Smoky Mountain football is back

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School is back in session in Jackson County and that can only mean one thing: Mustang football is back!

Smoky Mountain High School is proud of their teams, but they live for Friday night lights down on Babe Howell Field. The Mustangs have started their 2012 campaign to make it back to the playoffs for the second year in a row, after coming off of a 6-7 record last year.

The Mustangs opened the season on the road against the Cherokee Braves, but haven’t found too much luck on the field as they have dropped their first two contests. But don’t think they’re down and out yet. Head coach David Napert saw his team make a big turnaround last year in his first year as head coach at Smoky Mountain, and believes the best is yet to come.

“We’re not into our conference schedule yet, and our boys have worked too hard this offseason not to get back into the playoffs,” said Napert.

The season began by seeing the starting quarterback, Zeb Speir, being taken off the field in an ambulance after a late hit gave Speir a severe concussion and a sprained neck. Speir, son of WCU Head Coach Mark Speir, is a sophomore at Smoky Mountain and was expected to take the leading role throughout the season.

The Sylva area has had a long tradition of backing the Mustangs, and it’s evident when you see the stands at any home game. It doesn’t seem to matter how the game is turning out. You’ll always find diehard Mustang fans cheering on their team.

“It’s been like this for as long as I can remember,” said Toby Norman. “We pack the stands every Friday night, and no matter how the team is doing, we’ll be there til the last play is over. The community seems to stop what they’re doing when Friday night comes around.”

The Mustangs continue their out of conference schedule on Friday when they go on the road to play the Jets of Enka High School, and will start their conference schedule on September 14 against Tuscola.