BOONE — If Watauga head football coach Ryan Habich wanted his Pioneers to get a stern test of what the upcoming season has the potential to be, East Surry provided it at the jamboree played at Kidd Brewer Stadium Aug. 15.
Watauga also had to contend with North Surry, but it was the passing of East Surry quarterback Jefferson Boaz that presented Watauga’s defense with what could be the best passing game the Pioneers see this season.
That was fine with Habich, who wanted the Pioneers to be tested by the Cardinals, who have four players who have verbally committed to play with Power Conference college programs.
“That’s why we scheduled to play them the most and they played their starters the whole time versus us, which is good,” Habich said. “We rotate a lot of people in and our goal in scrimmages is to rotate a lot people. We really don’t have a starting lineup right now and we use the two scrimmages to evaluate our kids and let them play to show what they can do.”
Boaz, a 6-foot-7 quarterback, has verbally committed to play at North Carolina. He used his passing skills to move the football and score four touchdowns against Watauga. East Surry and North Surry also played Ashe County, the fourth team in the jamboree.
Ashe County did not play Watauga because the two teams play each other on Aug. 30 during the regular season.
Habich said he will start to piece together the information he’s acquired about the Pioneers from the scrimmages and practices and start game planning against T.C. Roberson, Watauga’s first opponent of the season. Watauga will have a depth chart prepared on Aug. 19.
“The top of the depth chart will get most of the reps and you can really build your chemistry,” Habich said. “This is great to see what the guys can do because scrimmages allow you to build depth before the season.”
Watauga, which opened the 10-play drive segment of the scrimmage against East Surry with five straight Anderson Castle passes. Castle completed three of those throws, which moved the Pioneers to the East Surry 9-yard line. Two plays later Jaiden Bond scored from the 6-yard line.
East Surry scored on its first play of the scrimmage, The Cardinals used a swing pass for 31 yards and scored two plays later on a 9-yard Boaz run. During the next segment, a five-play possession, East Surry scored on another 29-yard pass play.
East Surry added a touchdown, a 27-yard touchdown pass play. But Watauga’s defense started to slow the Cardinals down on their next two drives. Boaz went deep on a pass in the second set of downs, but Sebastian Best intercepted a pass by Joe Penley.
Best’s return to the North Surry 35-yard line set up a Castle 3-yard touchdown run.
“We’re not trying to win scrimmages,” Habich said. “I tell the kids we’re using a lot of base formations and not a lot of jumps and shifts. We’re just seeing how the kids block base things.”
Habich, who was not happy with Watauga’s effort in the first scrimmage at Maiden, felt Watauga was more physical against East Surry and North Surry.
“What really improved was our attitude and our effort,” Habich said. “Last Saturday, the attitude and effort was not where it needed to be. We were humbled a little bit, we went against a team that has four FBS power five recruits. Our kids know we have a lot ways to go, especially on defense — we’ve got to find some guys who will be more physical on defense. Offensively, the challenge is to improve on the offensive line.”