Beyond the Scoreboard: Rare football win ahead for Enka or North Buncombe
The good news is one football team is going to get a badly-needed and rare win Friday night when North Buncombe travels to Enka for a 7 pm kickoff in Week 7 of high-school play.
The bad news is the misery of losing will continue for the other program.
Times are tough for both schools, and have been in recent years.
North Buncombe (0-6, 0-3) is in the throes of a 20-game losing streak, the last victory coming in 2015.
That is the lowlight of a nine-year stretch in which the Black Hawks has struggled through a 19-76 record.
Enka’s dismay goes back even further – the Jets (1-5, 0-3) haven’t won a conference title in 45 years, haven’t had a winning season since 1997 and are on pace to lose seven games or more for a 16th straight year.
Painful numbers to read and digest, and coaches at both schools admit that – in all honesty – their players recognize this is a much more realistic chance at a win.
“It’s like I told (North Buncombe coach Brandon Allen), somebody’s going to win Friday night, and that’s a good thing,” said Enka coach Jeff Frady, who has watched his team go through a stretch that includes games against Pisgah, Robbinsville, Tuscola, Reynolds and Asheville in consecutive weeks.
“We started the conference season against Tuscola, Reynolds and Asheville, and that’s three pretty dang good football teams,” he said.
“We’re used to it, because for years we opened up with Erwin, Asheville and Reynolds. Because we’ve done it for so many years, the kids know what’s it’s like to come out of that and it’s like you just give up on the season.
“But now our kids know that stretch is behind us and we’ve had a great week of practice, settling in to what team we’re going to be.”
Offensively, that’s straight up, right up the gut power football with a large offensive line opening up holes for Jackson Smith (343 yards rushing) and Austin Clark (140 yards in three games).
The Jets lost top rusher Chance Cryderman (277 yards on the ground) to a knee injury earlier this season.
In addition to running the team at quarterback, Chase Bennett (34 tackles, 28 solo) has been pacing the defense as a linebacker.
Allen, who directed the Black Hawks for one season in a previous stint as head coach in 2011, is looking for his first win with the program after 17 games.
“You like to think as a coach that your kids look at every game with the hope of winning, but realistically, our kids look at this game – and not to take anything away from Enka – as a chance that if you play your best, that might be good enough to pull off a win,” Allen said.
North Buncombe is down to a 20-player roster after sustaining nearly a dozen season-ending injuries, and those 20 include three junior varsity players not only promoted but thrust into the starting lineup.
The Black Hawks’ bright spot has been tailback Nick Lisenbee , who has 2,213 career rushing yards, including 491 this season.
He is among several Black Hawks who rarely if ever come off the field.
“We don’t really get to talk to them during the game, just at halftime and water breaks,” said Allen.
“That makes it tough all around.”
Both teams have struggled on both sides of the ball in losing three Western Mountain Athletic Conference games. North Buncombe has been outscored 135-19, Enka by a 141-14 count.