Beyond the Scoreboard: Trey and Ben – two very good quarterbacks duel it out Friday night
In French, the translation means very good.
Trey and Ben.
In the northeastern mountains of Western North Carolina, it means the same as in Paris.
Not a lot of mountain folk speaking French in Burnsville and Ledger, but when they talk football – and they do that a lot these days, thanks to the success of their high school teams – it doesn’t take long for the conversation to come around to Trey and Ben.
Very good. Very, very good.
Trey Robinson at Mountain Heritage, and Ben Young at Mitchell. Both have been starting quarterbacks since the beginning of their freshmen seasons in high school, when each was too young to drive.
Now as seniors, Ben has started all 50 games under center for the Mountaineers, and Trey has likewise never missed a game, 44 consecutive starts.
And they have done more than play in every game. They have combined to post a 74-20 record for the teams under their guidance.
And they have been buddies since childhood, once playing on the same Little League baseball team.
“Ben was pretty much my best friend when (I was growing up) in Mitchell County,” said Trey. “And we’re still friends. We still talk, he actually texted me on Sunday.”
“We were always hanging out when we were kids,” said Ben. “And we keep in touch. When we play, we are enemies, but outside football, he’s just Trey.”
Based on the consistently strong play of the quarterbacks, their two teams have shared the Western Highlands Conference regular-season crown each of the past two seasons.
Trey and Ben squared off in the eighth grade for a middle school championship when they were 14 years old (Trey’s team won, starting a pattern), and they have held annual battles each year since then.
Trey’s Cougars have gotten the better of Ben’s Mountaineers each of the past two seasons, and Friday night in Burnsville they will meet for the final time as high school superstars, both teams undefeated and in all likelihood playing for yet another WHC title.
“Those guys have been competing against each other since about the third grade,” said Mitchell coach Travise Pittman.
“They have really battled it out. I have tremendous respect for Trey and what he has done. He’s a tough kid – he carries the ball like 30 times a game, and he keeps on ticking.”
And while the outcome of their teams on Friday night will likely depend on how well they play – usually does with the quarterback – their individual statistical battle will continue to add to the legacies of both.
Put simply, those fortunate enough to witness the game Friday night at Cougars Stadium will be watching history, for it will be the coming together of two of the best quarterbacks – and among the best football players – to ever strap on the pads in WNC.
Trey is already in the record books and is adding to his totals at an epic pace. His 10,514 total yards (6,529 rushing, 3,985 passing) are the most ever in mountain football, as are his 131 touchdowns via the air and ground (80 rushing, 51 passing).
He is on pace (427 rushing yards away) to pass Owen High’s Jager Gardner (6,955 yards) to become WNC’s all-time leading rusher.
This year through five games, he has rushed for a WNC-best 1,112 yards and 16 touchdowns and passed for 456 yards and three scores.
Which means if he stays healthy and on pace, he will leave the Cougars as WNC’s most prolific rusher, scorer and total yardage leader in the history of a sport that dates back as much as 100 years.
And Ben isn’t far behind.
His numbers have been more modest this season (574 yards passing, 9 TDs, 426 yards rushing, 5 scores) because he has a deep roster of talented skill position players, but he still has 9,702 yards of total offense in four years.
He is currently 579 yards behind WNC’s all-time No. 2 in total yards, Erwin quarterback Damien Ferguson (10,281 yards).
Again, barring injury and staying on pace, Ben (6,769 yards passing, 2,933 yards rushing) should finish second behind Trey among WNC’s career total yardage leaders.
“I think that’s very special for our two counties (Yancey and Mitchell),” said Pittman. “For them to bring that kind of recognition to our schools, and for them to bring that kind of talent and achievement over four years, is really special.”
“I think it’s pretty amazing that two quarterbacks that close have done those things, but I don’t think about that,” said Ben, 18.
“(Statistics) don’t matter to me. If I carry the ball one time and we win, then that’s fine.”
Trey, 18, inherited the Cougars’ starting quarterback job from his older brother Trevor in 2014.
He was age 15, and on the first play from scrimmage in his opening varsity game, there was a bad snap from center and Trey got creamed for an 8-yard loss.
But a couple of plays later, he ran for 20 yards, and an unparalleled career of gaining yardage was off and running (and passing).
Ben also had a moment of truth in his first start as a 15-year-old freshman. Late in the first half, he ran a two-minute drill to perfection and completed several passes, including one for a touchdown. He has since thrown 57 others for scores.
He ranks second behind Trey in career touchdown responsibility in WNC with 118.
Trey said he is proud of being WNC’s all-time leader in total yardage but it is not as important as his main job as a quarterback – winning games.
“It’s definitely a life accomplishment and something to be proud of, but it happened because I’ve played with some great teammates who are a big part of the record,” Trey said.
“Trey is a great guy and as good a football player as I’ve ever seen, and such a hard worker,” said Ben.
“What he has done is not by chance. He’s worked at it.”
And what they have both done is way beyond gaudy statistics – they have produced winning football.
The Mountaineers were 2-21 the two seasons prior to Ben’s arrival.
As a starter, he has led Mitchell to a 41-9 record, into the playoffs all three seasons and to the state 1-AA title game in 2015.
“Ben has had a great career, and has been a great leader,” said Trey. “He’s done a great job with his team, led them to a state championship game.”
The Mountaineers are 33-4 the past three seasons, including a 6-0 start this year. Their only two regular-season losses since 2014 have been to Trey and Mountain Heritage.
The Cougars were 15-18 in three seasons before Trey took over. They are 33-11 since, with three playoff appearances. Their record the past three years, including 5-0 this season, is 27-5.
“They are both great kids,” said Mountain Heritage coach Joey Robinson, Trey’s father. “I’ve known Ben since he was a kid, and he’s from a great family and he’s an exceptional young man.
“They have both excelled because they have had great teammates and because they put the time in, the hard work to get better. They are great leaders who have taken their teams to great success.”
Trey and Ben.
Very good, indeed.