By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain will open the Mountain Six Conference portion of its football schedule Friday in Canton against defending MSC champion Pisgah.
“It’s a fantastic way to start conference,” said Ricky Brindley, SM’s coach and a former Pisgah assistant. “I don’t know that we’re going to see anybody better than this bunch. It’s going to be an extreme challenge for us.”
Both teams were off last week. In its last game, Pisgah blanked previously undefeated Mountain Heritage 9-0.
“Mountain Heritage really couldn’t do anything,” Brindley said. “Everything was C gap to C gap. That played into the hands of Pisgah. They were able to put nine in the box and shut them down. Special teams were huge for Pisgah in that game when it came to field position.”
Coach Brett Chappell’s team uses spread and I formations offensively and a shade 50 defense.
Korey Griffith, a junior, is Pisgah’s quarterback,
“Korey is an experienced starter,” Brindley said. “He’s the kind of kid you want back there. He has seen a lot in his three years after starting in the playoffs as a freshman. I think he does a really good job when things break down of keeping his eyes down the field and making throws when he’s flushed out of the pocket.”
Cain Early moved from wide receiver to running back in the third game and has become the Bears’ top rusher.
“He’s a real good player,” Brindley said. “He’s really dangerous in the open field. He does a great job finding daylight.”
Ryan Reynolds has emerged as a key target for Griffith.
“He does a really good job running routes and catching the ball consistently,” Brindley said. “He’s a threat vertically but also in the quick game.”
The coach said the Bears (4-1) are solid on the offensive line, which is anchored by Neyland Walker and Caleb Bradford.
“Defensively, they do a fantastic job of playing with great technique,” Brindley said.
He said Bryson Davis “is playing out of his mind.”
“I think it’s going to be about sustained drives,” Brindley said of the Mustangs (4-2) having success Friday. “We’re going to have to move the chains. We’re going to have to play good field position when it comes to special teams. We’re going to have to be consistent. We’ve got to consistently tackle and block who we are supposed to block. We can’t have mental errors or penalties that put us in long yardage situations.”
The teams have had one common opponent. The Mustangs defeated Tuscola 37-7, and the Bears blanked the Mountaineers 14-0.
Pisgah also has wins over Enka (42-7) and East Rutherford (28-25.) The lone loss was to Murphy (12-0).
The Bears have dominated the series 27-4, including a 13-8 win last year.