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High school notebook: Irby's big night carries Cougars

9:02 PM, Aug. 18, 2012 EDT

Josh Irby


Josh Irby continues to impress as the main cog in Asheville High's offense.

The 5-foot-6, 184-pound senior rushed for a game-high 275 yards and four touchdowns Friday as the Cougars went on the road to beat North Gaston, 38-28.

Irby, a fullback who has converted to tailback for his final season of high school football, scored on runs of 51, 39, 22 and 1 yards.

He had nine runs of 10 yards or more against the Wildcats (0-1). Irby ran for just 452 yards and three touchdowns in all of 2011.

"I had a big game, but I didn't really think I had rushed for that much," Irby said of his Friday performance.

"Our quarterback, David Howerton, did a good job, and our linemen like (fellow senior) Jesse Karnezis really blocked for me, too. I couldn't have done it without them."

Jermaine Battle (34 yards) and Cameron Ray (23 yards) added touchdown runs for Asheville on Friday.

North Gaston has lost 43 of its last 44 games but gave the seven-time defending Mountain Athletic Conference champion Cougars (1-0) a fight. The Wildcats were able to pile up more than 400 yards of offense and only trailed 20-16 at halftime.

Asheville was without All-MAC kicker Mason Moore (torn quadriceps) and was only able to convert one extra-point attempt (which was an Irby run).

The Cougars travel to Western Highlands Conference preseason favorite Hendersonville next week. Asheville won last year's game, 43-7, but this year's game may be closer, Irby believes.

"It's going to be a tough game, and we know that," he said. "We've just got to make some adjustments in practice and keep working harder. We're the kind of team that wants to get better each week."

Madison scores historic Jug win

Madison coach Mark Gosnell would have given the evil eye to anyone who asked before Friday.

But the answer is no, Gosnell's football program had never beaten North Buncombe three straight times before its most recent trip to Weaverville.

The Patriots defense avoided any jinx by holding the Black Hawks to zero first downs in a 31-0 shutout and maintaining ownership of the prize in the Juice Jug rivalry.

Tyler Rogers threw a pair of touchdown passes and had 173 yards of total offense. Former All-Western Highlands Conference lineman Deryck Hilemon pitched in on offense with 143 rushing yards and a touchdown after starting tailback Tyler Hoffman went down with a shoulder injury.

"We're awfully happy," Gosnell said. "The kids came out and played hard. They were able to overcome some adversity after Tyler Hoffman got hurt. I'm awful proud of this team, especially the defense. We're just excited to win that one."

Beyond the usual bragging rights, Gosnell did not make it a point to stress the greater significance of Friday's game. Gosnell wasn't even 100 percent sure the Patriots had never beaten North Buncombe three straight times until this week.

Cory Kent (13 yards) and Cole Cuthbertson (17) caught Rogers' touchdown passes. Kicker Cheyenne Bunner made all her extra points and even split the uprights with a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Walkingstick keys Cherokee win

Welcome back, Dorian Walkingstick.

The Cherokee senior played his first full football game in two years Friday, rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Braves to a 32-21 home win over Smoky Mountain.

Cherokee took a 26-16 lead to the half thanks to Walkingstick's first two touchdowns (1 and 9 yards). Tavi Rivera (2 yards) and quarterback Logan Woodard (4 yards) also had short touchdown runs.

Walkingstick led Western North Carolina in rushing as a sophomore (2,139) but sat out almost all of last season with a hamstring injury.

Friday's win avenged a 26-14 loss to the Mustangs in Sylva last season.

Rare 1-0 starts for McDowell, Rosman

McDowell and Rosman won their season-opening games Friday for the first time since 2008.

Former All-MAC safety Jared Helms swatted away an R-S Central pass in the end zone as time expired to give the Titans a heart-stopping 20-14 victory over R-S Central in Marion.

Malique O'Neil rushed for 101 yards and ran back a kickoff 85 yards for his only touchdown, while McDowell quarterback Grant Robinson ran for two scores.

The Titans are now 1-0 for just the second time in a decade.

Rosman put away visiting North Henderson, 20-16.

The Tigers (1-0) racked up 260 rushing yards, with Brett Sisk (65 yards), Duran Scruggs (8 yards) and Blaise McCall (2 yards) finding the end zone on runs.




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