Andrews Wildcats will host the Murphy Bulldogs. . .Run, run fast as you can!


By Brandon Stephens

(Andrews) – – Run, run, fast as you can, you can’t catch me I am the gingerbread boy, may be the theme for this Friday’s football game between the Andrews Wildcats and the Murphy Bulldogs. Both Bulldogs and Wildcats will have to run from everything in each opponent’s barn from the big linemen, linebackers, maybe cows, horses, threshers, and mowers. It will be the sly defenders that get Andrews’ Isaac Weaver or Austin Martin and Murphy’s Juan Allen or Ty Laney. The Andrews barn will have Dalton Rose, Drew Martin and Zack Queen will lead the Wildcats. On the other side of the farm, we will see Rylan Smith, Chandler Wood, Kyle Willard, and the ever sly Payton McCracken for the Murphy Bulldogs. Defense will be the key to this game that promises to show lots to rush. So be careful crossing the field, not to get gobbled up.

Andrews Barn

This game may be a lower scoring game. Andrews (5-and-3 and 1-and-3 in Conference Play), starting out 5-and-oh on the season, has not allowed more than 24 points to be scored by its opponent, 24 points. The Wildcats racked up 44 points against North Buncombe and 26 points against historic power Mitchell County. The run game has been the bread and butter for Andrews with Austin Martin powering for 963 yards so far this season. Isaac Weaver, who has suffered some injuries, has worked to mend himself for this week’s game. Weaver averages 7 yards per carry and 114 yards per game juking and shuffling around defenders to build over 800 yards this season, according to published reports.

Passing has not been the method of moving the ball. Quarterback Donovan Bateman has a 40 percent completion of his passes, according to posted stats. Bateman joins Weaver and Martin in the rushing column as well as he illuminates games with a pass. Non-traditional to the game, Bateman has favored passing to Wildcat Fullback Austin Martin for 22 receptions for 340 yards. We can bet the run game is going to be choice for Andrews.

Wildcat defense has skilled youth in Sophomore Dalton Rose and Juniors Drew Martin and Zack Queen who have been known for their stopping power. Defense has kept the Wildcats competitive in games. Wildcat Linebacker Drew Martin is one of the best defenders averaging 16 tackles per game. From the defensive secondary Isaac Weaver has around 8 interceptions this year. “We got out of the gate kinda quick and had a really strong non-conference (season). We knew when we were getting into the conference it was going to be tough sledding. Every game was going to be tough. We started of tough with Hayesville. We have had three really tough games with Swain, Cherokee, and Robbinsville. We had opportunities in all three of those games. I wish we had done the small things well enough in those games. We have been a bit banged up like other people the past two or three weeks. Offensively it’s hurt us,” Andrews Head Coach James Phillips stated about his team. “Defensively we are still really good. But offensively we are having to dig down really deep and scheme to generate points right now,” Coach Phillips added. Otherwise, when hanging around the Wildcats you see the team loves to play and compete is the general feeling of the Andrews leadership.

The Murphy Barn

The Murphy Bulldogs, after a very good week of practice, are working on the scheme to swallow up the gingerbread boys from Andrews. Pressure to Donovan Bateman is where the work begins and people like Jonathan Hamby, Rylan Smith, or Kyle Willard will have their eyes on him. Should someone cross the Murphy front line technique, Ty Laney, Payton McCracken, and Hunter Laney will need be there. However, the danger of Andrews is the Wildcats can launch a pass and that will keep this trio on its toes. “So, you know the place (Andrews) will be rockin’ Friday night. They have some good athletes, and their backfield is good. They have some key guys back there (Weaver and Martin). But we are going to line up, play our rules, and see how it works out,” says Murphy defender and receiver Payton McCracken.

The 28-to-21 win over Swain County last week has built energy and confidence for Murphy as the Bulldogs feel like this was a dominating show against the Maroon Devils. Unity and strength to execute some good plays came back to the Bulldogs, which is what the team was searching to find going to Bryson City. It will need to same momentum going 14 miles east to Andrews. Looking at the Andrews defense, Bulldog Quarterback Kellen Rumfelt says, “They (Andrews) has a pretty good defense. They like to fly around. I think our offense is better than their defense. Friday night we will see.”  The numbers may support Rumfelt’ s statement. This season Ty Laney is leading the team rushing with 750 yards on the season and 83 yards per game. Juan Allen has few touches with 558 yards but averages almost 11 yards per carry. Don’t count out Sophomore Hunter Stalcup who can run and catch the ball for the Bulldogs. Rumfelt is still a force passing for the Bulldogs with a 60 percent completion rate and makes things happen hitting Payton McCracken.

Drawing up the scheme to get past Andrews has placed focus on the defense containing Bateman, Weaver, and Martin. “Those are good athletes and good football players. We are going to have our work cut out for them trying to take care of them offensively and defensively. Two of those three play defense too. They do a good job offensively and defensively and they are three of our better players in our conference,” Murphy Head Football Coach Joseph Watson warns about the Wildcats.

What to Expect

The Andrews Wildcats will probably try to push some veer offense and buck sweeps which will keep Murphy on its toes looking for any possible combination of plays. That is the danger and strength of Andrews. They do a great job getting off the ball and getting the play in motion, which means Bulldog defenders can castle gaze through the game and play its assignments. The larger question is how health is Isaac Weaver. You can bet he has been working to regain 100 percent health to play this game and will keep Murphy guessing and chasing him. Murphy defense will have to be sharp with its defensive techniques to cover the ends or Weaver will burn them. Regardless of being a Bulldog or Wildcat, run, run fast as you can!

The Andrews versus Murphy game will be streamed on FYN TV as a production of Team FYN Sports. Streaming coverage should begin around 7PM with the kickoff at 7:30 PM. Stay connected to Team FYN Sports for coverage of this game.

Murphy Personal Request – Adam Bobo

The Murphy Bulldogs have to win this game against Andrews to preserve one player’s pride. When you make a bet, you have to carry through with the consequences. If, Murphy loses, I fear Senior Bulldog Lineman Adam Bob will be spending his Saturday as well as the remainder of his allowance looking and buying Andrews Wildcat attire. Adam’s father Calvin is minister at a church in Andrews. The majority of the congregation has a relation with the Wildcat football team. The deal is if Andrews wins, Adam will ditch the coat and tie and sport all Andrews Wildcat clothing going to Sunday service. I don’t think it will be just for the services, but an all day wear of the red feline outfit. Maybe this will be a motivation for Andrews to play really well. Otherwise, Bobo better motive the Bulldogs as the congregation may not dress in black and gold. Trick or treat Adam!

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