Bearcats Surge On, Face Heritage Next - TribPapers
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Bearcats Surge On, Face Heritage Next

Photo by Pete Zamplas.

HendersonvilleHendersonville “Demolition Cats” continued leveling the opposition. They’re tuning up for their first major challenge, which is Daniel, SC at home this Friday.

HHS Bearcats won 55-8 at East Henderson Friday, after taking care of North Henderson 79-35  on the road then shutting out West Henderson 58-0 at home. 

West Henderson dropped a 26-14 home game Friday to Polk County, a renewed conference rival of HHS.

Four teams from Buncombe County won Friday. They are Erwin (34-20 at Tuscola), Asheville (16-14 at Brevard), A.C Reynolds (24-7 over Alexander Central), and Owen (34-21 at Albermarle) for Brint Russell’s first win leading his alma mater.

Asheville’s Deshaun Whitmire scored on a 55-yard pick six and on a run. Cougar sub quarterback Tre McGahee ran for 124 yards and Caleb Madden added 90. ACR QB Ricky Tolbert threw for a TD and ran for another.

T.C. Roberson lost 35-12 at Smoky Mountain. Ram QB Kam White ran for a 16-yard TD keeper. North Buncombe fell 44-30 at Andrews.

Face S.C. Champs Next

Next up for HHS (3-0) is South Carolina 3A spring season champ Daniel Lions. They are top-ranked. Passing of Trent Pearman to Eli Merck leads Daniel. This is very likely the best foe HHS faces all season. Daniel replaces COVID-idled Heritage on the schedule. So much for a vengeance game. Heritage ousted HHS in playoffs multiple recent times — including in double OT in 2A spring regional finals. HHS quarterback Gavin Gosnell had MHHS “on my mind” for a while.

HHS head coach Jim Sosebee coached Greenville (S.C.) High. He has S.C. contacts.

The Bearcats took care of business early and often Friday. Gosnell threw for four touchdowns — three to Eric Rasheed and one to Lennard Benniefield — and ran for another score. He has 14 TDs — averaging nearly five per game. He opened scoring with a 21-yard TD pass to Rasheed. The pair’s final TD pass play and Cooper King’s PAT provided a 48-0 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. That triggered a running clock.

The defense and special teams came up huge as well. Bennifield scored the last HHS TD on a “pick six” to close the third quarter. Linebacker Malachi Jacobs blocked East’s initial punt. C.J. Landrum scooped up the ball inside the Eagle 15 and ran it in for the second TD.

East spoiled the shutout with a mere half-minute to go on senior Isaiah Ibarra’s 42-yard TD run. The home crowd went wild on this Apple Festival weekend. The extra point snap was bobbled. But holder Isaac Burleson picked up the ball, sprinted right, found an opening and zipped into the end zone to score two more points.

Ibarra said the Eagles to the end “still had hope” for big plays and a score — and got one. That was more than cross-town rival West Henderson managed a week earlier versus HHS.

Gosnell praised how East disguised its defensive plays with pre-snap movement and how coverages varied.

HHS head coach Jim Sosebee said “we have to clean up mistakes” such as “a couple of drops, and on double-team blocks.”

East first-year head coach Bobby James said he is “proud of our effort.” He told the Eagles in the post-game huddle that “this game doesn’t define us.” He reminded them that most of the season is ahead including the all-important conference matchups, and that in watching the game’s film “we’ll learn lessons” and improve.

Several Eagle seniors chatted with Gosnell after the game. He played for East through his sophomore season before transferring to HHS. “It’s good to come back here” for a game, he said. “I’ll always love the people over there (East district).”

Eric Rasheed’s father Eric Rasheed played for Western Carolina Catamounts then in pro arena football in 1989. The younger Rasheed said his father’s advice about football is “to play with heart. Cherish these moments. They don’t last forever. It’s great to win. But most important is to have fun.”

Falcons Fight Back

West Henderson’s Truitt Manuel passed for 208 yards, two TDs and two interceptions including a 40-yard pick six with ten seconds left in the first half. Polk led 20-7 at halftime. Manuel ran for 32 yards. Several of his long gains were negated by holding penalties.

West scored a TD with 3:26 before halftime to spark some momentum. Lukas Corn caught a Manuel pass for an 11-yard TD. Corn caught seven passes for 115 yards. Andrew Schultz caught five passes. One was a 10-yard scoring pass. Manuel rolled to the left, bought much time, then fired a strike across his body to Schultz in the back of the end zone. Falcon head coach Paul Whitaker is proud West closed to within six points in the third quarter with that TD. Lawson Sullivan caught four passes.

Usual QB Lukas Kachilo practiced last week, Whitaker noted. But Kachilo was held out as a precaution as he recovers from an injury.

Both teams had star ball carriers play at QB. Casey Beiler missed the game due to COVID precautions. Star fullback Angus Weaver ran for two TDs and threw to Steven Chupp for a score.

There are two Buncombe-Henderson clashes this Friday. Owen welcomes North Henderson. North Buncombe hosts East Henderson. HHS hosts R-S Central. West is off, then plays at North Knights Sept. 17. Games start at 7:30 p.m.

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