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Rams atop 1st WNC high school football rankings

9:55 PM, Aug. 18, 2012 EDT

Roberson players take the field for Friday's game against Pisgah in Skyland. / John Coutlakis/jcoutlakis@citizen-times.com


Jeff DeLeon has no doubts about his football team.

DeLeon is the one of the biggest (6-foot-5, 305 pounds) and best players for Roberson, which has 25 other seniors on its roster.

DeLeon kept a running count in his head Friday, and the burly lineman believes he made at least five pancake blocks in a 31-7 win over Pisgah at Ensley Stadium.

The Rams are the top-ranked team in the season's first Citizen-Times Best of the West football rankings.

"I've played with most of these guys since I was in 7th grade and I've known the rest of them since elementary school," DeLeon said.

"I enjoy playing with my brothers. We all have talent, but we're coachable. I'm excited. I love my team."

Roberson quarterback Noah Suber had 254 yards of offense (177 passing, 77 rushing) on Friday and the Rams defense nearly posted just its second shutout in three years.

Roberson was without several key players on that side of the ball, including All-MAC linebacker Mahogany Suber who is day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

No. 2 Reynolds did something Friday night that even its last state-championship team (2009) couldn't by crushing Watauga, 51-20, at Dalton Stadium.

Junior Levin Ledford threw for 249 yards and one touchdown and ran for two more scores. In his first varsity start at running back, Jave Jones added 112 rushing yards and four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving).

"We just played hard and everyone did their job," Rockets senior linebacker Justin St. Onge said.

"We fixed a lot of things that we did wrong in our scrimmages and you could definitely feel and experience the chemistry starting to build up. We have trust in each other, more than last year. We all love each other on this team."

Reynolds and St. Onge had beaten Watauga the past three years, but none of those victories came by more than eight points.

Two other Mountain Athletic Conference teams, Erwin and Asheville High, are third and fourth, respectively.

Defending NCHSAA 1-AA champion Swain County checks in at No. 5 after Friday's hard-fought 28-21 win over WNC Athletic Conference preseason favorite East Henderson.

Garrett Lane's 2-yard run with 3:50 remaining was the winning touchdown and the Maroon Devils (1-0) scored four of the game's final five touchdowns after trailing 14-0 at halftime.

Smoky Mountain Conference Preseason Player of the Year Greg Tisho had 120 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Raymius Smith passed for 136 yards in his first game for Swain County. Both players transferred in the offseason from Cherokee.

The Maroon Devils have now won a WNC-best 13 straight games dating back to 2011.

"East Henderson is a great football team and I'm just so proud of our guys for battling back the way they did," Swain County coach Neil Blankenship said.

"They banded together and really came together as a team. Some of those kids had never been tested like that, and a lot of them really stepped up and played well. I'm just real proud of all our kids and coaches."

No. 6 Hendersonville and No. 7 East Henderson are less than two weeks away from their annual game on Aug. 31 at the Bearcats' Dietz Field.

Grant Rivers threw for 171 yards on Friday, 118 of which went to D.J. Wilson, in Hendersonville's 35-7 victory over West Henderson. Desean Jackson ran for 110 yards.

No. 8 Franklin got 206 rushing yards and five touchdowns from Marquel Manning in Friday's 42-35 win at defending NCHSAA 1-A champion Murphy.

Manning (210 pounds) ran behind the blocking of fullback Jeremiah Young (225 pounds) to give the Panthers their fourth straight victory over the Bulldogs.

"We started eight underclassmen on offense and we knew we needed to take some pressure off our young quarterback (sophomore Dalton Cochran)," Franklin coach Josh Brooks said.

"We want to control the football, that's really our philosophy. And with our size, we think teams are just going to get tired of tackling (Manning and Young). Murphy never gave up, but we kept moving forward at six and seven yards a clip."

No. 9 Polk County beat Tuscola on Friday for the fourth straight year, 25-20.

Senior quarterback Alec Philpott threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a team-high 68 yards and two touchdowns.




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