Murphy junior Slade McTaggart takes a handoff from Joey Curry during a scrimmage against Asheville at A.C. Reynolds on Aug. 9. The Bulldogs are back in action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Western Carolina University. Photo by KEVIN HENSLEY

Bulldog fans blacked out on TV game

   Cullowhee – The total solar eclipse isn’t the only blackout coming to Cherokee County this week.
   High school football season is here, and Murphy’s state 1A champion Bulldogs were rewarded to start the season with a primetime televised matchup against Pisgah on Thursday night at Western Carolina University. Only trouble is, many folks in Cherokee County will not be able to see it.
   The game is being carried on WMYA Channel 40 of Anderson, S.C. The station ties in with the normal television package out of Asheville and the rest of western North Carolina, save for residents of Cherokee and Clay counties who have satellite television.
   Murphy Cable and Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corp. television packages also do not carry the channel, blacking out nearly everyone in Murphy. Only residents with digital converter boxes – formerly known as rabbit ears – can pick up the station on Channel 13.2, according to a representative of WMYA. Bulldogs head coach David Gentry, for one, is fine with the situation.
   “I’m glad we can’t see it (on TV here) because I want my people there,” Gentry said Monday. “Pisgah is going to bring 2,000, maybe 3,000 people, so I would like to have a few of our people there, too.
   “It’s a big game for the boys, and I told them they have to get used to playing in big games like this,” Gentry added.
   The station broadcasts 10 other games this season, and every participant in those games – including Smoky Mountain Conference members Cherokee and Robbinsville – has access to Asheville stations on satellite platforms.
   Satellite customers in Cherokee County are relegated to Chattanooga, Tenn.-area stations, even if they live in the Topton area, more than 114 miles from the home city. Clay County satellite customers get Atlanta stations.
   The WMYA website’s home page includes a link to a “preview” of the Pisgah-Murphy game, but it only includes a 90-second ad and nine seconds of the teams’ logos zooming in and out.
   There is no live-streaming option for Thursday’s game online, the WYMA representative said.
   This actually makes two consecutive televised games for Murphy, as the Bulldogs’ state title win over Plymouth was carried on Time Warner Cable – another service not available in Cherokee County.