HendersonvillePete Zamplas

Bearcats roll 49-0: Home again Friday


That is what Tykel Landrum said after Hendersonville’s 49-0 first-round demolition of Brevard. Multi-purpose star caught two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Kalin Ensley turned in 207 all-purpose yards, and each surpassed 1,000 receiving yards.

Landrum was describing Bearcat preparation, and prevention of over-confidence and to diminish looking ahead too far. HHS head coach Jim Sosebee got that point across, in the post-victory huddle. “Look forward through the windshield, more than the rear window,” he said about re-focusing for the next challenge.

Still, one cannot escape that the team’s grudge-match Super Bowl looms in round three, with a trip northward to the chilly confines of Mountain Heritage. The winner of that showdown could win it all — the first time for HHS since 1969, or Heritage’s first-ever state crown.

Both teams are hungry. HHS title hopes soar with Sosebee’s diverse offensive schemes, a much-improved defense, and multiple stars. MHHS counters with QB Trey Robinson, who has run for more yards than anyone in WNC football history including a WNC-leading 2,242 and TDs rushing this year.

First in round two, West 2A third seed HHS (9-3) looks to reach double-digits in wins against 11th-seeded Red Springs (also 9-3) at home. The kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. this Friday. Run-reliant Red Springs won 19-7 at sixth seed Salisbury, and features 1,514-yard runner Lee McLean.

Fans get another chance to see a Bearcat team with a star quarterback and pair of 1,000 yard receivers and an 1,100-yard runner. A bonus is the defense which has yielded merely one touchdown in the last three games. HHS in that span twice shut out neighboring Brevard (6-6) — 43-0, then two weeks later by an even more decisive 49-0 count to open playoffs.

“Our defense was flying all around” to make tackles, Coach Sosebee said. Crunching leading tackler (with 87) Cole McMurray said “our intensity level is up.”

Meanwhile, second seed Mountain Heritage Cougars won 50-28 last week, and now plays seventh-seeded Whiteville (11-1). Whiteville was in a three-way tie atop Three Rivers 2A/1A standings at 8-1 with Red Springs third at 6-3, and beat Red Springs 36-20. Thus on paper, Heritage has a tougher foe than HHS does.

Bud Williford three for three first-half TDs after running for the opening HHS score Friday, to account for four of five TDs by the break. HHS notched four TDs in the second quarter. Williford’s passing got on track once he adjusted to the chill. He said he has tried a glove on his throwing hand before, but did not feel enough grip with it on. He threw for 206 yards to total 2,879 this year. He tossed merely one interception Friday.

Ty’rese Hunt ran for two TDs, and 150 yards (7.1 ypc.) for his fifth consecutive game over 100 yards. He has 1,145 (6.9 ypc.) yards and 14 TDs rushing in this season.

Ensley scored two long TDS in a row. The first was on a 40-yard pass play. Then he reeled off a 90-yard interception return along the home sideline, for a 35-0 halftime lead. Ensley had 117 receiving yards on six catches. He leads HHS with 16 receiving TDs, and 21 scores overall. The big-play junior, formerly North Henderson’s QB, said an advantage of running with the ball as a receiver is typically “you only have two guys in front of you, instead of seven” in open field.

Ensley (1,036) and Landrum (1,096) both surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in ’17, both averaging 20 yards per catch. They are within 14 yards of 3,000 total yards combined, with 1,671 (139 ypg.) by Landrum.

“Both defenses shut down the offenses” on opening drives, BHS senior QB Mitchell Johnson observed. The Blue Devils hoped the outcome would differ — as often occurs in rematches. Not so this time. The stalemate disappeared.

Hendersonville promptly poured it on. Williford zipped 27 yards around left end on an option keeper, to the three-yard-line. Two plays later, the right-hander rolled left across the grain and heaved a strike to Landrum in the left side of the end zone. The first two scoring passes each covered eight yards — the second one going to Nasir Artis on the left side.

Bearcat rushing also clicked. Landrum took a pitch and scored on a sizzling 20-yard run on third-and-13, for his fourth rushing TD of the year. His third TD on Friday was on a 20-yard pass reception.

HHS ate clock in the second half before a 49-0 lead triggered a slaughter-rule “running clock.” On Hunt’s TD runs, he went four yards as he cut off tackle for a 21-0 lead, then 17 yards up the middle for the final score.

On another run, the burly 225-pound battering ram showed agility as well. He took a pitch, rumbled down the right side, then got extra yardage by leaping over a Blue Devil.

The HHS defense set an aggressive tone on its first series with Shawn Pearce’s first of two sacks. His twin Daniel Pearce added his 14th sack of the year; they combine for 23 sacks and 126 tackles. Ensley’s “pick six” nailed the Devil coffin tight.

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