MAC Powers Tune Up For Openers - TribPapers

MAC Powers Tune Up For Openers

Roberson QB Lex Dinwiddie has a spurt in his growth and confidence. Devon Hollis (21) blocks a Tuscola pass rusher. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Asheville – Four MAC powers each scrimmaged in a jamboree at Asheville High Friday, a week ahead of the regular season that starts Aug. 19. T.C. Roberson shut out Tuscola 14-0, then Reynolds blanked Smoky Mountain 14-0. That was two days after ACR handled Hendersonville (HHS). HHS defeated Erwin 28-14. Then, in the finale, host AHS gave up a quick TD but fought hard in dropping a 9-6 defensive struggle to 5A power Dorman from Spartanburg, S.C.

Both Asheville and Reynolds in the off-season lost their starting QBs from last season to local private schools, where they gained an extra year of eligibility. Khalil Conley, also the AHS baseball leadoff hitter, went to Christ School. Asheville School secured ACR QB Tolbert after his sophomore year at ACR.

Hayden Craig is now firing missiles for ACR Rockets. He is a six-foot, 180-pound junior. Craig looked poised in scrimmages and when interviewed. He said he takes “pride in the game’s strategy, to play smart,” extend plays and “find open receivers.” Head coach Shane Laws likes Craig’s skills and intangibles and the balance of ACR’s offense.

Max Guest exploded onto the scene as a freshman last fall. He ran for 820 yards and 11 TDs. Look for greater feats. Guest claims that running gives him more balance and control. As Laws said, “This is a fast team.”
Conley’s successor is a confident Meek Slydell. He shrugs off the standard split-second challenge for a dual QB of deciding when to run and when to pass. His proven targets include Heff Finley, Deshaun Whitmire, and Noah Shaw. Newcomer Tayveon Porter, a transfer from Charlotte, scored the sole AHS TD Friday on a long run and a reception. The slot receiver grinned and called such a breakthrough play simply a “blessing.”

The Cougars are reflecting head coach Cort Radford’s view that they not only want to repeat as MAC champs, but go further in the 4A playoffs. Reynolds, meanwhile, is literally seeing red with vengeance against AHS, making it a top priority. That other red team, Erwin, is in sight as well.

Veteran Iggy

Erwin features the most proven and prolific quarterback in burly senior Iggy Welch. He is 6-3 and stout enough to also play defensive end. Welch is “stoked” about his last chance to try to win the MAC. Last season, he threw for 1,774 yards but had nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. He said he improved in his reading of defenses.
He has several swift tall receivers to choose from, such as Demetrase “Mechie” Graves and Tyviaun “Ty” Johnson. Head coach Rodney Pruitt is eager for Welch’s encore season.

Enka and Roberson both have QBs who played a lot last year, grew a lot in the offseason, and are much stronger and faster at running and throwing. Enka’s Cam Wait grew three inches and added 15 pounds. He is now 5-11 and weighs 150. In his second year of boosting Enka as the head coach, Mike Sexton said, “Cam can make every throw in the arsenal.” Wait is proud that the Jets notched a rare win over Roberson last season.

The Rams want to return to such exploits in this, their second year as a triple option offense after years of relying on the spread. Head coach Jason Dinwiddie has the offense’s keys in the hands of his QB son, Lex Dinwiddie. Lex quarterbacked the Rams for most of last fall. He has since grown five inches to six feet and added 30 pounds to weigh 175.

Lex is tough. On Friday, Lex was hit hard and shaken up early, but he shrugged it off. Rather than dwell on any misfortune or mishap, he said, “I focus on the next play.” He returned, and soon after smashed in for a TD keeper.
Lex said he and his father watch game film at home at times, but mostly keep football for the TCR campus. “When I’m home, I’m ‘Dad,'” Coach Dinwiddie said. He said, as the coach, he is as hard on his son as others, and Lex agreed. Lex is aware of his father’s intense motivation as well as his lighter side. He likes how “Dad cracks jokes” at home.

Two Buncombe public high schools have new head coaches. North Buncombe’s tough but jovial David Hines has two QBs to choose from. They are big senior Gabe Banks and stocky junior Alex Rash. Hines observed that “Gabe’s a fighter,” a leader who is inquisitive and goes all out.

He said Rash has a naturally strong motion. Intense, reserved Rash appreciates how Coach Hines “makes it exciting” with energy and humor mixed into detailed instruction. The Hawks are eager to bounce back from a winless season plagued by COVID absences.

Zach Gibson now leads Owen Warhorses. Experienced senior QB Alex Sanchez has “all the athletic ability and intangibles you want” to both run and pass, and get on teammates as needed, Gibson said. Gibson is letting the team’ seniors choose five season-long objectives. Making the playoffs again by beating the Western Highland Conference’s only other 2A team, Madison, is a start. Finishing at least .500 again in the league helps. The Warhorses want to do better. Both Owen and North Buncombe play Madison at Mars Hill College, since Madison’s stadium needs repairs. These teams hope for extra fan turnout and support.