The first few weeks of the 2015 football season are likely not what the players on Owen’s football team were hoping for when they preparing this summer.
Nobody could have possibly predicted the wild outcome of the game against Enka, and who would have guessed that Tuscola would come in and hang 49 on the scoreboard?
Reynolds was as impressive as they usually are, and the Warhorses went into their bye week with an 0-3 record.
This week, Owen is preparing to play nearby McDowell High School. The Titans gave up 62 points to Mitchell last week, a team that the Warhorses will host for the first game in October.
That means that the first four opponents that the Warhorses have faced this season have one very important thing in common: They are all larger schools.
Players and coaches on the Warhorses would certainly never use the schedule as an excuse, because they prepare for every game with winning in mind.
But consider the point that longtime Voice of the Warhorses Carl Bartlett makes on the subject:
“The Warhorses have been playing teams that rotate 11 players off the field when there is a change of possession. Whereby Owen often keeps same 11 on defense and offense.
“This is a great disadvantage to the Warhorses. Tiredness creeps in, and you have limited coaching opportunities when your players stay on the field.”
Bartlett has been in the booth calling Owen games for nearly 30 years. He is an alumni of the school and a Valley native.
If you’re looking for an in-depth, layered look at Warhorse football, then he is someone you want to seek out.
He also makes a great point on other ways in which Owen’s status as the smallest school in Buncombe County creates obstacles for the football team.
“Owen is forced to spend more travel money to compete in a conference outside Buncombe, traveling to Avery on the mountainous Tennessee line and to Polk on the South Carolina line. Needless to say, these teams don't bring very many fans when playing at Owen. That's the reason we play larger Buncombe County schools as their fan base has greater support numbers, easier travel.”
Bartlett believes that the way to rectify the situation is through realignment; specifically by increasing enrollment for the Owen district.
Bartlett concludes that tough matchups early in the regular season for the Warhorses will continue to produce lopsided victories for the larger opposing schools.
Owen, classified as a 2-A school, does finish the nonconference portion of its schedule this week against the aptly named 4-A Titans.
But after this week, the tables will turn.
The Warhorses will begin their conference schedule against the Avery Vikings in Newland next week, and that six-game portion of the schedule likely cannot come soon enough.
And the entire Swannanoa Valley will anxiously await the opportunity to see Owen in action on an even playing field.