BOONE — Watauga’s football team went into powerful Reagan looking to pull off the upset of the season.
Reagan, especially the Raiders’ offense, was not going to let it happen. Watauga’s offense tried to keep pace with Reagan, but the Raiders rolled to a 63-35 victory on Sept. 6.
Giving up 63 points, even to a 4-A power such as Reagan, is never an enjoyable experience. Still, Watauga will try to rebound from its loss at Reagan with a home showdown against Wilkes Central Sept. 13 at Jack Groce Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The Pioneers (2-1) begin a stretch of three straight home games with Wilkes Central (2-1). Watauga closes out its non-conference schedule Sept. 20 at home against Gastonia Ashbrook and then begins its Northwestern Conference season Sept. 27 against South Caldwell.
Watauga head coach Ryan Habich felt Watauga was “outmanned” and “exposed” by Reagan, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He said the game showed where Watauga needed to improve, especially defensively.
“We’ve got to move people around and make sure we find the right combination so we can be a little tougher on the football field,” Habich said. “Even when a team is bigger and stronger than us, we want to be the tougher football team.”
Habich said Watauga and Wilkes Central have several similarities. Both teams don’t have much depth, but both teams also have solid players, especially in the skill positions.
With Watauga, quarterback Anderson Castle leads the Pioneers in rushing with 464 yards and eight touchdowns. Running back Bryce Satterfield has gained 353 yards and has scored six touchdowns.
Castle averages 7.4 yards per carry and 154.7 yards per game on the ground, while Satterfield averages 117.7 yards per game and 9.5 yards every time he runs the ball.
The Pioneers also feature wingback Jaiden Bond, who has racked up 246 yards, scored three touchdowns and averages 12.3 yards per carry. Sebastian Best has gained 159 yards this season, scored three touchdowns and averages 15.9 yards per carry from his wingback position.
Wilkes Central counters with running back JoRaye Morrison, who ran for 1,436 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in 2018, but missed the Watauga game because of injuries. Morrison ran for 185 yards against Alexander Central last season, and followed that game with a 212-yard outburst against Surry Central.
Habich said Morrison is dangerous in the open field and that Watauga must tackle better than they did against Reagan if they want to contain him.
“He’s a lot like a Barry Sanders-type running back,” Habich said. “He’s a kid that could play for Reagan. He might be a better running back than the kid from Reagan. He ran through Alexander Central last year and he was actually injured in the first quarter against us.”
Wilkes Central also returns quarterback Josh Pack, who also plays defense, and has Habich’s attention.
Habich said the Watauga defense is still a work in progress. He would like to have a better idea of what the defense would look like before the Pioneers face South Caldwell.
“We’re still moving people around,” Habich said. “We’re trying to find the right combination of players for conference play. We knew going in we would be very inexperienced. We lost a lot of players, but we’re getting better up front. That’s where we thought our strength would be.”