The contrasts between Erwin High and Mountain Heritage football couldn’t be much starker.
When the Warriors travel to Burnsville Thursday to play the Cougars in a 7 p.m. start on the second edition of “Thursday Night Lights” on MY 40, it indeed will be a tale of two teams.
Erwin (0-1) is a spread offense that throws the ball at will.
Mountain Heritage likes to play smash-mouth offense, led by double-threat quarterback Joey Robinson.
And while the Cougars (1-0) enjoy the stability of Robinson, who will start his 39th straight game under center over four seasons, Erwin is switching starting quarterbacks in the second week of the season.
Junior QB Riley Towles started last week, a 21-14 home loss to Mitchell, but gave way to Owen transfer Kendrick Weaver, who led the Warriors to touchdowns on the first two possessions after he took over in the second half.
That was enough to convince first-year coach Rodney Pruett to give Weaver the start at Mountain Heritage.
“We feel like (Weaver) earned the start based on what he did last week,” said Pruett. “It’s not Riley did anything wrong, but Kendrick led us to two good drives. And Riley will be prepared to play if we need him.”
Pruett recognizes the differences in quarterback experience, noting that Robinson – the son of coach Joey Robinson – has been a starter since his freshman season.
When you have your son at quarterback and it’s his fourth year as a starter, and he has been really successful, it’s like having a coach on the field,” said Pruett, a long-time Erwin assistant who took over for coach Mike Sexton.
“Their offense is a fine-tuned machine, with (Trey Robinson) leading the charge.”
Robinson, on pace to become WNC’s all-time leading rusher this season, piled up 312 yards on the ground last week to key a 30-7 win over Brevard.
“It really helps to have a quarterback like Trey, who has so much experience and maturity,” said his proud father.
“He can change plays at the line and get us in the right place, and that’s a big plus.”
Last year, the Cougars blitzed Erwin at home in a 58-31 surprise, snapping a streak of losing to the Warriors for seven straight seasons.
“They laid a whoopin’ on us last year. Outplayed us and outcoached us,” said Pruett. “Our players haven’t forgotten that.”
After missing four starters on defense last week due to injuries, Pruett welcomes back defensive end Logan Lusk and defensive back Jacob Silver, though the Warriors will have to do without injured linebacker Simeon Thompson.
One thing the programs have in common is recent success. The Warriors have enjoyed nine straight winning seasons, posting a 74-38 mark in that span.
Mountain Heritage has had similar success in those nine years (77-38), and they are coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons.
“I’m sure they remember last year’s game and will be ready for us,” said coach Robinson. “Erwin has great athletes and they are a tough match-up for us, and we will have to play perfect to win.”