By Carey Phillips
After opening with three road games, Smoky Mountain’s football team will play at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field for the first time this season Friday as Robbinsville visits for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Not only is it the first home game, but it is also homecoming.
“We’ve had a really brutal non-conference schedule, and Robbinsville may be the best of the four teams,” Coach Ricky Brindley said. “They are going to provide a really physical football team that’s going to come in and be good on both sides of the ball.”
The Black Knights (2-1) use a two-back set on offense and a 4-4 defense.
“It starts with Cutler Adams,” Brindley said of the 2,000-yard rusher from a year ago. “He’s one of the best backs in Western North Carolina. He is big and physical and really explosive. He’s got it all.”
Quarterback Donovan Carpenter directs the offense for Coach Dee Walsh’s team.
“He’s a good football player,” Brindley said. “He makes good decisions. He understands their offense and does a pretty good job running the ball.”
Other key players Brindley pointed out are wide receiver Brock Adams and offensive/defensive lineman Carlos Lopez.
“The first key is us being able to tackle Cutler Adams,” Brindley said. “He’s such a strong kid. We’ve got to do a good job of getting him on the ground.”
The Mustangs (2-1) had trouble scoring touchdowns in Friday’s 21-12 loss at Roberson. They had just one touchdown and twice had to settle for field goals deep in Ram territory. Brindley said that will have to change this week.
“We have to be able to capitalize on scoring opportunities when we get the football in the red zone,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to score touchdowns and not field goals.”
The Knights, a perennial 1-A power, opened the season with a loss to Asheville (26-14). They bounced back to defeat Brevard (32-7) and Mountain Heritage (26-8).
“They’ve got a heck of a football team,” Brindley said.
The Mustangs have a 4-2 advantage in the series, but they lost the last meeting, 26-21, in 2019.
Due to construction on campus, those using the front parking lot will need to enter through the gate above the baseball field and behind the old gym, according to Athletic Director Adam Phillips.
All spaces behind the press box will be for handicapped parking with access through the gate near the press box.
Tickets are $8, and Phillips encourages fans to use gofan.co to purchase tickets online. He said tickets will be available at the gate.
Looking back on Friday’s loss to Roberson, Brindley said, “We had our opportunities. Four or five times we had the ball inside the red zone and came out with six points. You can’t do that and beat a good football team.”
The Rams rolled up 315 rushing yards.
“What they do is tough to stop,” Brindley said of Roberson’s triple option offense. “You usually see it once a year.”
He said linemen Ryan Ashe and Will Ashe are out for the season after sustaining torn knee ligaments in the Swain game.
On a positive note, the knee injury to wide receiver/defensive back Da’Mare Williams, also sustained against Swain, is not as serious as initially feared. Brindley said his status is week to week with a bone bruise.