Tuscola focused on only North KnightsUndefeated Mountaineers go on the road to seeking redemption from North Henderson
With the biggest football game in perhaps their lifetime looming just a week from today, Tuscola Head Coach Tommy Pursley’s staff is doing all it can to reinforce the point to his undefeated Mountaineers that the biggest game won’t be if they get caught looking ahead and get upset by the North Henderson Knights (3-3, WNCAC 1-1) in Edneyville tonight.
“I know I’m not looking ahead and don’t even talk about that game,” said Pursley. “Our main point of emphasis this week has been that we didn’t play very well against North last year. As a matter of fact, I thought it was one of our worst games of the season. We felt that was one we let get away from us. It was a game we could have won but didn’t and we want to turn that around Friday night. But our main point of emphasis is the same as it is every week. To improve. Not just for this week but next week and down the road.”
Pursley has spent the week reminding his players that it was the Knights that came into C.E. Weatherby Stadium and pulled off a stunning 17-14 upset, which ruined a perfect WNC Athletic Conference record and took some of the luster off the game before the following week’s County Clash.
From a casual observer’s perspective, the game in Edneyville between an undefeated and mostly unchallenged Tuscola (6-0, WNCAC 2-0) and upset-minded Knights would appear to be a classic mismatch. After all, the Mountaineers are firing on all cylinders offensively and defensively. Tuscola has been lighting up the scoreboard like fireworks on the Fourth of July, scoring an amazing 51.3 points per game and allowing just 14.3 points per game. In addition, since their season opening 68-34 win over Morganton Patton, Pursley’s Black Shirt defense is allowing just 8.7 points per game and the majority of those points have come in the fourth quarter when the Mountaineers havce already seal the deal by halftime.
The Knights, however, have struggled at times this season, scoring just 19.0 points per game while allowing 21.5 points per game. But Pursley notes that North Henderson still features a couple of very good athletes, who pose a threat to the Mountaineers.
“They have a real good athletic quarterback, Calin Ensley, who is a 6-3 sophomore,” said Pursley. “He throws the ball accurately, moves well and is also their leading rusher. Obviously, we got to contain him. They have a little running back that is very quick. The other thing that concerns us a little bit is that they are big in the offensive and defensive line. We operate on speed and quickness, but this team has 18 kids over 200 pounds, which is over half their roster.”
Offensively, the Knights will run out of the spread, using the big athletic quarterback to throw the ball all over the field, or run the ball is he chooses. The Mountaineer Black Shirt defense will have their hands full covering four and five receiver patterns, while the defensive line will be charged with the task of bottling up Ensley.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Mountaineers have answered the questions as the Black Shirt defense has limited its last three opponents to a single touchdown.
Offensively, Tuscola will do what they do best ... Namely run, run, and run some more, chewing up clock, dominating the time of possession and total yards amassed.
Lineman of the week for the Brevard game was senior center Joey Dilenno.
The offensive weapons will be the usual cast of junior lefty quarterback Grayson Perkins, senior B-back Caleb Ferguson, who leads the team with 24 all-purpose touchdowns, and the A-back tandem of seniors Roman Jenkins and Brent Turner with assistance from sophomore speedster Bailee Ewart.
On the rare occasion when Tuscola elects to pass, Perkins’ primary targets have been Joe Napier, Eli Trantham, Josh Allison.
Tuscola will go into this game relatively healthy with only Dakota Winchester still recovering from an arm injury. Pursley expects Winchester to return within the next couple of weeks.
While this game could be considered a trap game for Tuscola, the added incentive for some redemption for a staggering loss last year may be just the ticket to keep the Mountaineers focused on this week’s opponent and not next week’s opponent.
Tuscola will stay focused and undefeated, while the vastly improved Black Shirts dominated the Knights.
Tuscola 49, North Henderson 7