Andrews Football: 2022 Wildcats Season Preview and Prediction

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The 2021 season was one for the record books for the little school outside of Valleytown. The Andrews Wildcats may not have finished the season the way they wanted, but they accomplished a lot more than their 7 and 4 record reflects-from the outside looking in. With program-defining wins over Mitchell and Murphy, the Red and Black put Western North Carolina on notice.

Returning nearly everyone from last year’s historic team, Andrews is primed to make a run for it all in 2022. Let’s take a look at what stands in their way. 


Previewing Andrews Schedule for 2022:

Record Prediction: 8-2

Head Coach James Phillips put his team in a great spot heading into this season with the schedule he and his staff curated. Unless something goes terribly wrong, at worst the Wildcats should head into conference play with a 4-1 record. They handed State-Runner Up Mitchell County a big L last year, but the task will get even harder this year as they will head to Bakersville for their rematch with the Purple Machine. Even if they aren’t able to get the job done on September 9th, they shouldn’t have any problem with the likes of Hickory, East Henderson, North Buncombe, or North Georgia and they should ride into conference play with a 4-1 record. The Wildcats will kick off SMC play with Hayesville, Swain, and Cherokee before ending their season with Senior night against Robbinsville and a road contest vs Murphy. 


With the fluidity in the conference this year no SMC game will be a cakewalk, but barring any injury I’m still picking the Cats to head into their final two games of the season undefeated in conference play. Cherokee will be reloading this year and the Hayesville and Swain games will be at home, which should give the Red and Black a huge advantage if this year’s stands are packed like they were for the last few home games last season. 


Obviously their two biggest regular season games will come in the final two weeks of the season against Robbinsville and Murphy, and if there ever was a chance for the Wildcats to complete a sweep of the two SMC Titans, it’s this year. Depth has been the biggest concern for the Wildcats when they line it up against the big guys in previous years, but it’s looking like that might not be the case this year. If Andrews can stay healthy, there’s no reason they shouldn’t at least split these final two games. The home game vs Robbinsville on senior night should draw a bigger crowd than last year’s regular season finale vs Murphy. 


Previewing Andrews Offense for 2022: 


When you return ALL of your offensive production from the previous year, you’re already entering the season on a high note. 


Issac Weaver and Austin Martin’s names have been thrown around in quite a few arguments regarding who the top running back duo is in the SMC, and they’ll make yet another push for that title this year. 


Martin and Weaver are both coming off of 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, and Weaver also surpassed the 500 yard mark in receiving yards. Both of these guys were banged up almost all of last season, and they were still a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses. I look for them to both be 100 Yard Per Game Backs yet again this year. 


We know what the Cats can do on the ground, but where I really think they are going to surprise people this year is through the air. 


Donovan Bateman has grown up a lot this summer and seems more comfortable in the pocket than he’s ever been. A lot of that confidence is due to not only the fact that most of his Oline is returning, but also because he has some weapons to throw to. Issac Weaver was the only Wildcat receiver to break the double digit mark in receptions in 2021 as the sure handed athlete hauled in over 30 receptions, but this year we should see some other receivers in the mix. With another year to learn under the tutelage of position Coach Matthew Maennle (who was once a great receiver in his own right), I look for Cam Rattler to have a breakout year at the receiver spot. His 6 foot 4 inch frame should help him reel in passes from Bateman and those two could become a dangerous connection late in the season if they’re able to get on the same page. Andy and Everett Tatham also shouldn’t go overlooked as they give the Cats a nice underneath option through the air, but obviously the Wildcats bread and butter will still be the ground and pound game with Weaver and Martin. 


Previewing Andrews Defense for 2022:


In just 9 games last year, Andrew Martin surpassed the century mark in tackles averaging 13 tackles per game. He will be the anchor to a defense that gave up just over 15.5 points per game last year. Austin Martin will also be a big part of the Andrews defense as well, as he was second on the team with 60 tackles last year. 


A name you might not have heard-but you absolutely should know-is Dalton Rose. As a Sophomore last year Rose averaged nearly 6 tackles per game, and he really lays the wood when he makes a tackle. In his Junior campaign this year, Rose could become known as one of the hardest hitters in the SMC. 


In the defensive backfield for Andrews, you’ll find none other than the man himself, Issac Weaver. Weaver hauled in 9 interceptions in just 10 games played last year, and always makes opposing QBs think twice about throwing his way. He also contributed 3.5 tackles per game at the DB spot last season. Alongside Weaver will be Senior’s Cole Anderson, Kaden Edwards, and Zack Queen and Junior Cam Rattler. Anderson will play a pivotal part of the Wildcats defensive success, as opposing offenses will probably be gunning his way when he is opposite of Weaver. 


The Wildcats defense didn’t give up a ton of points last year, but in games that they lost they gave up big plays that kept the ball out of their offense’s hands. This year it will be crucial for Andrews to get off the field quickly on defense and allow their methodical offense to go to work. 


Final Analysis:


This is the year for the Cats. The Andrews faithful have been waiting for this group of Seniors to come through for a long time, and it’s put up or shut up time. They have the talent to make a very deep playoff run, they just have to get out of their own way. A lot of eyes will be on the Red and Black this year, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure. We’re either gonna see some diamonds or some burst pipes.

“For #7” Andrews Dedicates Historic Win To Lost Teammate

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Andrews, NC- Tears and cheers came from the bleachers as the clock hit double zeroes Friday night in Andrews. The Wildcats finally got the monkey off their back. 

Not only did Andrews defeat Murphy for the first time in 4 decades, they did it on senior night, and in a pretty dominant fashion. 

Head Coach James Phillips gets a Gatorade bath in the final seconds of the big win

The Wildcats trailed 12-7 to start the third quarter, but it always seemed like they were in control. Austin Martin gave Andrews the lead on the Cats opening drive of the second half, and they never looked back. The defense didn’t allow a single point in the second half, and Isaac Weaver tacked on a late 4th quarter TD to put the game away. 

This win meant so much for so many people in the community of Andrews. Former players, coaches and life-long fans had been waiting patiently for this moment. Even the mayor, James Reid, was jumping up and down on the sidelines with excitement! As much as it meant to the fans and the community, it meant a little more for the boys who had the pads on.

Gage Runge wore #7 for the Wildcats in honor of his friend and teammate Connor Pressley, who lost his life in a car wreck last year. Pressley would’ve been a senior on this Wildcat football team.

“It’s an honor to be able to wear this jersey and honor him tonight,” Runge said as he teared up. “That’s what we did, we came out here and honored him and made him proud. I felt like he was with me every play. Every step of the way he was with me.”

After the game was over and James Phillips had given his post-game speech, the Wildcats broke the huddle by shouting, “for number 7.”

The Wildcats are obviously going to celebrate this win and relish in the moment as they should, but they aren’t satisfied yet. Junior Running Back Austin Martin said, “We’ve just gotta be ready. We’ve gotta reset and be ready for whatever is up next (in the playoffs).” 

Up next for the Wildcats will be a home playoff game for the first time since 2015. They will host Bishop McGuinness this Friday night at 7:30.

Who knows what the playoffs will bring for the Wildcats. Maybe they can make a deep run at a state or region title and add some hardware to that trophy case before school consolidation takes it away. One thing is for certain, they are playing with a purpose and peaking at the right time. 

For #7.

Wildcats fall to Maroon Devils in conference matchup

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The Swain County Maroon Devils showed why they are a serious conference contender with a solid 48-15 victory over the visiting Wildcats of Andrews.

The home standing Maroon Devils dominated the scoring in the first three quarters with 7 points in the first quarter, 21 points in the second quarter and 13 in the third.

The Wildcats scored two times in the final quarter with a 1 yard run by Tucker Holloway and a 25 yard scamper by Gavin Wilson. Landon White finished the game with 50 yards on 11 carries, Tucker Holloway added 51 yards on 11 carries and Gavin Wilson finished with 67 yards on on 16 carries.

The Wildcats fall to 2-4 while the Devils improve to 6-0.  The Cats return to Hugh Hamilton Stadium on Friday Oct 11 to host the Cherokee Braves.

Dawgs win conference opener against Andrews 35-7

Murphy Bulldogs, Sports, TeamFYNSports

A special report from the voice of the Murphy Bulldogs- J.R. Carroll!

Justice Dorsey and Devonte Murray combined for four touchdowns, and a pass from Kellen Rumfelt to Abe Abling added another. Murphy won 35-7 over Andrews in the Smoky Mountain Conference opener for both teams.

Murray was the workhorse, rushing for 200 yards on 18 carries for the Bulldogs on the ground. In fact, Murray rushed for more yards than Andrews had total, as the Wildcats could only muster 187 yards against a stingy Bulldog defense.

Murphy took the opening kick and was three and out on their first possession. Andrews first possession was just like the Dogs and they went three and out. On the third play of Murphy’s next possession, Rumfelt hit Abling, who was streaking down the sideline for a 50 yard touchdown strike. At the 7:52 mark of the third quarter, Murphy led 7-0.

A Murphy Bulldogs carrier during a play.

Murphy’s second score came on Justice Dorsey’s first touchdown run of the night from 19 yards out. Braeden Alexander’s point attempt was good and Murphy led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

It was midway through the second before the next score happened, when Dorsey hit pay dirt again from 13 yards out. Alexander added the extra point and Murphy led 21-0 with 6:43 left in the half.

Andrews scored their lone score on their next possession as they drove down to the one yard line and Tucker Hollaway rammed it in for a touchdown. Hollaway also added the extra point. With 4:50 remaining in the half the the score was Murphy 21 Andrews 7.

Murphy added another score in the half, when Devonte Murray added his first touchdown of the night from 14 yards out. At the 3:44 mark, Alexander added the extra point and going into the half Murphy led 28-7.

It was late in the third quarter when Murray found the endzone for his second touchdown of the night. He ran it in from 14 yards out shedding tackles along the way. The point attempt was good and that netted the final Murphy 35 Andrews 7.

Murphy did threaten again in the fourth, but the drive stalled. After getting to first and goal at the six, Rumfelt got caught by the Andrews pass rush for a 15 yard loss. On fourth and 15 Murray was stopped at the one yard line. The ensuing Andrews drive ran out the clock.

The Andrews offensive line during a play against the Murphy Bulldogs Friday night.

Rumfelt finished the night with 6 completions out of 11 attempts for 125 yards and a touchdown. His favorite receiver on the night was Ab Abling who caught three of those passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Andrews quarterback Tucker Hollaway was one for three with 10 yards.

Devonte Murray led all rushers with 18 carries for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Justice Dorsey added two touchdowns with his 80 yards.

Hollaway led Andrews with 13 carries for 79 yards and the Cats only touchdown. Landon White was held to 68 yards over 18 carries.

The Dogs are open next week, while the Cats will travel to Bryson City to take on Swain County, another of the BIG 3 in the Smoky Mountain Conference.

TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week- Landon White, No. 2

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Congratulations to Landon White, this week’s TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week!

Landon has been playing well all season; he leads the Andrews Wildcats in rushing yards. In the Wildcats’ game against North Georgia, Landon rushed for 172 yards over 24 carries with two touchdowns. He and teammate Gavin Wilson combined for over 300 yards in that game to lead the Wildcats to victory.

Landon also played well against Rabun Gap, rushing for 142 yards over 20 carries with two touchdowns. Finally, he rushed for 68 yards over 18 carries in Friday’s game against Murphy.

Shout out to Landon for receiving this award!

TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week- Gavin Wilson

Player of the Week, Sports, TeamFYNSports

A special report from the voice of the Andrews Wildcats- Scott Fletcher!

Congratulations to this week’s TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week for the Andrews Wildcats- Gavin Wilson! Gavin played an incredible game against the North Georgia Falcons. He rushed for a combined 333 yards with his teammate, Landon White.

Gavin also scored three touchdowns for the Cats on carries of one, 15 and 49 yards. This award is well-deserved for a hard-working athlete!

Thunder and lightning lead the Wildcats to victory in North Georgia

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A special report from the voice of the Andrews Wildcats- Scott Fletcher!
Landon White and Gavin Wilson rushed for a combined 333 yards as the Andrews Wildcats downed the North Georgia Falcons in Friday night action in North Georgia.

Quarterback Tucker Holloway with Gavin Wilson and Landon White. Photo credit: Mary White

The Cats got on the board first with a 22 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tucker Holloway to the speedy Gage Gillespie. The Falcons started the scoring in the second quarter with touchdown runs of 30 and 49 yards. Gavin Wilson capped a long Wildcat drive with a one yard touchdown run to end the first half.

The Falcons scored first in the third with a 65 yard pass from Kade Harkness.  The Cats rounded out the scoring in the third with a run of 12 yards by White and a one yard run by Wilson.
In the fourth it was all Wildcats as White powered in the end zone with a one yard touchdown. Quarterback Tucker Holloway scampered for 45 yards and a Wildcat touchdown. Gavin Wilson scored on runs of 15 and 49 yards to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats won the game by a final score of 53-20.
The Cats improve to 2-1 while the Falcons fall to 1-3.  Andrews returns to Hugh Hamilton Stadium this Friday, playing host to Rabun Gap.  Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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