Arden – Christ School exploded for a 49-7 halftime lead over local archrival Asheville School at home Saturday, en route to a 63-7 triumph that is the most lopsided in the historic football series.
Cade Mintz smashed over tacklers in Larry Csonka fashion, as screen passes often broke for long gains and scores. A.J. Simpkins threw for two touchdowns, and Travonta “Tray” Mauney later threw for two TDs and ran for one. Bryce Sain ran for two scores, senior Corey Taylor ran for one on Senior Day, and Painter Richards-Baker reached the end zone on a catch and a kickoff return.
Halloween was a nightmare for the visiting rivals, on a cool afternoon. The 63 points and 56-point margin are both records in the nearly century-long rivalry. “The Game” is the longest-running football series in North Carolina high school history. With the victory, Christ School (3-2) soared above .500 for this season under veteran head coach Nick Luhm.
Asheville School is 2-2 under Shawn Bryson, in his debut as its head coach. Bryson, who turns 44 on Nov. 30, was a bullish fullback for the Bills then Lions in the NFL. He starred in this area for Franklin High, then was a UT Vols captain on the 1998 national title team. Bryson was head coach at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School (Georgia). He has been a collegiate running backs coach.
The Blues lead the series at 50-40-4. But the Greenies have dominated this millennium, by winning 17 of the last 20 and a record ninth in a row.
With public schools’ seasons delayed at least into winter, these private school gridiron contests are the only football show in town.
This was no “green” energy conservation of the scoreboard, with such frequent use of its lights. Instead, the offensive onslaught might be termed the “Greenies New Deal”—and it was very taxing on the blue-clad squad. A running clock for the entire second half kept the game moving and the score down.
The teams scored six of their eight touchdowns in a sizzling second quarter. Three of them happened in nearly a blink of the eye, early in the quarter.
First was Mintz on a sizzling 72-yard TD jaunt up the middle. Stocky running back Mintz, in his second Greenies season after transferring from Cherokee, briskly spiked the ball in the end zone in celebration.
Then came a swap of kickoff return scores. Speedster Jaden “Cash” Watkins went untouched 84 yards for the Blues’ sole score, to make it 21-7. He gestured at a pursuer during the return, and was whistled for taunting. Then his score was promptly offset by Richards-Baker breaking through a coverage crowd for a 71-yard TD return.
Christ School struck on its initial scrimmage play, as swift former Swain Maroon Devil Sain dashed 47 yards along the left side to the 11. Simpkins leaped and passed up the middle to senior Charlie Browder in the end zone, for a six-yard score.
Mintz made his first of two Csonka impressions. He took a screen 32 yards, to the three. Four Blues converged on him. Mintz bowled them all over, and kept charging ahead. Sain bulled in from the two, and it was 14-0.
Mintz soon channeled Csonka again on Halloween. He gained 34 yards, to convert a first down on third-and-23 from his 37. He cut across the field and sped down the right side, then barreled over linebacker Jackson Moore. Mintz reached the Blues 29. Sain then dashed 29 yards, for a 35-7 lead.
Mauney ran seven yards for a TD. Soonafter, he hit Dartmouth recruit Richards-Baker in the end zone for a 25-yard score and 49-7 lead as the first half expired.
Christ School scored twice more in the third, ahead of a scoreless final quarter. Taylor ran 59 yards to paydirt, on the first scrimmage play of the second half. The final TD was when Gabe Berardi, like Browder a 6-foot-7 tight end, bobbed the ball at the Blues 48 but pulled it in and went the distance on a 50-yard play.
The Greenie QBs are also tall. Mauney, a sophomore transfer from East Rutherford, is 6’4”, and junior Simpkins is 6’3”.
An early Blues highlight was as Nic Zuber, a quick sophomore, caught a pass from junior QB Rayden Aphayvong for a 21-yard gain on third-and-four.
Christ School headmaster Paul Krieger, who is in his last academic year before retiring, was presented the series’ Fayssoux-Arbogast Trophy.
Christ School has won on the last three Saturdays. Fernando Machuca, a junior, booted a 31-yard field goal to edge Rabun Gap 38-35 on Oct. 17. That avenged a three-point loss at home September 25th. This time, Mintz ran for two TDs and caught a TD pass from Simpkins, who ran for a score.
The Greenies then edged Metrolina Christian 28-21. Simpkins connected with Mintz for a 78-yard score. Sain’s 28-yard TD scamper won it. Earlier, freshman Zack Myers made a 99-yard “pick six.” Richards-Baker snatched a Metrolina onside kick, and ran it back for a TD.
The Blues shut out Lakeway Christian Academy (Tennessee) 28-0 in their opener September 25th. They were edged 28-27 by visiting Charlotte Hickory Grove Christian. But three weeks later, they breezed by Matthews Covenant Day 44-7 on October 23rd.