The pick: Pisgah downs Devils in close game

·2 min read

Sep. 7—Pisgah at Swain County

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Swain County High School in Bryson City

RECORD: Pisgah beat Enka 21-14; Swain beat Franklin 13-10 in overtime

HEAD COACHES: Brett Chappell coaches the Bears (10th season); Sherman Holt leads the Maroon Devils (first season)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: For the Bears, sophomore quarterback Aaron Clark has a done a nice job of spreading the ball around and playing mistake-free football in his first two games, while senior running back Logan Free has provided the punch at the line of scrimmage to earn tough yardage. Defensively, Pisgah's young players, like sophomore Jake Lowery, have meshed well with the upperclassman, like senior Caden Robinson. The linebacking corps has yet to face a true running threat (Brevard being the closest) but they've held up well so far and even put together some fourth down stops here and there that have helped their team out.

For the Maroon Devils, junior Reese Winchester is the team's top threat with the ball in his hands. Despite having taken over as quarterback this season (22 pass attempts in three games), his greatest threat is with his legs. Add in junior Joshua Collins, who is averaging over four yards per carry and it's a duo primed to score if they can take advantage of what the defense gives them. On defense, it's a group effort, one that racked up five tackles for losses last week against Franklin. Junior Cole Wikle led the way with two stops in the backfield.

SUMMARY: Pisgah is coming off a much-needed win over Enka two weeks ago (the team had an open week this past week), in which they spread the ball around nicely and its defense came up with some crucial stops and takeaways.

We have yet to see a breakout offensive game for the Bears, but against a tough Swain group that may have to wait just another week.

Swain put together two nice games against Pisgah's conference foes — Smoky Mountain and Franklin — and beat the latter. The Maroon Devils would have taken down Smoky, too, had it not been for some late-game heroics from the Mustangs.

Both of these teams live up to the "winning does have to be pretty" mantra, and pull out late-game wins thanks to tough defensive performances and solid rushing attacks.

This week will be more of the same. It will be a grind-it-out, late game win for one of the two teams Friday night, and I think the Bears will pull this one out thanks to their experienced coaching and stingy defense.