Smoky wants to prove to Tuscola it’s a contender and not pretender
Like the WNC Athletic Conference as a whole, Smoky Mountain is tough to figure out.
The Mustangs opened the season by squashing Andrews (37-6), then lost to Swain County (34-20), hammered Enka (41-20) the following week, then went to Murphy in Week 4 and got thumped, 48-14.
The Mountaineers meanwhile, are a hot team that has started the season winning three of four, 3-0 for playoff purposes and snapped Swain County’s 21-game home win streak a week ago, 35-34.
So, which Smoky Mountain team will show up for tonight’s WNCAC opener at Weatherby Stadium?
Will it be the contender that hung 41 points on Enka or the pretender that had trouble stopping Swain’s veer option-oriented attack?
Tuscola Head Coach Brandon Allen believes it will be the contender.
“First of all, Coach (David) Napert and his staff have done a great job turning the program around,” said Allen. “We’re going to have to play extremely well (tonight) because Smoky is extremely talented, they’ve got several dangerous weapons at the skill positions and they got a big line. They are a scary team and because Smoky has had an extra week to prepare for us (Mustangs were idle a week ago), we will have our hands full.”
The weapons that concern Coach Allen are quarterback Zeb Speir, the oldest son of Western Carolina Head Coach Mark Speir, who has thrown for 632 yards (158.0 ypg) and five touchdowns and running back Chase Morgan, who has amassed 658 yards (164.5 ypg) on the ground and scored six TDs.
But every Friday night the Tuscola defense has been faced with a challenge of stopping its opponent’s key offensive players and every week the group has met the challenges. It has just been different names and teams each week. Tonight the challenge for the Mountaineers’ battle-tested defensive unit, which is led by junior linebacker Houston McCracken (30 total tackles) and Jon Martinez (33 total tackles), will be to stop Speir’s passing the ball and Morgan rushing the ball.
However, when Tuscola goes on offense and if junior Bryce Myers, senior Ben Greene and McCracken get the Mountaineers’ veer-option rolling, it could be a long night for the Mustangs.
In addition, Tuscola will honor the players, coaches and cheerleaders of the 1972 state co-champions prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
With extra motivation playing in front state champions. Tuscola continues to roll by winning its WNCAC opener.
Smoky Mountain 14