Mills River – WNC leading rusher Carson Dimsdale rushed for 231 yards and two scores as West Henderson pounded 30-10 Pisgah Friday at home in a showdown of unbeaten teams, to move alone into first place in Mountain Seven football standings.
This is the third game this season in which Dimsdale rushed for more than 230 yards. He ran three yards for West’s first touchdown — with just under a minute left in the opening quarter — and dashed nine yards for the only score of the fourth quarter. The gutsy, stocky senior ran past the Bears for half of the field to set up his first TD run.
Dimsdale ran for three scores a week earlier, as West rallied from 11-0 down to win 28-13 at Smoky Mountain. He leads WNC runners with 1,290 yards. Dimsdale has 20 rushing TDs, averaging 2.5 per game.
Dimsdale grinned about winning the war in the trenches — and downfield.
Driving Haywood Haywire
West (8-0; 4-0 M7) outscored the Black Bears (6-1; 2-1) by 17-3 in the decisive second quarter, with talented sophomore Cade Young at quarterback. Just like last season when blasting Tuscola, the Falcons kept up intensity to bury a Haywood County team in a battle of unbeaten teams.
“Way to finish!,” head coach Paul Whitaker told his Falcons in the post-victory huddle. He singled out blocking to drive downfield and “control the clock,” and special teams play. West averaged 6.5 yards, in rolling up 278 rushing yards on 43 carries.
The Falcons finished the 2022 regular season undefeated. They are eager to do so again. They will by beating Franklin at home on Oct. 20, after an off week, then Tuscola away. Whitaker noted in the post-victory huddle that “back-to-back undefeated” is around the corner.
Several Falcons said that beating Pisgah was extra rewarding, given how hard-hitting the Bear defense is. That unit was praised by some in the media as the best in the conference. That irked many Falcons, such as robo-tackling senior LB Eben Mann. He is proud to rise to the challenge, to show which defense and overall team reigns supreme.
Mann recovered a Bear fumble, after fellow linebacker Jude Lyda knocked the ball loose. Senior Lyda smiled about going toe to toe with the big bad Bears, and prevailing.
Lyda, one of two West quarterbacks, is nursing a shoulder injury. He ran one yard on a keeper for a go-ahead TD in the second quarter, when the teams traded long field goals.
Star receiver Truitt Manuel said the hard-hitting battle was about “BYOG — bring your own guts.” Manuel said, “Our guys were ready from the get-go. I’m proud of how they competed.”
Fellow senior receiver Diego Castro, who caught five passes, called the huge triumph a “crazy experience.” He said, “Everyone had a hand in it. We made big plays — often.”
“Back to the Mill!” is what Falcon players chanted in their victory huddle. The long-running paper mill in Canton closed weeks ago.
Young’s Perfect Throw
Young had a career game, in starting for the second straight week with Lyda ailing. He was accurate as usual, completing 15 of 18 passes for 176 yards.
Young’s crowning moment was his pinpoint-accurate 18-yard pass to Manuel, for a commanding 23-7 lead. Young arced the ball just over the Bear defender’s reach into Manuel’s hands in the end zone, 27.4 seconds before halftime. Manuel has nine receiving TDs — averaging just more than one per game.
“Truitt definitely was ready for it,” Young said of the TD pass. “We just needed a route. We knew that it was gonna be a good play.” Young is pleased with the Falcon offensive “production.” West averaged a 50-9 score in its first six wins.
Young said confidence soared once “we figured out their defense. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen” in the remaining season and playoffs.
Manuel had 106 receiving yards in the game, and 681 on the season thus far. He and Castro both average about 20 yards per reception.
Knights, Bearcats Win
A week earlier, West won 28-13 at Smoky Mountain. The M7 standings are: West 4-0, Pisgah 2-1, North Henderson (2-2; 5-2), Franklin (2-2; 2-5), Tuscola 1-2 (3-4), SMHS (1-2; 2-5), and East Henderson 0-4 (0-7). THS won 41-0 at East.
North Henderson (5-2; 2-2 M7) moved into third place, by walloping Franklin 31-10 at home Friday. Zion Fauntleroy-McDaniel and Mason Gasperson each rushed for two TDs. Zion dashed 80 yards for a score. NHHS plays at East on Friday.
Hendersonville’s burly C.J. Landrum smashed in for the winning TD in overtime, as HHS (3-5; 2-2 MFC) beat East Rutherford 41-35 at home. The first two Bearcat scores were on runs by freshman QB JaRon Ward, and junior Hezzie Rudisill for 35 yards. Rudisill is approaching 1,000 rushing yards.