Buncombe, 44-0 and beat Enka, 28-7.
Running the Warriors’ high-octane offense is their senior quarterback Austin Brown, who has thrown for 546 yards, three touchdowns and hasn’t been picked off yet. His main target is senior Jonathan Allen, who has 10 receptions for 140 yards and one touchdown. When Erwin runs the ball, the leading rusher is senior Kelman Simpson, who has amassed 323 yards on the ground with six TD runs.
There are numerous leaders and standouts on the Black Bears’ vastly improve defense. For starters, Pisgah’s secondary of seniors Vadrey Crouch, Hunter Wike, Jesse Anderson, Jeff Henson, juniors Lucas Hall and Trevor Johnson have performed much better than expected. The group has picked off three passes, held the QBs of its first two opponents to an average of 41 percent completion rate and has allowed a per game average of just 85 yards passing.
But it has been the guys in the trenches, the front seven, that has put in the most impressive performance. Senior linebacker Dylan Hannah, junior linebacker Colton Shuler, senior defensive ends Dustin Messer and Casey Mashburn, junior defensive tackle Jacob Boyd, senior D-linemen Holt Underwood, Kyle Terrell, Sherrill Rathbone and Cody Lamb have held opponents to a combined 111 rushing yards, which computes to an amazing 55.5 yards per game.
Let’s not forget Chappell’s offensive unit last week against Enka began to show signs of finding its stride.
In the first two games, senior quarterback McKinley Brown has completed 52.9 percent (18-of-34) of his passes for 282 yards with two touchdown and only one pick.
Wike (four receptions for 159 yards) and Anderson (four catches for 68 yards) have been Brown’s main targets, while Messer is the Black Bears’ leading rusher with 157 yards and four touchdowns.
So have the fans, coaches, students and football pundits fell hook, line and sinker for the hype that Erwin is a huge favorite over Pisgah? Do the Black Bears even stand a chance against the Warriors?
Well, before you decide, take a closer look at this fact.
The last time Erwin has beaten Pisgah was a 33-20 victory at Kerr Stadium in 2000.
Since then, the Black Bears have done 4-0 against the Warriors. Pisgah won 13-0 in 2007, 14-0 in 2008, 34-21 in 2009 and 30-21 in 2010 before the series took a two-year break.
It sure appears the Black Bears have the Warriors’ number.
Pisgah makes it five wins in a row over Erwin so can it really be called an upset?
Pisgah 30, Erwin 27