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Swain, E. Henderson earn top playoff seeds

Opening round for WNC football teams set for Friday

11:12 PM, Oct. 27, 2012 EDT

Raymius Smith and Swain County head into the state 1-AA playoffs with an 11-0 record. / John Coutlakis/jcoutlakis@citizen-times.com


Luck has not had a whole lot to do with just the third undefeated regular season in the history of Swain County football.

But the Maroon Devils (11-0) had some on their side Saturday.

The defending 1-AA state champions and East Henderson (3-A) earned No. 1 seeds for the NCHSAA playoffs, which means homefield advantage throughout.

Swain County has won a school-record 23 straight games, with 14 of those games taking place in Bryson City.

However, the Maroon Devils had to win a draw with two other 1-AA teams, Hendersonville and Mount Airy, to earn the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which begin Friday.

"It's great news for us," Swain County coach Neil Blankenship said.

"This was our goal all throughout the regular season. We wanted to give ourselves a shot. Now it's time to just take every playoff game one at a time."

Former All-WNC selection Matthew Maennle made two interceptions for the Maroon Devils on Friday and caught Raymius Smith's only touchdown pass (1 yard) in a 21-7 win at Murphy that clinched the Smoky Mountain Conference championship.

Swain County is scheduled to host East Wilkes (2-8) on Friday with a potential matchup with Western Highlands Conference champion Hendersonville (10-1) looming in the third round.

East Henderson (10-1) wrapped up the WNC Athletic Conference title on Friday by blowing out West Henderson, 53-21.

Seth Owen threw for 132 yards and scored three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Logan Jones added 124 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' 10th straight win.

Ironically, East Henderson lost its only game to Swain County (28-21) on Aug. 17. The Eagles will begin the 3-A playoffs against Hunter Huss (5-5).

"Our kids have worked for this No. 1 seed and it's a great reward for them," Eagles coach Brett Chappell said.

"We couldn't be happier with the way things worked out for us."

Along with Swain County, Murphy (9-2) also won a state championship in 2011. The Bulldogs are a No. 3 seed in this year's 1-A brackets.




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