BOONE — Watauga running back Bryce Satterfield knows he is unique when it comes to being on the Watauga Pioneers’ football team. Every time he steps onto the field, he steps into a spotlight that other players don’t have to worry about.
Satterfield is the oldest son of Appalachian State head football coach Scott Satterfield. Now coaching in his fifth season, Scott Satterfield has been a fixture of App State football since he became the starting quarterback for the Mountaineers back in 1992-95. He was an assistant coach for 12 years at App State, and took over the App State program as head coach in 2013.
Bryce Satterfield is making a name for himself in Watauga County as the starting fullback, otherwise known as the “B-back,” for Pioneers this season. One of eight sophomores on the varsity roster, Satterfield became the starter in the second game for the 4-0 Pioneers, who had a bye this past weekend and host Northwestern Conference rival South Caldwell on Sept. 22.
Satterfield said growing up around football, and around the fact that his father is a high-profile college football coach, any expectations the public might have of him don’t rattle him.
“It doesn’t really faze me,” Bryce Satterfield said. “I just go out and do what I do.”
“I think there is probably some added pressure there,” Scott Satterfield said. “Whether he feels that or not, I don’t know. Just because I’m in the public eye, it’s a natural thing to say that since his dad was a football coach, he should be a football player or whatever.”
Satterfield, known as “Little Satt” to his teammates, is one of six sophomores who line up on the offensive of the ball. Three of them — Satterfield, wingback Jaiden Bond and quarterback Anderson Castle — play key roles in the Watauga offense.
Few prep coaches, especially at a 3-A program, welcome that much youth. Yet, the Watauga trio, which has two sophomores blocking along the offensive line for them, have produced enough points to have the Pioneers averaging 46.5 points per game. That’s just five points fewer than the senior-dominated 2016 edition that sent B-back Evan Suggs to Wofford and wingback Corey West to UNC Pembroke.
“Every year we’re getting better and better,” Satterfield said. “We’re just sophomores this year. We have a good class and I think we’ll do well every year.”
With the success Bryce is having, opponents are likely going to notice and give him plenty of attention on Friday night, no matter who his father is. Having a well-known surname may get him some initial glances, but having gained 463 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on just 58 carries — an average of 158.8 yards per game and 7.9 yards per carry – will get him plenty of looks from opposing coaches.
“I tell kids all the time that we don’t care who you are, we don’t care what grade you are, we don’t care what you did last year, we always play the best people,” Watauga coach Ryan Habich said. “It’s not really affecting our team. It doesn’t really play much of a factor with his teammates, either. They play for one another.”
Scott Satterfield saw his share of success as a quarterback by leading the Mountaineers to an undefeated 11-0 regular season record and a Division I-AA playoff berth in 1995.
Bryce Satterfield followed in his father’s footsteps when it comes to playing football, but the son has no desire to play quarterback. He is perfectly happy playing the Pioneers’ primary running back position.
“I played quarterback in pee-wee ball, but I just like running the ball,” Bryce Satterfield said. “That’s where they got me at now.”
Satterfield was initially tried at B-back in Watauga’s scrimmage the week before the Pioneers’ season opener at T.C. Roberson. He emerged as one of the Pioneers’ key weapons when he came off the bench to gain 118 yards and score a touchdown on just 13 carries in the Pioneers’ 35-34 win against the Rams.
Satterfield won the starting B-back job in time for the Pioneers’ game the next week at Ashe County, where he gained 84 yards on nine carries in a game that saw Bond gain 224 yards rushing to lead the Pioneers.
His status as a go-to player was solidified in the Pioneers’ 49-8 win over Avery two weeks later. Satterfield torched Avery for five touchdowns and 152 rushing yards on 14 carries, gaining all but one of the yards in the first half, in the Sept. 1 showdown. His longest carry was a 70-yard burst that ended inside the 1-yard line.
It allowed Habich to keep the former starting B-back Ben Critcher on the defensive side of the ball. Critcher occasionally plays B-back, but having Satterfield in the Watauga backfield allows Critcher to play linebacker full time and gives him some rest and Watauga some needed depth.
“We didn’t put him on the varsity right off the bat,” Habich said. “He had some physical tools that we thought he had a chance. When we took pictures, he was with the JVs first, but he and some other guys — we’re going to evaluate through the scrimmages and they would play JV or varsity. (Satterfield) did really well on the varsity in scrimmages and we decided to move him up.”
Scott Satterfield did not get to see the Avery game. He was in Athens, Ga. getting his Mountaineers ready to play Georgia the next day.
It didn’t mean he was left in the dark on what was going on in Newland.
“I was on the phone just getting text messages from (his wife) Beth on what he was doing, and other people in the stands were texting me,” Scott Satterfield said. “That’s the hard part, but I got to go back and watch the film and relive it through the video after the fact. You’ve got to take advantage of it when you get an opportunity when he has a home game and we have a home game to go out and watch him play.”
Habich added that having Satterfield in the lineup is like having any other parent’s kid on the field.
“The thing about Boone is such a small town, so whether you’re a college coach, it really doesn’t matter,” Habich said. “We all go to church with each other. We all see each other out in the community. I don’t think it’s really a high profile thing. People kind of look at him in that aspect, but he’s a good player and he’s a good teammate. His dad being a coach at ASU is not really a big deal for our team.”
Bryce and Scott are not the only athletes in the family. Bryce’s mother, Beth Satterfield, was a standout track and field athlete while attending Appalachian State.
Bryce’s brother Isaac, a freshman, is on the Watauga junior varsity football team, while sister Alli is a starter on the Hardin Park volleyball team.
“The great thing about my three kids and in this case Bryce, they’ve grown up in it their whole lives,” Scott Satterfield said. “This is all that they know and so for them this is normal.”