By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s football team will play its third straight home game Friday when Roberson comes to Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
This could be the last non-conference contest of the season. Graham County Schools announced Monday that due to COVID-19 related issues, schools there will be remote learning until at least Sept. 13.
“All sports practices/games and extracurricular activities will be halted during this time. All activities on the Graham County Schools campus will be halted during this time period as well,” says a post on the school system’s Facebook page.
That means SM’s Sept. 10 game at Robbinsville will not be played. Coach Ricky Brindley said Tuesday morning no decision had been made on whether to seek another opponent.
As for the Rams, he said, “They are very athletic. They present challenges in the open field. Their quarterback (Kamryn White) is very good. He’s very elusive. They run the option. He and the fullback (Devon Hollis) will be our focus this week.”
Roberson likes to keep the ball on the ground and has thrown very little in a loss to Watauga (33-0) and a come-from-behind win over Tuscola (42-36).
Coach J.D. Dinwiddie’s team uses a 4-3 defense anchored by linebacker Tyson Conner.
“They are going to be well-coached and extremely athletic,” Brindley said. “We’re going to have to be sound and execute in every phase.”
The teams have split the eight previous meetings, but they have not played since a 49-0 Roberson win in 2004.
The Mustangs fell to 2-1 with a 21-9 loss to Swain last Friday.
“We made a ton of mistakes, and we couldn’t overcome them,” Brindley said. “It was very frustrating. We still had a chance in the second half, but we just couldn’t overcome our own mistakes.”
Those mistakes included problems on snaps that led directly to two Maroon Devil touchdowns.
The defense held Swain to seven first downs and 147 yards of total offense.
“We played so well on defense,” Brindley said. “I felt so good about how we played on that side of the football.”
He singled out Nacoma Diver and Clayton Dillard for their play at linebacker.
In the second half, SM had a first down at the 12 on one possession and a first down at the 3 on the next possession but failed to score.
“We had it twice inside the 12-yardline and got zero points out of it,” Brindley said. “You can’t do that against a well-coached, quality football team. You’ve got to take your opportunities and capitalize on them.
“It was just unfortunately a night that we couldn’t overcome ourselves, which tells me I’ve got to do a better job helping our kids focus on the details,” he said.