One of the highlights of high-school football is watching the all-around talents of the area's best players.
Most teams are forced to use their top players the entire 48 minutes on offense, defense and special teams.
That creates opportunities for very talented athletes to showcase their variety of skills.
Such was the case Friday night at Brevard High, when the Blue Devils played Hendersonville.
The Bearcats' Kalin Ensley and Brevard's Luke Ellenberger put on a show of versatility and skill that makes them two of the best in WNC.
Ellenberger was all over the field and finished with 273 total yards.
A kickoff return of more than 60 yards and a 40-yard punt return set his offense up in great field position for two early scores, and his ball-hawking defense from the secondary allowed him to finish with three interceptions that keyed a 45-31 victory.
He played nearly every down, caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown and had his fingerprints all over the victory.
Coastal Carolina is getting a good one.
Ensley's all-around skills were evident from the first snap.
On Hendersonville's first three offensive plays, Ensley completed a pass for four yards, had a nine-yard run and caught a four-yard pass.
Playing at quarterback in Wildcat formations and his normal position as a receiver, Ensley led the team in rushing (eight carries for 68 yards), caught four passes for 59 yards - including a 35-yard score on a fly pattern - and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a TD.
He finished with more than 200 total yards.
Other top performances:
Nomi McMullens, Thomas Jefferson
As he winds down one of WNC's most prolific careers, McMullens ran for 217 yards and four scores in a 32-27 win over Mountain Island Charter.
In four seasons with the Gryphons, the senior quarterback has 8,401 yards of total offense (ninth all-time in WNC) and has accounted for 126 touchdowns (third on the area's career list).
Zidyan Phoeun, North Henderson
In a 62-18 loss at Erwin, the Knights' junior tailback rushed 36 times for 240 yards and three scores, He had touchdown runs of 38, 42 and 65 yards.
Jake Autrey, Mountain Heritage
The Cougars' senior tailback ran for 166 yards and three scores and caught a 47-yard TD pass in a 51-15 romp over Polk County. On a team that has rushed for more than 3,000 yards, Autry is the top ground-gainer (962 yards, 13 scores) and needs 38 more yards to become the sixth different Cougar to rush for more than 1,000 yards in the past six seasons.
Simeon Thompson, Erwin
From a family that knows how to catch the football and what to do with it after the catch, Thompson had nine receptions for 187 yards and four scores in a 62-18 win over North Henderson. Following in the footsteps of older brother C.J. Thompson (161 catches, 2,033 yards, 28 TDs from 2014-16), the Warriors have had a Thompson at wide receiver for each of the past five seasons.
In that span, the brothers have combined for 268 catches for 3,814 yards and 60 scores.
Noah Pitman, Mitchell
One of only two quarterbacks in WNC (McMullens is the other) to pass and rush for more than 1,000 yards this season, Pitman had 234 yards of total offense in a 62-14 romp over Avery County.
He completed 5-of-10 passes for 107 yards, but four of those were for touchdowns, and he rushed 11 times for 127 yards. And in his spare time, he scored on a 20-yard interception return.
In his first season as a starting QB, Pitman has passed for 1,153 yards and 19 TDs and rushed for 1,107 yards and eight scores.
Give the Falcons (4-6, 2-5) credit for one of the grittiest efforts of the season. Against powerful Reynolds, West Henderson took a 14-0 lead before dropping a 21-14 decision to the area's most dominant program. That's the first time in 23 games over two-plus seasons that a local team has finished within single digits of the Rockets at the final horn.
A 28-7 win over Roberson sealed a playoff berth for the Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2) under first-year coach JT Postell. Tuscola will play for a share of second place in the Western Mountain Athletic Conference at home Friday night vs. Erwin.
A gut-check victory for the Blue Devils, 45-31 over Hendersonville. With starting quarterback Mitchell Johnson out with an injury, reserve Keenen Hawkins (10-for-19, 146 yards, two scores) stepped up. The Blue Devils (8-2, 3-1) host Pisgah (9-1, 4 0) Friday night with a chance to win a share of the Mountain Six Conference.
Coach Dee Walsh's squad improved to 8-2 (4-1 in the Smoky Mountain Conference) and likely secured second place in the league with a 14-6 win over Swain County. The Black Knights have won four in a row and five of their last six and will head into the playoffs with plenty of momentum.
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