Beyond the Scoreboard: Previewing the 2018 WNC high-school football season


(Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

In terms of record-setting and record-breaking performances, the 2017 high-school season in WNC football was unprecedented.

Thanks to unparalleled efforts by quarterbacks Trey Robinson (Mountain Heritage), Ben Young (Mitchell), Tye Mintz (Cherokee) and receiver Tykel Landrum (Hendersonville), many career records were established.

In terms of total yards gained, rushing yards, receiving yards and touchdowns produced by receiving, rushing and total scores, all those new No. 1 marks were set last season.

And while those four superstars are headed to college to continue their careers, there is still plenty of returning talent ready to make the 2018 season just as exciting.

With three quarterbacks who threw for more than 2,500 yards, two running backs who gained more than 2,000 yards and a 1,200-yard receiver coming back, scoreboards will be lit up again when the season kicks off on Aug. 17.

Alex Flinn leads a parade of quarterbacks across WNC coming off great years - a total of six who threw for more than 1,600 yards in 2017.

Of course, 1,600 yards was just a good month for the Reynolds High passer, who had one of the best seasons in the history of mountain football.

An East Carolina commit, Flinn threw for 3,972 yards and 40 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions while leading the Rockets to a 14-2 record and a berth in the 3A state title game.

As a sophomore, Three Hillier set a school record at Asheville High by passing for 2,570 yards, with 17 touchdowns. Coach David Burnette will build his offense around his rising star.

Ty Gossett has thrown for 4,945 yards and 46 TDs the past two seasons for Roberson, and he is coming off a 2,528-yard, 26-TD junior year.

On the ground, Robbinsville’s Rylee Anderson and Christ School’s Sidney Gibbs both passed the magical 2,000-yard mark last season.

As a sophomore, Anderson ran for 2,031 yards and 18 TDs to lead a Black Knights team that piled up 3,997 yards rushing.

Gibbs, who rushed for 1,750 yards and 19 scores at Owen High in 2015 before missing the 2016 season with a knee injury, bounced back impressively last year.

In just nine games with the Greenies, Gibbs piled up 2,029 yards and 14 TDs.

WNC’s top returning receiver is Hendersonville’s Kalin Ensley. A rangy 6-4 speedster, Ensley caught 63 passes for 1,258 yards and 19 TDs as a junior while teaming with Landrum in what may have been WNC’s best receiving duo in history.

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