West fullback Brendan Goings (35) soars into the end zone for the first of his two scores Friday, after he is tripped by Austin Vanhoy(17).
West is emerging as a pivotal factor in the WNC Athletic Conference race, and 3-A playoff hunt. The two local teams have switched roles from a year ago, when North won its first two WNCAC contests — by 27 over West, then 28 over East Henderson. This time, West (3-2) is already a “feel-good” story, dreaming of successful chapters in the conference.
West out-rushed winless North, by 354-81 yards. Fastest Falcon Cody Jackson raced 64 yards around left end for West’s first score. He ran for 158 yards Friday.
Fullback Brendan Goings seemed unstoppable, as a deciding factor. He smashed upfield for 123 yards and two touchdowns — rumbling 29 and eight yards.
Dustie Fender burst in from 13 yards out, in one of two nine-play West drives. In an aerial twist fitting the Falcon name, quarterback William Couch connected with Tristan Thomas on a 44-yard scoring play. That enabled West to break open the game, at 21-10 which was the halftime score.
The offensive barrage against a fierce rival is a feather in the cap of Falcon head coach Paul Whitaker, who has steadily rebuilt the program in a half-decade. “It’s big to win against a county rival,” he said. Though homecoming officially is the next home game, Oct. 10 versus WNCAC power Pisgah, it sure felt like it last Friday. West rolled, on a comfortably cool early autumn night.
North’s top offensive player is another Whitaker — Dalton — who Paul noted is unrelated to him. The Knights moved the ball better in the second half with its Whitaker, a speed receiver, running repeatedly as a tailback. But their often vibrant passing game was held to 63 yards.
North did, however, strike big with two fumble recoveries. Trevor Craft, who is also the QB, gobbled up a loose ball and sped 17 yards for the opening score to rev up the visiting crowd. After Jackson’s long run tied it, Knight playmaker Austin Vanhoy snatched the ball. That set up Craft’s 37-yard field goal, as North retook the lead at 10-7. After that, it was all West.
Also Friday, “Mac” McMillan‘s East Henderson Eagles took a big step. Though still winless, they fought hard to stifle Pisgah’s offense, lead early and drive often. But the Bears forced two turnovers in their zone, to prevailed 17-7 in former East head coach Brett Chappell’s first return to East Flat Rock as an opposing coach.
Hendersonville (4-2) also dropped its (WHC) conference opener, to Mountain Heritage in a 46-43 “barnburner” in Burnsville. HHS “Aircats” QB Michael Schmidt set a school mark by passing for 495 yards, which is deemed 11th most ever in the state. He hit Cole Cleary for five TD passes, and ran for another score.
This Friday, East hosts North. West plays at Smoky Mountain. Hendersonville welcomes Madison (which lost by 27 to Polk Friday), for homecoming.