Let Owen High School’s real games begin

Fred McCormick Columnist

Owen’s Warhorses went down the mountain to take on the McDowell Titans last week and came away with their fourth loss of the season, making them one of only two teams remaining in the conference without a victory. This week Owen heads into the part of the schedule that really counts.

The final six games of the season will be against Owen’s opponents in the seven-team Western Highlands Conference, which features five 2-A schools and two playing under the 1-A designation. Teams typically save their most competitive games for conference foes.

Below is a look at each team in the conference, using, heading into last week’s games:

Avery comes to campus to visit Owen next week. The game will be the first of back-to-back games against 1-A teams from the conference. The Vikings gave up 54 in the opening week of the season against a school from Tennessee before traveling to Marion, where they gave up 42 to the Titans. Offensively, Avery broke the 20-point mark only once in their first four games and struggled to get the ground attack working. But a 31-14 win over North Wilkes gave them their first victory last week.

Mitchell was 4-0 heading into last Friday before crushing North Buncombe, 61-28. They scored 62 on McDowell in what was the fourth game of the season for each team. The statistics show a team that is balanced and efficient. The Bakersville school features at least nine players who have scored on the ground, a testament to the team’s offensive line. The sophomore quarterback of the Mountaineers boasts an impressive completion percentage and rarely turns the ball over. The Warhorses host Mitchell on Oct. 2.

Mountain Heritage sits in Yancey County’s only incorporated city, Burnsville, where the Warhorses will travel to play Oct. 9. The Cougars rely heavily on a sophomore quarterback who is much more likely to hurt an opponent with his legs than his arm. Defensively, the 2-A school has two linebackers who were averaging double-digit tackles heading into their fifth game of the season. The defense also features a free safety who averaged an interception per game through the first four contests of the year. The Cougars held West Henderson scoreless in a 14-0 victory last week.

Madison has struggled through the early part of the season, and Owen will welcome them to the Swannanoa Valley on Oct. 16. After four games, two Patriots quarterbacks combined for a completion percentage under 40 while throwing seven picks and five touchdowns. Madison is the only team in the conference besides Owen to not record a victory yet this year after being shut out by Pisgah last week, 44-0.

Hendersonville and Owen will star on local television together when the Bearcats host the Warhorses on Oct. 22. The game is one of four that will be televised this season, and former Owen coach Kenny Ford will be doing the color commentary. Last year the Bearcats and the Warhorses played a thriller at Warhorse Stadium that saw several power outages and ended in a 57-54 barn burner. This year the series shifts south where Hendersonville will likely continue throwing the ball all over the field with their unique offensive style.

Polk will make come to the Swannanoa Valley this year after they watched the Warhorses celebrate an undefeated season and conference championship on their field in Columbus. The home contest will be Owen’s last regular season game of the year on Oct. 30, but Polk will go on to host Hendersonville the following week. The Wolverines opened their season with a win against Chase before dropping three in a row. They stopped that slide last week with a 36-14 victory against East Henderson.