Reynolds football begins Western Mountain Athletic 3-A Conference play this week with some impressive streaks to protect and very likely to extend.
In fact, the Rockets can lay claim to the title of WNC’s most dominant program over recent history, a run of strong play that dates back decades.
When Reynolds (2-1), ranked third in the WLOS WNC Top 10 Football Poll, hosts Erwin (0-2) in a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday, the Rockets will be looking to continue a run of 25 straight wins over WNC opponents, a streak that began midway through the 2014 season.
Coach Shane Laws’ squad won what was the Mountain Athletic Conference title each of the past two seasons, going undefeated and rolling through its opponents.
In 18 straight wins against league opponents over the past three seasons, which include two playoff wins, Reynolds has averaged 53 points a game and has outscored the vanquished teams by an average margin of 36 points.
“We’re certainly proud of (those streaks),” said head coach Shane Laws, who is 100-35 in his 11th season with the Rockets.
“We’ve fortunate in the past few years to have had some really good football players, and I feel like I have one of the best coaching staffs in the state.
“When you put those two things together, you have the opportunity to be successful.”
If those kinds of numbers sound familiar, it’s because they are.
Reynolds has shown this level of domination before, going back to the 1980s.
From 1983-89, the Rockets were 41-3 in conference play under coach Scott Conner.
A 40-3 run through league opponents from 1996-2003 included a pair of state 4-A titles with coach Bobby Poss.
From 2005-10, Reynolds was 34-2 in the MAC.
The most impressive number? Perhaps it is the 27 straight conference wins from 1985-89, a streak that ended early in the 1990 season with a 13-12 shocker by North Buncombe, a year after the Rockets bombed the Black Hawks 70-0.
That win by North Buncombe ended a Reynolds run of 33 consecutive wins against local opponents.
“With the tradition we have here, our kids expect to be successful,” said Laws. “In order to do that, they know it takes a lot of work, and to their credit, they come to practice every day looking to get better.
“We have a wall in our locker room where we put a football up for winning a championship. Our guys look at that wall every day, and there’s a lot of footballs up there.
“You don’t want to be the team that doesn’t have a ball up there. In this community, if you don’t win people wonder what’s wrong with you.”
Other schools have also posted impressive surges over conference teams.
From 2002-14, Asheville High was 76-8 in league play, a run that included seven undefeated league championships.
A recent streak by Franklin includes a 33-2 mark in conference games (2011-2015) and a 41-3 record vs. WNC schools (2011-14).
Murphy has been the king of the Smoky Mountain Conference for some time, posting a 47-7 run from 2008-2016.
And based on non-conference results, it doesn’t appear that a WMAC team can threaten the Rockets this season, who have reached the 50-point line in wins over Southern Durham (50-9) and Owen (52-0) sandwiched around a 29-8 loss to Shelby, the top-ranked 2-A team in the state.
The other eight league teams are a combined 6-16 though the first three weeks of the season.
“We’re fairly healthy and we know what a big deal this game is,” Laws said of the league opener Friday vs. the Warriors.
“Our guys know this is a conference game, and it’s Erwin, and they are always ready to play us.”