BOONVILLE — After kicking off the postseason with back-to-back comfortable wins, Starmount faces its stiffest test of the season tonight in the third round of the 1AA playoffs.
The Rams head Bryson City to square off with perennial powerhouse Swain County tonight in the Elite 8 showdown between the top two teams in the West bracket.
Starmount is coming off a convincing 21-0 victory over Cherryville last week to advance, while the Maroon Devils battled past Avery County, 31-10, to punch their ticket.
The Rams (10-3) have won their last five games in convincing fashion, only allowing 27 points in that span, while pitching two shutouts. The Maroon Devils (11-2) come into the contest as winners of their last seven, however, where they’ve put up over 56 points in three of those games.
Tailback Will Simpson leads Starmount’s powerful rushing attack that is averaging nearly 275 yards per game. The senior has rushed for 975 yards on the year with 18 scores, including six touchdowns in the first two games of the postseason.
The Rams topped the 300-yard mark on the ground for the sixth time this season last week against Cherryville, the first time doing so since late October against East Wilkes.
Senior quarterback Ray Smith paces the Maroon Devils with more than 6,000 career passing yards. Smith has thrown for 1,646 yards this season with 21 touchdowns, while adding five more on the ground.
Spencer McCoy leads Swain’s rushing game with 1,350 yards and 23 scores, while Blake Wright has ran for 943 yards with eight touchdowns.
Jordan Cody and Kobe Toineeta have tallied more than 600 receiving yards each on the year, while combining for 17 scores.
Swain County is no stranger to the big stage after advancing to the 1AA state championship game each of the last two seasons, winning it all in 2011 over Ayden-Grifton. The Devils lost to Southwest Onslow last year.
In other playoff action, East Surry is the only other area squad still alive after knocking off rival Mount Airy last week, 20-10.
The Cardinals travel to No. 1 West Montgomery tonight.
All games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.