Something has to give Friday night when two football programs unaccustomed to losing meet, each looking for their initial win.
In records dating back to the formation of Roberson High in 1962, the Rams and Asheville High have never shared a season in which both started 0-3.
But that’s where these two Buncombe County schools find themselves after unproductive non-conference games and heading into the start of Western Mountain Athletic 3-A Conference play.
When the Rams visit the Cougars for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday, the good news is one team will earn a much needed win. The bad news is the other will sink deeper into the winless abyss.
For Asheville High, this is the first 0-3 start since 1986 and only the third time in the last 60-plus seasons the program has opened with three consecutive defeats.
Roberson is 0-3 for the first time since the 1994 squad began 0-6.
The Cougars under second-year coach David Burdette have been outscored 97-39 in losses to Franklin, Webb (Tenn.) and North Davidson.
Roberson has been more competitive but still is not making enough plays after losses to Watauga (35-34), Crest (21-14) and Kings Mountain (38-21).
“Either way, somebody is going to come away with their first win, and with it being the first conference game, it’s big night for both teams with a lot at stake,” said Rams coach J.D. Dinwiddie, whose first team in Skyland finished 8-4, including a 12-11 win vs. Asheville.
“We’ve got to be more consistent in crucial situations,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re right there on the edge. I think we can be a good team, but, at the end of the day, the kids have to decide if they want to be a good team or not.”
Dinwiddie said he and his players remain optimistic despite the slow start.
“Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot, and we have to stop doing that. We could easily be 3-0, but we’re not. The effort has been fantastic – the kids are trying hard and playing hard, and, if we can put it all together, we’re going to be OK.”
Quarterback Ty Gossett is looking to improve his accuracy (48-of-99), but he has thrown for 537 yards and five touchdowns, along with five interceptions.
The Cougars have struggled at times on both sides of the ball and are led offensively by sophomore quarterback Three Hillier and tailback Corey Clement.
Burdette said a lack of poise at critical times has hurt his team.
“We’ve had some players mentally lose their cool. Our biggest problem has been our kids have gotten frustrated and panicked too soon,” he said.
A long talk with his team earlier this week and some adjustments seem to have helped, and Burdette hopes to see improvements on the field against the Rams.
“We’ve played good opponents (all three are ranked in their state’s top 10 in their classification), and we’ve been humbled, which can be a good thing,” Burdette said.
“Conference championships are what we are about (10 league titles since 2002), and we can get started on that goal Friday night.”