(Smoky Mountain Conference) – Earlier this week we released our Five Players Who Could Contend For Defensive Player of The Year in The SMC article, highlighting five of the top defensive players in the smoky mountain conference who are poised for a breakout year in 2023. In this article, we will swap to the other side of the ball and talk about five of the top offensive players in the conference for 2023. Just like the defensive article, the players mentioned below aren’t the only ones who could be in for a great season in 2023. Let us know who we missed and who you think could be Offensive Player of The Year in the comments!
5. Michael Driver
The Cherokee Braves Senior should be in for a big year with the departure of former running mate Chase Calhoun to Robbinsville. Driver is going to fit right in with new Head Coach Tim Hawkins option-heavy offense, and will probably get reps at both quarterback and running back this season. Driver is a “dark horse” candidate for OPOY, but his ceiling is what makes him a good preseason candidate. If he can put it all together and have some success completing passes to Jack & Josiah Teesateskie and build a rapport with backfield mate Mato Grant, Driver could be one of the more electric players in the conference.
4. Josiah Glaspie
Josiah Glaspie was 2nd in rushing yards for the Maroon Devils last year, but I think he should make huge strides in 2023 even with the man in front of him returning. If you’ve seen Glaspie in person, you know he is a freak athlete. With Glaspie, Josh Collins and Reece Winchester all returning for their senior year, a Swain County offense that struggled in 2022 should be a rising tide in 2023, which plays in Glaspie’s favor. Not only can he pick up yards on the ground as a rusher, if he can dial in his catching ability he could be the best receiver in the conference in 2023. Collins will probably be the featured back for the Devils, but Glaspie will be the big play guy for the Maroon Machine this year.
3. Hunter Stalcup
The Smoky Mountain Conference’s leading rusher in 2022, Hunter Stalcup is going to shoulder even more of the load for the Bulldogs in 2023. With over 2,200 yards on the ground and over 30 touchdowns in his Junior season, Stalcup is poised to have another record breaking season for the Black and Gold. The reason the conference’s leading rusher comes in at number three on this list instead of 1 or 2 has less to do with Stalcup and more to do with the new faces that will be around him in 2023. With the Bulldogs losing nearly their entire offensive line to graduation last year, it may take some time for Stalcup to get things going early in August. It will also be interesting to see if the Dogs can take some of the pressure off Stalcup and continue to develop their passing game as first year QB Brady Grant steps under center.
2. Tyler West
Could an offensive lineman really win Offensive Player of The Year? We think so. Even with the talent the Wildcats lost to graduation last year they still bring back a good core group in 2023, including one of the most experienced lines in the state led by Tyler West. Even though the backs carrying the football will be young, West and his offensive line should be a matchup problem for most of the Wildcats competition in 2023. West can move bodies out of the way off of sheer strength and size alone and as he continues to develop his footwork and speed, he is the best lineman this conference has seen since 2021 4-star recruit Yousef Mugharbil. Andrews may surprise some people through the air this season also, as first year quarterback Everett Tatham should be given ample time to find his receivers with West and company in front of him.
1. Cuttler Adams
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Robbinsville’s Cuttler Adams has been terrorizing defenses since his Freshman year and hasn’t slowed down since. In 2023 we will see if Adams can run down the Smoky Mountain Conference career rushing yardage total (6,160 held by Rylee Anderson), as he is only 1,469 yards off the mark. Adams has surpassed 2,200 yards in his previous two seasons, so he should have a great shot at grabbing the rushing title in his senior season. The most impressive about Cuttler though, is that no matter how well he does individually he is always more concerned about his teams success. And his team’s success should be huge in the coming season. The Black Knights have a good shot at making a run at a state championship in 2023, and if Cuttler can help lead his boys deep into the playoffs he could be a lock for not only player of the year in the conference, but maybe even the state.