Six weeks down, six weeks to go in the 2018 prep football regular season.
At the halfway point, Reynolds and Murphy have emerged as the favorites to win their conferences, not surprising for dominant programs who have been WNC's top two teams in terms of total wins over the past 10 years.
As they have been for several years, Mitchell and Mountain Heritage are once again the class of the Western Highlands Conference, and the winner of their showdown on Oct. 5 in Ledger will be the heavy favorite to go undefeated through league play.
And then there is the Mountain Six Conference.
While the other conferences – Western Mountain Athletic (23-27 overall record), Western Highlands (13-18) and Smoky Mountain (17-19) are bottom heavy with struggling teams – the Mountain Six is a combined 27-8.
There are the perennial powers like Pisgah (5-1), Franklin (4-2) and Hendersonville (4-2). And the upstarts - Brevard (5-1), East Henderson (5-1) and Smoky Mountain (4-1) - are also playing very well.
All teams are at least two games over .500, and conference play that begins Oct. 5 should be very interesting and exciting as teams battle for the league title and playoff berths.
Enough looking ahead. Here are the top performances from Week 6:
Nomi McMullens, Thomas Jefferson
The Gryphons' senior quarterback accounted for 358 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a 38-20 win over Cherryville.
He rushed for 248 yards and four scores and passed for 110 yards and a TD.
Nothing new for the leader of coach Jerry Cash's offense - in his fourth season with the program, McMullens has 6,837 yards of total offense.
Korey Griffith, Pisgah
After a slow start, the Bears' sophomore quarterback turned in his best game in a 54-6 rout of Polk County. Griffith was 15-of-17 for 268 yards and three scores. The youngster has thrown for 772 yards and seven scores while helping lead his team to a 5-1 start.
Luke Stewart, Rosman
The Tigers' quarterback completed 15-of-19 passes for 190 yards and two TDs and rushed for 37 yards and a pair of scores in a 46-27 win over Andrews.
Stewart (1,087 yards passing, 8 TDs) has thrown for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons and has 4,230 career passing yards.
Simeon Thompson, Erwin
The Warriors' versatile receiver had 14 touches for 215 all-purpose yards and three scores in a 36-8 win over North Buncombe.
He caught eight passes for 99 yards and two TDS, rushed three times for 79 yards and a score and returned three punts for 37 yards.
Quarterback Kendrick Weaver (21-of-28, 257 yards, 2 TDs) turned in another stellar effort.
Blake Gibson, Franklin
The Panthers' quarterback continued a sold season by completing 14-of-21 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-0 rout of Owen. Teammate Isaac Dewey paced the ground game with 11 rushes for 122 yards and a pair of TDs.
Gibson has thrown for 737 yards and eight scores this season.
Damian Lossiah, Swain County
The Maroon Devils' tailback ran 19 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-20 win over Hayesville.
He and fellow sophomore Bryce Sain have combined for 839 yards rushing and 11 scores this season.
Uchenna Ikwaukor, Asheville School
The Blues' running back had 165 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns in a 54-0 blowout of Statesville Christian.
He had scores of 23, 23 and 52 yards.
The Rams (1-5, 1-2) went into Friday’s game with West Henderson winless and allowing an average of 46 points a game.
But in the second half of a wild, back-and-forth 41-40 win, Roberson gut-checked its way to its first victory.
Four times in the third and fourth quarters, the Falcons scored to take a one-touchdown lead, and four times Roberson responded with a TD of its own.
The game-winner came with 46 seconds left after quarterback Ty Gossett (two TD passes and a 14-yard scoring run in the second half) and tailback Devin Credle (140 yards rushing, two TDs, 60-yard kickoff return) refused to let their team lose.
The Blue Devils hammered Chase 44-0 to continue an impressive run.
In a five-game winning streak, Brevard has outscored opponents 230-14 and the defense has pitched three shutouts.
Coach Craig Pritchett has three of the area’s top tacklers – Graham Phillips, Luke Ellenberger and Nick Bumgarner – that all rank among WNC’s top five in stops.
The Blues are 4-1 after unveiling their new $3 million athletic complex with a 54-0 win over Statesville Christian, the first night game at home in school history.
Coach Gus Schill’s top three runners – Uchenna Ikwuakor, Chris Hemphill and Titus Morrison – have combined to rush for 1,106 yards through five games.
After a 20-10 loss to Pisgah early in the season, the Mountaineers (4-1) have outscored opponents 125-28 in a three-game winning streak, including a 35-21 win Friday night against previously unbeaten Smoky Mountain.
Tailback Bailee Ewart has rushed for 628 yards for Tuscola, which has a chance to prove it is for real this week under first-year coach JT Postell with a game at Reynolds.
On a modest two-game winning streak after a Smoky Mountain Conference win against Andrews, give the Tigers (2-4, 1-1) credit for hanging tough against a killer schedule.
After non-conference games against East Henderson, Brevard and Mountain Heritage – schools that are a combined 14-3 – coach Matt Stack’s squad (2-4, 1-0) has four straight SMC games coming up against Robbinsville, Cherokee, Swain and Murphy.
No WNC team has a more challenging slate of games.
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