Murphy Bulldogs and Robbinsville Black Knights set to Battle Friday Night

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By Brandon Stephens


(Murphy) – – Nothing could be finer than having more points than your opponent in the game between Murphy and Robbinsville. The atmosphere would be so sweet like winning a conference crown, state championship, even a Super Bowl. The Bulldogs would continue to climb in the conference standings and work to shed a cloak of uncertainty about this Fall’s team being a good team. Robbinsville could earn its first conference win; break a losing streak; and gain some momentum to be more competitive. This game is going to have a lot more to offer the winner than community pride.

Preparations for the Murphy Bulldogs have been excellent. Murphy Head Coach Joseph Watson says, “It’s been nice to get back outside this week. Last week we were inside a couple of days. It was nice to have some good weather and have some up tempo and spirited practices. We are looking forward to the game Friday.”

Are there some take-aways Coach Watson saw with the Cherokee versus Robbinsville game last week? “We’ve played Cherokee and we know they are a good football team, and they are a physical football team. Robbinsville is the same way. They are a good physical football team as well. We are going to prepare for Robbinsville like we always do. We expect to have their (Robbinsville’s) best every time we play. They are going to be ready to play as well,” Watson added.

Robbinsville Black Knights

The Black Knight Offense has an I or Power-I formation look lead by Senior Quarterback Dasan Gross, who is surrounded by Sophomore Running Backs Kage Williams and Cuttler Adams. Published stats and previous game film indicates Adams is a very talented running back that has generated 852 yards of rushing on 112 carries, which averages almost 8 yards per rushing play. Fullback Cage Williams has carried the ball 63 times for 236 yards and averages 3.6 yards per carry.

The larger question is will Cuttler Adams play? Adams has experienced back problems and did not appear to have his usual fluid motion during last week’s Cherokee game. Cuttler is the Halfback that really makes the Robbinsville Offense go. Rumors from Robbinsville say he is questionable for playing in this week’s game. One person does not make an 11-man team, but compared to many teams in this region, Robbinsville really needs Cuttler Adams. My guess he will follow the legacy of many Black Knights that wanted to play through sickness and pain and will find a way to suit up and do battle with the Bulldogs. I am reminded of Kurt Odom (played late in the 2000 decade and later played at Campbell Camels) who would not miss a play-off game at Elkin and was sick with mononucleosis. That’s the spirit of the Black Knights.

The Black Knight Offense will live on counters and power motions. Buck sweeps and counters will fall right into Murphy’s hands. The offensive front line is led by Carlos Wesley (#56 – 6’0 260 lbs. Senior) and Senior Center Carson White (6’3 315lbs). Robbinsville Quarterback Dasan Gross has completed about 61 percent of his passes. Gross has completed 36 of 59 attempts to collect 487 yards on passes, which averages 13.5 yards per completion. His longest pass was 58 yards. When passing, the Black Knight tend to go for shorter screen passes that help simulate some speed in the backfield. Junior Receiver Brock Adams is the favored target for a pass. Brock has caught 25 passes for 343 yards in five games and averages about 13 yards on each reception. Based on the average, Robbinsville is passing the ball about 10 times per game and completing six attempts to move the Black Knights about 80 yards per contest.

The Robbinsville Defense will have a 4-4 look and play cover-3 in the secondary. One method of attack from the Black Knights may include bringing Senior End Eddie Brooms (#42) to an assignment position and play man on Murphy Quarterback Kellen Rumfelt. This is the role Brooms played in Cherokee. Look for Cuttler Adams and Kage Williams to also play at linebacker. Brock Adams will add some speed in the defensive secondary at Free Safety.


The 56-14 win over Hayesville provided a lot of exercise for the Murphy Bulldogs to build its Offensive bandwidth. The linemen played excellent and helped power Juan Allen and Hunter Stalcup to great performances over the Yellow Jackets and build team unity. Murphy is still powered by its run game. Until last week the Bulldogs relied heavily on Running Back Ty Laney, who leads the team with 666 yards on 82 carries and averages 8 yards per rush. On half of the touches, Juan Allen is averaging 11 yards on 41 carries for 465 yards on the season. Sophomore Hunter Stalcup proved he will be a future offensive leader when he racked up 178 yards against Hayesville on 7 carries (average 25 yards per play).

“Our blocking was good (in the Hayesville game). We are finally getting the trap down, which our tackle is doing great, he’s getting his block and we have just had open field to run through,” explained Murphy Running Back Hunter Stalcup. Moving from a freshman on the junior varsity team to varsity this year is more responsibility and work according to Stalcup, but he is doing the work he wants to do. With Robbinsville Hunter says its discipline. “We just have to keep doing the same thing we are doing. Eleven people to the ball every play. But they (Robbinsville) can run it up the middle. Our middle linebacker, Ty Laney, he knows how to fill the hole. We should be good there,” Stalcup explained. Hunter likes how the Bulldogs are developing this season.

Going to the pass, Murphy Quarterback Kellen Rumfelt has maintained a balanced attack going to the air with a 52 percent completion rate (43 completions on 83 attempts) to give Murphy 843 yards in passing this season and 120 yards per game. Payton McCracken remains the team pass reception leader with 380 yards receiving or about 55 yards per game. Key for the Murphy Bulldogs is the pass is not necessarily an offensive attack that is relied upon for advancing the ball between the goal lines. The Bulldogs usually strike gold for a touchdown on its pass attempts, which is about 20 percent of the time.

The Murphy Bulldogs are developing well and building to the team it wants to be says Quarterback Kellen Rumfelt. “Offensively we are on point all night. The starters didn’t have to play but two and a quarter of a quarter. We didn’t have to pass that much, and our line was on point. We feel like we have gotten better every week, especially since (playing) Franklin. We remind ourselves about how we played, and we try to look back on that game and never play like that again. We are just going to keep getting better,” Rumfelt said.

Murphy is averaging 41 points per game and limiting its opponent to 28 points.

Winning this game is priority for more than boasting a win over a rival

Getting the win over the opponent is going to be sweet. Building a position in the conference standing and keeping or building momentum to meet the next conference opponent may be more important. To face a few opponents in your future like Swain and Andrews, Murphy and Robbinsville may need a little more energy and boost in addition to figuring out the game plan. A win for either team Friday will provide the medicine needed to play the last two conference games of the season.  Swain County and Andrews have found some new life in their season or like the Wildcats having a near perfect season, until last week. There are no more “give-me” games in the Smoky Mountain Conference. Don’t overlook Cherokee; Swain County is not a pushover; and Andrews will run the ball down your throat.  Swain County may be worn out  by the last game as it will host Murphy on October 22; travel to Robbinsville on Tuesday, October 26; and finish the regular season hosting Cherokee on Friday, October 29th.  That’s three games in seven days.  Does all of that really matter, because in the southern mountains of western North Carolina we live on football.  “In the Smoky Mountain Conference, you are going to have a tough game every week and especially this year, which is pretty tough conference, and it usually is. We take one game at a time and our next game is the most important game. You have to win that one to get to the next one,” Coach Watson states.

Murphy hosts Robbinsville Friday night, October 15, 2021, at 7:30 at Bob Hendrix Stadium/David Gentry Field. Stay connected to Team FYN Sports for updates, interviews, and analysis of the game.

Dogs Survive: Outlast Cherokee, 29-28

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Photos courtesy of BT Douthit

Cherokee, NC- The Murphy Bulldogs made the hour and a half bus ride to Cherokee last Friday night to take on the Braves in the opening game of conference play for both teams.

The Braves dynamic duo of Don Bradley and Chase Calhoun gave the Bulldogs defense all they wanted, combining for 360 of Cherokee’s 449 total yards of offense. Despite the impressive showing from the two, Murphy was able to pull out a 29-28 victory in the waning minutes of the ballgame. Payton McCracken made chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what, taking in a botched extra point snap for the game winning 2 point conversion late in the Fourth quarter.

The Braves did have a chance to win the game in the final minute, driving the ball all the way down to the 25 yard line before Hunter Laney sealed the win for the Dogs with an interception.

Sophomore Running Back Hunter Stalcup was the player of the game for the Black and Gold, rushing for 88 yards on the ground while averaging 11 yards per carry and tacking on two scores.

This was a game that really showed the Bulldogs flaws and inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. They have some holes to fix before they face Robbinsville-Swain-Andrews in back to back to back weeks to end the regular season.

On the other hand, Murphy showed incredible effort and heart down the stretch in this one, and those are things that cannot be taught.

This weeks homecoming game against Hayesville should allow Murphy to play around with different personnel groups and get some things figured out. A big bounce back game should be in store for the Black and Gold.

Stat leaders for Murphy in their win over Cherokee:


Kellen Rumfelt- 5/12 105 yards


Hunter Stalcup- 8 carries/88 yards/2 touchdowns

Ty Laney- 12 carries/78 yards

Juan Allen- 7 carries/43 yards/2 touchdowns


Payton McCracken- 3 receptions/40 yards

TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week- Abe Abling, No. 1

Murphy Bulldogs, Player of the Week, TeamFYNSports

Congratulations to Abe Abling, this week’s TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week for the Bulldogs!

Abe was the preferred receiver Friday night for quarterback Kellen Rumfelt. He caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Abe scored the first touchdown of the night for the Dogs after catching a 50 yard pass from Rumfelt. The Bulldogs would go on to score four more touchdowns throughout the night, defeating conference opponent Andrews 35-7.

Rumfelt to McCracken too much for Life Christian Academy

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

On the first play of Murphy’s first possession, Murphy quarterback, Kellen Rumfelt, rolled out and found Peyton McCracken for a 72 yard. With 8:54 left in the game Murphy led 6-0 as the extra point attempt was wide. 

Rumfelt and McCracken would connect two more times before the night was through, leading Murphy to a 45-28 win over a very talented group of athletes from Life Christian Academy. 

Murphy quarterback Kellen Rumfelt rolls out for a touchdown pass. Image credit: hudl

Late in the first quarter LCA took advantage of a Murphy fumble and struck on a 7 yard touchdown with a minute left. The two point conversion failed and the score was tied at 6-6 at the end of the first. 

Murphy didn’t let it stay that way long. With only two minutes gone in the second quarter, Ray Rathburn hit paydirt from 10 yards out. Devonte Murray added a two point conversion to take a 14-7 lead. LCA didn’t take long to tie it up with two pass plays, the last being a 21 yard touchdown pass. 

LCA added another two point conversion to tie it again at 14-14 with 8 minutes to go in the first half. Murphy followed that up with a one yard sneak by Rumfelt with 5 minutes to go in half. Two point conversion failed and Murphy led 20-14. LCA scored two minutes later with a 19 yard pass. They missed on their two point conversion and the score was again tied at 20-20.

Murphy had seen enough of the lead changes and took the lead for good with two minutes to go in the half when Rumfelt and McCraken connected again for a 6 yard touchdown pass. Point attempt was good and Murphy led 27-20 at the half.

A Murphy Bulldogs receiver takes it to the house. Image credit: hudl

Murphy took the opening kick of the second half and Devonte Murray, who rushed for 15 times for 124 yards on the night, got 50 plus of those yards to set the Dogs up for their first score of the second half. A couple of plays later the Rumfelt to McCraken connection hit paydirt again from 12 yards out. The conversion failed and Murphy led 33-20. 

The Dogs never relinquished the lead again. Ray Rathburn, who was the leading rusher for the Dogs with 153 yards, scored from 55 yards out later in the third. LCA’s lone second half score came with a 6 yard run for touchdown and a two point conversion to bring the score to Murphy 39, LCA 28. Devonte Murray would seal the deal when he had a three yard touchdown late in the third to net the final Murphy 45, LCA 28.

Rumfelt finished the night with 5 completions for 9 attempts for 102 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown. The Dogs had two 100 yard rushers- Rathburn and Murray.

Murphy opens Smoky Mountain Conference action this Friday night when they travel to Andrews. Kickoff 7:30 p.m.

Bulldogs Fall to Christ School 27-7

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The Murphy Bulldogs hung tough for three quarters of play against Christ School of Asheville, which we will now refer to as University of Christ School. Last week we talked about two different cultures meeting and the challenges that it cause each team to face. This week Murphy was in an unusual position for them. They found themselves on the short end of the stick. 

Christ School has the luxury of recruiting players from all over Western North Carolina and other states, by offering a college prep education to students who if they were not playing football would cost around $30,000 a year. The argument is heard loudest around metro areas where these schools are more prevalent, but it has now made its way to WNC.

A runner for a Murphy touchdown. Image credit: hudl

Teams with the same number of students as a 1A public school, boasting of six to eight D1 commits playing football. The attrition finally got to the Bulldogs midway through the fourth quarter.  Murphy trailed 14-7 midway through the fourth. The dogs had scored on their first possession and went up 7-0, when Murphy scored in two plays after a Rumfelt pass to Justice Dorset set up a 43 yard touchdown scamper by Devonte Murray for a Bulldog touchdown. 

Christ School’s passing game was held in check most of the night by the Bulldog defense, but Christ School running back Pierce Hammonds found running the ball much more productive. Hammonds set up the Greenies first touchdown with a long run down to the Murphy 9 yard line. Quarterback Navy Shuler found former Cherokee Brave, Cade Mintz, in the end zone for a touchdown.  Ayden White added the two point conversion and Christ School took the lead for good 8-7. 

Shuler’s passing game was pretty much held in check in the first half, limiting him to only 6 completions in 18 tries for 86 yards. Unfortunately for the Dogs they didn’t have an answer for Hammonds. After a long pass play that set Christ School up in the red zone, Hammonds hit pay dirt again from nine yards out and the point attempt was wide. Christ School led 14-0 to finish out the half. 

Hammonds put the game away for the Greenies. After two stops by the Murphy defense inside the red zone, Hammonds broke loose on his second touchdown of the night for a 33 yard run. Point attempt was good  and Christ School led 21-0. Wanting to add salt to the wound, Christ School added another touchdown late in the fourth on a 19 yard strike from Shuler to Ayden White. That was the final score- Christ School 27 Murphy 7.

Dogs will host Life Christian Academy next Friday at David Gentry Field in Murphy.

TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week- Devonte Murray

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Congratulations to the TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week for the Murphy Bulldogs, Devonte Murray!

Devonte earned this award for his effort against the Christ School of Asheville on Friday night. He ran for 107 yards and scored a touchdown for the Bulldogs. He played hard all night against a tough Christ School defense.

Congratulations to Devonte on earning this award!

“The Force” not with The Georgia Force against Murphy

Murphy Bulldogs, Team FYN Sports

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

The Georgia Force’s pregame sign read “Murphy Who”, and the Bulldogs took the sign as an insult and showed their displeasure with it on the first offensive play they ran. The Force took the opening kickoff and went three and out. 

After a punt, Murphy was set up on the 20 yard line. Kellin Rumfelt handed off to Devonte Murray on a sweep to the right side. After shedding three tacklers, Murray raced 80 yards for a touchdown. That started an onslaught of scoring by the Dogs en route to a 40-9 drubbing of the Sugar Hill, Georgia team. 

Devonte Murray carries for the Bulldogs. Image credit: hudl

Murray would lead a Bulldog rushing attack that netted 563 yards and five touchdowns. He finished with 13 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns. 

The scoring in the first quarter continued after another change of possession. Justice Dorsey broke loose on a 76 yard run for the second Bulldog score. Point attempt was good and Murphy led 14-0, but the Murphy scoring hadn’t finished in the first quarter. 

After another four and out by the Force, Ray Rathburn, who finished with nine carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, hit paydirt from 6 yards out. The point attempt failed and Murphy led 20-0 at the end of the first stanza.

The Force got their first scoring opportunity in the second quarter when they intercepted an errant Rumfelt pass on their own 24 yard line, stopping the fourth Murphy drive. They were unable to move the ball and Murphy got the ball back around their own 49 yard line. 

Another Murphy miscue turned the ball over to the Force as the Force recovered a Murphy fumble around the Bulldog 41 yard line. After a couple of first downs the Force was held on third down and kicked a successful 20 yard field goal making the score 20-3. 

After a failed onside kick, Murphy was in great scoring position from the five yard line. Rumfelt rolled out and found Murray for a 5 yard touchdown strike. The two point conversion attempt failed and Murphy led 26-3 at halftime. 

Murphy took the second half kickoff and capped off the drive as Murray hit paydirt for the third time on a three yard rush. Point attempt by Luke Ritz was good and Murphy led 33-3. Murphy let some of their younger talent finish out the game. Neither team threatened to score in the third period. 

Murphy gave sophomore Chandler Wood a chance to show his stuff in the fourth stanza and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He had two long touchdown runs that were negated by penalties, and the penalties in this game were numerous. 

Wood finished his night with 13 rushes for 81 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came in the fourth quarter with a 7 yard touchdown. Ritz’s kick was good and Murphy led 40-3. 

The Forces’ lone touchdown came later in the fourth quarter when Stacey Walker returned the kickoff for a 72 yard score. Point attempt was no good and that netted the final score 40-9. 

Two different cultures met in this game and when that happens you always have a learning curve of the way things are done in the other teams’ environment. The game was kept much closer by flags at critical times. Murphy was penalized 19 times for 165 yards. The Force had 12 of their own for 115 yards.

The Murphy offense lined up for a play. Image credit: hudl


The Force, who relied heavily on their passing game, went 12 for 24 for only 109 yards. Rumfelt completed six for twelve for 84 yards and a touchdown. Murphy had 563 yards total offense while the Forces’ gained 200 yards, many of those coming in late in the third and fourth quarter. 

Next week the Bulldogs host the number one ranked team in western North Carolina. The Christ School, led by Appalachian State commit Navy Shuler at quarterback, comes to David Gentry Field. Navy is the son of former University of Tennessee and NFL quarterback Heath Shuler. 

Join on Thursdays for the Smoky Mountain Conference Report from 8 to 9 on FYN Sports as we will have Heath on the show. Kickoff for the game Friday night is at 7:30 p.m.

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