Off and running

Watauga’s Jaiden Bond turns up field with the help of linemen Dakota Silvers (75) and Adrion Cassiday.

BOONE — Watauga is sending its second-straight player to the East-West All-Star football game this summer.

This year, Jaiden Bond will represent the Pioneers in the game, which will be played at Grimsley High School in Greensboro on July 22. The day of the game could be changed because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Last year, defensive back Jackson Greene played in the game. Greene eventually walked on to the Appalachian State football program for the 2019 season.

Bond is a preferred walk-on at Western Carolina this fall. He and Greene joined quarterback Anderson Castle and offensive lineman Josh Headlee, who both played in the Shrine Bowl, as recent participants in all-star games.

“It’s pretty neat because in the last few years, we’ve had quite a few athletes selected for all-star games whether it’s the Shrine Bowl or the East-West All-Star game,” Watauga football coach Ryan Habich said. “Jackson Greene played last year and had a really good time and played well. Of course, Anderson Castle played in the Shrine Bowl and so did Headlee, so it’s neat to have your seniors be selected for these prestigious all-star games.”

Bond gained more than 2,200 multi-purpose yards in 2019. Bond gained 1,584 yards and scored 16 touchdowns rushing for the Pioneers. He also caught 18 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns.

Bond was also a three-year starter on defense. He made 73 tackles in 2019, four that were for a loss of yardage. He intercepted three passes and recovered seven fumbles for the Pioneers.

“Jaiden was a very dynamic player for us,” Habich said. “He was a three-year starter for us. He could do a lot of things very, very well. He’s going to be a really good college football player at Western. He’s a competitor and he was such a dynamic wingback player for us this year. This year, he really became a good runner with the ball. He was a really good outside runner for us, but this year he bulked up a bit and we were able to use him, when Bryce (Satterfield) went down, to run inside a little bit more.”

Habich, who also has recently coached in the Shrine Bowl, did not know whether Bond would play on offense or defense in the all-star game.

“Once you get there, they do different things so you never really know,” Habich said. “I think they anticipate him playing slot receiver, however he could play defensive back at cornerback.”

Habich, who feels Western Carolina will use Bond on offense, said Bond can do more offensively than run the football.

“He knows how to block,” Habich said. “That’s one thing we required our kids to do is block for each other. When you get to the next level, that’s one thing they require, and high school kids have a hard time learning how to do.”

Bond helped Watauga finish 13-2 overall in 2019, 6-0 and in first place in the Northwestern Conference. The Pioneers won three state 3-A playoff games before falling to eventual state champion Weddington.

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