All-Conference Coaches Selections Announced For SMCTeam FYN Sports December 2, 2022
Below are the 2022-2023 All-Conference selections as voted on by the Smoky Mountain Conference coaches.
1. Andrews 5-0
2. Murphy 4-1
3. Robbinsville 3-2
4. Cherokee 1-4
5. Hayesville 1-4
6. Swain 1-4
BACK OF THE YEAR:
ISAAC WEAVER (Andrews) & CUTTLER ADAMS (Robbinsville)
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR:
DREW MARTIN (Andrews)
COACH OF THE YEAR:
JAMES PHILLIPS (Andrews)
Preseason Smoky Mountain Conference Basketball Rankings + Player WatchlistTeam FYN Sports November 28, 2022
Photo courtesy of BT Douthit
The 2022-2023 basketball season is a blank canvas as of now for our Smoky Mountain Conference athletes. Football has officially ended for all of our teams, and it is now time to take a look a look at who will have their prints all over the canvas that is the basketball world by the season’s end. This article will give you a quick peek at the preseason standings in both the men’s and women’s sides of the SMC, while also shining a light on what individual players you should watch out for the next time you’re in the gym.
Boys Preseason Player of The Year
Brock Adams, Senior, Robbinsville
Adams has proven that he is one of the top basketball players in the conference over his previous three years on the court. This year, he has the opportunity to separate himself from the rest of the pack as the leader of a Black Knight team that should have an opportunity to bring home its first SMC crown since 2014. Adams is a shifty guard who can create space outside and finish with the big boys down low when he needs to, and those two attributes should allow him to put up points on against any team he faces this season.
Girls Preseason Player of The Year
Desta Trammell, Senior, Robbinsville
Desta has been a pertinent part of the run the Lady Knights have been on over the previous few years. Coming off of a Junior season in which she averaged 20 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists- #4 should blow those numbers out of the water in her senior campaign. With the only other Lady Knight averaging double figures in points per game last season lost to graduation, Trammell will be leaned on offensively even more so than in previous seasons. The way things look right now, the SMC crown is sitting there waiting for Desta and the Lady Knights to come and take it.
Boys Preseason Rankings
Boys basketball in the Smoky Mountain Conference this year is going to be incredible to watch. There will be so much fluidity within the Conference this year that no team will be able to take a day off, no matter who they’re playing. I think that 4 of the 6 teams in the SMC have a real chance at winning a conference title this year, and if the other 2 can mature on the court quickly, then it could be anybody’s crown. The 2022-2023 season is shaping up to be the best basketball season this conference has seen in a long time.
There’s a new number one on top of the rankings for the first time in a long time. Senior-laden Robbinsville takes the top spot with four out of five starters returning from last year’s squad. Preseason Player of The Year Brock Adams along with brother Bryce Adams, Xander Wachacha, and eventually a healthy Donovan Carpenter headline the five starters for a Black Knight team poised to make a run at their first Conference Championship in 8 years.
Having lost two of the best players in North Carolina in Kolbe Ashe and Jake McTaggart, it’s normal to think we should see some regression from the defending state champion Hayesville Yellow Jackets. Good players come and go, but the one constant that remains year in and year out is Michael Cottrell, and that’s why the Yellow Jackets will still find themselves fighting for the top spot in the SMC. Despite losing 50 percent of their scoring output from last year, they return 10 of the 12 players that made up last year’s 28-0 team. Logan Caldwell, Ethan Hooper, Taylor McClure, Kyle Lunsford, and Asher Brown are the biggest returning contributors from 2022.
The Murphy boys basketball program is headed in the right direction. Zack Skogen, Dom Rummler, and Dillian Brown headline a roster that returns all but 1 contributor from last year’s team. The thing that will set this team apart from the recent Bulldog teams is their depth. Along with the three guys previously mentioned, Cole Laney, Ty Laney, Will Carringer, and Dozer Mashburn are guys that can give you valuable minutes. The biggest question mark around this team is, Has Zack Skogen taken the next step? If he has, then this could be a dangerous team come February, but I still think we’re a year away from seeing the Black and Gold at their best.
The Red and Black are returning everyone from last year’s 12 and 13 season, including freak athlete Isaac Weaver and young gun Kegan Ellis. This is going to be a much-improved team due to experience alone, but I look for them to drop a couple of games out of the gate due to their football team’s deep run in the NCHSAA State Playoffs (& I’m sure they’re just fine with that).
From looking at old rosters, it seems the Maroon Devils lost 10 players to graduation off of last years 18 win team. While they do return Senior Nathan Bogdanowicz, this is going to be a very young basketball team. They’ll have some good contributors moving up off of last years JV Championship winning team, but the inexperience is the reason for their fifth place ranking.
Men’s sports at Cherokee High School have taken a step back as a whole without Donald Bradley as a part of their programs. The football team struggled to find their identity this season and I think the same will be said about their basketball team. However, I do look for Tso Smith and youngster Jack Teesateskie to provide some highlight reel plays for the Braves.
Girls Preseason Rankings
The Lady Knights should be in for another great season among the top of the SMC. They will have one fairly larger hole to fill down low with the absence of Yeika Jiminez, but if they’re able to plug and play that position then they may be in for a run-the-table type of season. Desta Trammell is undoubtedly the best player in the conference and with the way Zoie Shuler was coming into her own last season, the Knights should be able to run teams to death. Add in the spot up shooting of Kensley Phillips, and the Lady Knights offensive fire power should be the stuff dreams are made of.
The upcoming 2022-2023 season for the Black and Gold is one big question mark. As if the departure of Torin Rogers wasn’t going to be hard enough for Murphy, add in having to replace your award winning coach and things look pretty grim. But, with new-old coach Gary Thompson at the helm, it will be interesting to see how the Dogs respond to this new style of play. They have the talent to compete at a very high level, and I think they will respond well to this new challenge. While Addie Johnson and Lochlan Rogers should be staples on the court, we’ll also probably see a heavy mix of Lailee Holloway and Julia Dockery.
Amaya Hicks, Mya Burrows-kurr, and Maddie Spates will look to lead the Lady Devils on the court this year. While Mazie Helpman will be hard to replace, the Maroon Devils should have enough returning players to have a successful season. It’s also worth noting that they were peaking at the right time as last season ended with an upset over Draughn and a 2 point loss to Uwharrie Charter in the playoffs, so if they can ride that momentum this team could prove tough to beat.
No Leilaya McMillan or Betty Lossiah could prove trouble for the Lady Braves this year. The whole offense ran through McMillan in 2022, so it will be interesting to see who the go-to girl is for the 2023 season.
While Hayesville lost their top scorer in Lila Payne to graduation last year, in 2022 the Jackets had some very young girls playing some valuable minutes on the court that should pay dividends in 2023. Lila Roberts should be the on-court captain for Hayesville in her senior season, but Brooke Graves and Madison Peck are also poised for breakout season if the Jackets can get rolling early.
While the Lady Cats may not finish at the top of the standings this season, this year should be a turning point for their program. A team that has won three games in three years, they have struggled to find their identity. But under new head coach Tim Wood, I think the times are a-changin’. This should be the most successful season for the Wildcats since 2018-2019 and Sophomore Kylie Donaldson will lead that charge. The lone senior on this team in Leah Preston will help compliment Donaldson with her outside shooting abilities, as well as Gracelyn Worley and Kinleigh Queen. I’m calling it now, these Lady Cats will win a game that they shouldn’t before the season is over.
Boys Preseason Watchlist
Jack Teesatestekie, Freshman, Cherokee
Tso Smith, Senior, Cherokee
Reese Winchester, Junior, Swain County
Nathan Bogdanowicz, Senior, Swain County
Zack Skogen, Junior, Murphy
Dillian Brown, Senior, Murphy
Ethan Hooper, Senior, Hayesville
Taylor McClure, Junior, Hayesville
Bryce Adams, Sophomore, Robbinsville
Don Carpenter, Junior, Robbinsville
Isaac Weaver, Senior, Andrews
Kegan Ellis, Sophomore, Andrews
Cam Rattler, Junior, Andrews
Girls Preseason Watchlist
Lochlan Rogers, Senior, Murphy
Addie Johnson, Sophomore, Murphy
Amaya Hicks, Senior, Swain County
Maddie Spates, Senior, Swain County
Kensley Phillips, Senior, Robbinsville
Zoie Shuler, Junior, Robbinsville
Lila Roberts, Senior, Hayesville
Mallory Peck, Sophomore, Hayesville
Kylie Donaldson, Sophomore, Andrews
Gracelyn Worley, Sophomore, Andrews
Ariyanna Hill, Senior, Cherokee
Hermione “loshi” Ward, Junior, Cherokee
Smoky Mountain Conference Preseason Power Rankings, All-Conference Team, POY Awards, and More….Sports, Team FYN Sports, TeamFYNSports August 11, 2022
It’s about that time! We are only a handful of days away from seeing our favorite teams from the top conference in the state of North Carolina put toe to rubber and officially kick off the 2022 football season. This year is shaping up to be one of the most competitive season’s from top to bottom in the Smoky Mountain Conference that we’ve seen in recent memory. Let’s take a look at some predictions, some note-worthy games, and some players to watch as the season unfolds.
FYN SPORTS SMC PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
Maybe the hardest preseason predictions I have ever had to make. There are a ton of unknowns heading into the 2022 season. What will Swain County look like with Sherman Holt at the helm? How does Cherokee replace a superstar like Donald Bradley? Can Andrews stay healthy enough to make a deep run? How does Robbinsville handle their third Quarterback change in as many seasons?
Even with all of those questions, you can get a good idea about how good a team will be by looking at who they’re bringing back, and that’s the number 1 reason why Robbinsville sits at the top of this list.
Record Prediction: 8-2
Robbinsville returns 5 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters from last year’s Western Regional Championship runner-up team, and they also get at least one more year of Head Coach Dee Walsh at the helm. With all of the coaching changes that have happened in the SMC in the last few years, having Walsh return for his 18th year gives Robbinsville a bit of an edge from the jump, and a very good chance at making it 4 SMC Titles in a row.
Cuttler Adams was last years FYN Sports Player Of The Year for a reason, and he should put up even better numbers this year. The do-it-all back rushed for over 2,000 yards and accounted for over 30 touchdowns, even while missing some time due to injury. With his running mate Kage Williams still recovering from shoulder surgery, Adams workload will increase even more in 2022. Williams will be sorely missed on the defensive side of the ball, and that could be the only hole the Knights have to fill heading into the new season. Obviously they will be working with their 3rd starting quarterback in as many seasons, but from what I’ve heard this summer, Donovan Carpenter should slide in and fill that role nicely.
Record Prediction: 8-2
One could make a very valid argument that Andrews should be favored to win the conference this year as they return all but 1 starter from last year’s team. The main problem I have with putting Andrews in the number 1 spot, is the same problem that’s always surrounded Andrews. Their depth. Being one of the smallest schools in 1A football, Andrews fields a team of about 20-25 kids. This year’s numbers could go up given their recent success, but it’s still a concern as to whether or not they can remain fully healthy for all 10 regular season games. Andrews showed they were building something special last season, and if they are able to keep their main core healthy heading into their final two games of the season against Robbinsville and Murphy, they may very well find themselves at the top of this list when it’s all said and done.
Isaac Weaver and Austin Martin will account for most of the Cat’s offense in 2022 just as they did in 2021, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Head Coach James Phillips gives his quarterback, Donovan Bateman, some opportunities to put the ball in the air. The Wildcats have some solid receivers returning, and if they can threaten to hurt you through the air even a little bit, they will be a tough out for most teams this Fall.
Record Prediction: 7-3
The Dogs will enter into their second year with Head Coach Joseph Watson at the helm, and he and his staff will have their toughest challenge yet. Although they return 8 defensive starters, they have some huge holes to fill in the defensive backfield. Juan Allen and Payton McCracken were perhaps the best DB duo the SMC has seen in a while, and they won’t be easily replaced. Luckily for Murphy, they return most of their “Big Dawgs” upfront on the Oline and Dline. That, along with a solid core of running backs in Ty Laney, Hunter Stalcup, and John Ledford, should help them claw their way back in the mix at the top of the SMC once again.
Cole Laney will take over the reigns as starting quarterback for the Black and Gold, and he has shown a lot of promise this summer. Cole has earned the trust of his teammates and they back him 100%, which says a lot about the type of leader he is. Cole has the arm to help the Dogs get it done this year, and it will be interesting to see who emerges as his top target.
Record Prediction: 6-4
The Yellow Jackets bring back maybe the top quarterback in the conference in Logan Caldwell, and luckily for the rising Senior his top 2 receivers from last season return alongside him. Kyle Lunsford and Taylor McClure combined for over 1,200 of Caldwell’s 2,302 passing yards last year, and the trio will look to maintain that same connection in 2022. Offense hasn’t necessarily been the reason for the Jackets struggles as of late however, as they gave up a whopping 35 points per game last year. As Senior Avery Leatherwood returns from injury, perhaps he and Taylor McClure can help sure up an otherwise shaky defense.
Another year of experience, a favorable non-conference schedule, and perhaps the best line the Hive has seen in years, should make for a fun season for Yellow Jacket fans.
Record Prediction: 5-5
Swain County fans may have a heart attack when they look down on the field opening night and see the Devils in a Spread offense instead of the trusty Veer they’ve seen for so long. With Sherman Holt taking over the reigns as Head Coach and coming from a program that liked to throw the ball around, most expect the Maroon Devils to move toward a more pass heavy offense. It seems like Swain has the athletes to make it work, but it’s also going to be a heck of a learning curve for a team returning 6 offensive starters. There’s just too much unknown to put the Maroon Machine any higher than 5th in the preseason rankings, but that’s not to say they won’t climb if they’re able to emulate the high powered offense that Coach Holt expects from his teams.
Record Prediction: 4-6
It’s hard to imagine a Cherokee Braves team without Donald Bradley. He’s been the center piece of their offense for what seems like forever. The impact Bradley had on the game when the ball was in his hands can’t be replicated, but the next guy in line in Kaden “Tso” Smith should do a pretty darn good job. Defense is where the Braves will struggle the most this season. Losing 4 of their top 5 tacklers to graduation, the Braves are going to have to rely heavily on Junior standout Luke Climbingbear to lead their defense. Even though it looks like they’ll be returning 7 starters on paper, the holes that are left seem to just be too big at the moment to put them any higher than 6TH.
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
No individual player on any other team in the conference makes the impact that Cuttler does with the Knights. He’s runs with authority when he’s carrying the rock, and he makes opposing QBs think twice before throwing his way when he’s on defense. Adams has been in our Player of The Year conversation since his Freshman campaign, and I don’t expect things to change anytime soon.
PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Caldwell threw for over 2,300 yards last season as a Junior for the Jackets, and he returns for his Senior season looking to get closer to the ever elusive 3,000 yard mark. Caldwell’s top receiving targets return along with an improved line, which is a recipe for a “Heisman” type of year for Logan Caldwell.
PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Brock Adams is a lock in the defensive backfield. He hauled in 7 interceptions last season, and tacked on nearly 60 tackles to go along with it. Each year he’s been a starter, Adams statistics have increased in every category. Adams should shine this year as he steps into a leadership role as a Senior on a talented Black Knights team.
PRESEASON ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
The Swiss-Army Knife that is Isaac Weaver. Not only did he eclipse the 1,000 yard mark on the ground last year, he also led the team in touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards, and interceptions. Weaver is a dynamite player, and if he is able to stay healthy all year, he could cement himself as one of the greatest Wildcats to ever darken the halls of AHS.
Preseason All-Conference team-
Logan Caldwell, Hayesville
Donovan Bateman, Andrews
Isaac Weaver, Andrews
Ty Laney, Murphy
Austin Martin, Andrews
Cuttler Adams, Robbinsville
Wide Receiver/Tight End:
Will Johnson, Murphy
Kyle Lunsford, Hayesville
Brock Adams, Robbinsville
Carlos Lopez, Robbinsville
Lane O’Dell, Hayesville
Kyle Willard, Murphy
Mason Thrasher, Murphy
Nolan Fisher, Swain
Nathan Bogdanowicz, Swain
Dalton Rose, Andrews
Jeremy Graves, Hayesville
Luke Climbingbear, Cherokee
Drew Martin, Andrews
Ty Laney, Murphy
Kage Williams, Robbinsville*
Cuttler Adams, Robbinsville
Isaac Weaver, Andrews
Brock Adams, Robbinsville
Taylor McClure, Hayesville
TOP GAMES IN 2022-
Week 1- Murphy vs Franklin
Week 2- Swain vs Smoky Mountain
Week 3- Robbinsville vs Mountain Heritage
Mountain Heritage was
Week 4- Andrews @ Mitchell
Week 5- Hayesville vs Tuscola
Week 6- Robbinsville vs Alleghany
Week 7- Cherokee @ Murphy
Week 8- Swain @ Andrews
Week 9- Murphy @ Robbinsville
Week 10- Robbinsville @ Andrews
Week 11- Andrews @ Murphy
Maroon Devils Headed To SMC Championship Game Behind Hyatt’s Fourth Quarter PerformanceTeamFYNSports February 15, 2022
Bryson City- Swain and Robbinsville took center-stage on Tuesday night for a Smoky Mountain Conference tournament semi-final matchup. Swain County’s Cooper Hyatt caught fire in the fourth quarter, and helped the Maroon Devils come away with a 66-61 victory.
Donnavin Groenwald and Isaiah Collins led the Maroon Devils in scoring, dropping 15 a piece. Brock Adams and Kamdyn Jordan led the Black Knights with 18 a piece, respectively.
Cooper Hyatt (or should I say “Mr. Fourth Quarter”) dropped 12 points in the final quarter of the game, including 9 of Swains first 12 points to start the fourth. It seemed like Hyatt was right there every time Swain needed a big play, and he should definitely be awarded the figurative “game ball” for his performance tonight.
Robbinsville controlled the tempo in the first half, which played in favor of #2 Brock Adams who had 12 points through the first two quarters. Adams had two quick buckets to start the second quarter, and allowed the Black Knights to jump out to a 22-12 lead. Josh Collins helped the Maroon Devils answer with a couple deep three’s, and with 1:45 left in the half it was a 26-25 ballgame as Swain had cut the lead to just one.
Offensive boards were key for Robbinsville early on though, as Kam Jordan snagged one off the glass and layed in a 2 at the buzzer, giving the Black Knights a 30-25 lead at the break.
The third quarter was a back and forth affair as Swain cut the lead to 1 point two different times. But both times, a big three from the Black Knights put an end to the Maroon Devil run. Brock Adams buried a three pointer as the buzzer sounded at the end of the third quarter, allowing Robbinsville to take a 45-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
Cooper Hyatt came out with his hair on fire to start the final quarter, scoring nine of the Devils first twelve fourth quarter points. The Maroon Devils quickly found themselves in the lead for the first time all night, and with 3:55 to go in the game Robbinsville called a timeout, staring at a 54-52 deficit.
Out of the timeout, Isaiah Collins hit a quick layup and then came away with a steal which lead to a Groenwald and-one, and gave the Maroon Devils a 9 point lead.
With under a minute left to go in the game, Kam Jordan was fouled and hit two free throws to cut the Swain lead to 7, but it was too little too late for the Black Knights as Swain took the dub, 66-61.