Early on in the high-school football season, most teams are still searching for who they are, an identify to define what kind of program they will be in 2017.
That’s the case for both teams in this week’s edition of the “Thursday Night Lights” battle when Enka hosts Robbinsville in a 7 p.m. kickoff on MY 40.
For the Jets (1-1), they want to be more of the squad that started the season with optimism after a close 14-12 win vs. Owen than the group that got smoked 35-0 by Pisgah last week.
And Robbinsville (1-0), ranked 9th in the WLOS WNC Top 10 Poll, doesn’t want to be lulled into a false sense of cockiness after a 61-0 rout of North Georgia in the season opener last week.
“They were missing some of their better players due to injury, and our starters didn’t play after the first quarter,” said Robbinsville coach Dee Walsh, who has a long history with the storied football program that has won a N.C.-best 14 state 1-A titles.
He has been a player, assistant coach and head coach for the Black Knights, who are coming off a rare losing season (4-7 in 2016).
The Black Knights posted a 46-10 mark from 2012-15, including a 16-0 romp to a state title in 2014.
In addition to finding out more about who his team is on Thursday night, Walsh is concerned about Enka’s size.
“They are big and physical,” said Walsh, who saw the Owen game and came away impressed.
“They played real sound fundamentally, no mistakes. They are much bigger physically than us on both sides of the ball.”
“We are looking forward to playing on TV and getting a full game out of our starters.”
Coach Jeff Frady says a physical style of football is what his Enka team wants to employ every week.
“I’ve been impressed with our physicality,” he said. “We have a different attitude this year, and I think Robbinsville plays the same kind of game.
“It’s going to be a physical game from both sides, a real pound-and-ground type of play.”
While the Jets are trying to turn around a program that has long struggled – no winning season since 1997 – Frady said a strong showing against a successful program like Robbinsville will provide his team with a lot of confidence.
“We know they have a storied program and coach Walsh and his staff do a fantastic job of keeping that tradition going,” Frady said.
“We’ve played well defensively and have had kids in the right places, and we will have to do that against a good Robbinsville team.”
Robbinsville (2-0) rolled to a 32-3 win Thursday night on a rainy night in Enka, with the defense limiting the Jets to 191 yards.
Rylee Anderson rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown, while Ian Wiggins added 82 yards on the ground and two scores.
Rushing leaders for Enka (1-2) included Chance Cryderman (114 yards) and Jackson Smith (88 yards).
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