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Beyond the Scoreboard: Enka vs. North Henderson in battle of win-less teams

ERWIN AT ENKA.transfer_frame_2771.jpg
Photo credit: WLOS Staff

Call in the 0 Bowl, or maybe the Woe Bowl.

Truth is, when WNC's only two winless football teams square off Friday night in the regular-season finale for both teams, it will mark the merciful end to a long three months of losing and frustration.

But for either Enka or North Henderson, it will also produce a rare moment - a victory for one of the two programs with the longest losing streaks in the mountains.

Enka (0-10, 0-7) has been trying to figure it out for more than a half century - just 11 winning seasons since 1955, none since 1997. This marks the 18th straight season of finishing under .500.

The Jets' last victory came in this match-up last season, 34-31 in overtime in the final game of the 2017 season.

North Henderson (0-10, 0-7) has lost 18 straight the past two seasons after a promising 2-1 start for new coach Zach Wilkins in 2017.

Both teams have struggled to be competitive while playing in the challenging Western Mountain Athletic Conference - the Jets have been outscored 437-74 and haven't come closer to winning than 15-point loss to North Buncombe.

It's an even wider gap for the Knights - outscored 484-88, and when the final horn sounded through 10 games they haven't been closer than 33 points.

There has been an occasional ray of hope filtering through some some heavy, dark clouds - in the loss to North Buncombe, sophomore quarterback Jared Smith threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns, giving the Jets some hope for the future.

And in last week's 62-18 loss to Erwin, North Henderson junior running back Zidyan Phoeun put together one of the best rushing performances of the season. He carried the ball 36 times for 240 yards, with touchdown runs of 38, 42 and 65 yards.

Frady is the fifth coach for Enka in the past 13 seasons, and he has tried mightily to turn around decades of bad football. A 3-8 mark in 2017 has been his best record in six seasons, and he is 10-55 with the Jets.

Wilkins is the fifth head coach at North since 2007, and the son of former Asheville coach Danny Wilkins is trying to build a program the right way. The Knights have had one winning season since 2001 (7-5 in 2015) and are 2-19 in two seasons under Wilkins.

Perhaps his dad can call on his own experiences while counseling his son. Danny Wilkins was 5-34-1 in his first stint as a head coach at Erwin the 1980s before winning 162 games and 12 conference titles - and a state championship - in 16 seasons with the Cougars.

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