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Can Swain finish perfect?

Maroon Devils play Southwest Onslow for title


9:51 PM, Nov. 30, 2012 EST

Swain County and Garrett Lane (39) go for their second consecutive NCHSAA 1-AA championship today. / John Coutlakis/jcoutlakis@citizen-times.com

BRYSON CITY — 

Swain County senior Colyn Petty kicks extra points with an exorbitant amount of steadiness.

There are two reasons.

Petty is one of the top golfers in Western North Carolina, so his nerves do not fray easily. Secondly, Petty gets a lot of practice -- the Maroon Devils (15-0) have scored a school-record 692 points and 100 touchdowns this football season.

How many will there be this afternoon as the defending 1-AA state champions go for a repeat against Southwest Onslow (13-1) at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh?

Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

"It's a great opportunity for us, especially the seniors," said Petty, who has connected on 83 of his 94 extra-point attempts.

"We're definitely excited."

Swain County has previously won eight state championships in football -- 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2004 and 2011 -- meaning the Smoky Mountain Conference school owns the most titles of any WNC program since the NCHSAA first subdivided the state playoffs 11 years ago.

This edition of the Maroon Devils has extended their winning streak to 27 games and beaten opponents by an average of 33.2 points per game this season.

Junior Raymius Smith (2,345 yards and 39 touchdowns with eight interceptions) has blossomed into the second-most prolific passer in WNC. thanks to the hands of seniors Matthew Maennle (62 receptions for 1,164 yards and 22 touchdowns) and Greg Tisho (53 receptions for 1,180 yards and 18 touchdowns).

Maennle enters this afternoon's game tied with 2009 Murphy graduate Georgie Kerber for the WNC single-season record for touchdown receptions.

Rushing-wise, the team's leaders are Garrett Lane (1,159 yards, 20 touchdowns) and Blake Wright (761 yards, 11 touchdowns).

Lane had 121 yards in a 28-21 home win over Monroe in the 1-AA Western Regional championship game.

"My line did a great job blocking like they always do," Lane said. "They do a great job creating holes for us. I feel like we're ready (for today). I can't say how much it means to us."

Defensively, Corbin Panther (68.5 tackles, 15.5 for a loss), Payton Parker (53), Jacob Wildcatt (51, 22.5 for a loss), Nathan Sellers (51) and Luis Saeli (48) are standouts for Swain County.

Southwest Onslow drubbed previous-unbeaten Warsaw Kenan, 35-12, in the 1-AA Eastern Regional championship game and will present a great challenge.

Shak Pershey (1,128 passing yards, 783 rushing yards, 29 combined touchdowns) runs a balanced offense that includes leading rushers DaMonta Winbush (1,468 yards, 20 touchdowns) and Isaiah Corbins (984 yards, six touchdowns).

Pershey had three touchdowns a week ago.

"He is really a special athlete who can take a bad play and make it into a good one," Maroon Devils coach Neil Blankenship said.

"They are kind of like a mountain team. They like to pound the ball and run the ball. They do a good job up front and have good team speed. I think playing a team as athletic as Monroe will help us. I hope so. We're looking forward to it."

 

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