BOONE — Watauga’s football team has a final dress rehearsal before it faces the opening curtain of the 2019 season Aug. 23.
The Pioneers will participate in a jamboree scrimmage involving Ashe County, East Surry and North Surry at 6 p.m. on Aug. 15. The event will be held at Appalachian State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Watauga plays for keeps when it opens the regular season at home Aug. 23 against visiting T.C. Roberson at Jack Groce Stadium. It is the first of 11 straight games for the Pioneers, who won’t have a bye until the final week of the season.
Watauga’s schedule has been upgraded from the slate the Pioneers went through during a highly successful 2018 season. The Pioneers, who finished 13-1 overall, 8-0 in the Northwestern Conference, reached the fourth round of the state 3-AA playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Weddington.
But the Pioneers also lost several key players from that team, including defensive stalwarts safety Jackson Greene, linebackers Eli Suggs and Ben Critcher and cornerback/wingback Zach West.
The Pioneers return several starters on offense including quarterback Anderson Castle, running back Bryce Satterfield, wingback Jaiden Bond and center Sterling Sauls. Also coming back is guard Adrion Cassidy, who with backup quarterback Jaxon Harmon missed Watauga’s scrimmage at Maiden because of being involved in a multi-car accident on Aug. 6.
Watauga coach Ryan Habich is hopeful the Pioneers can correct the mistakes they made at Maiden in the jamboree at Kidd Brewer. He’s counting on the returning players to show leadership and new players to improve on their performances from Maiden.
“We’re in the process of developing leaders,” Habich said. “We’re in the process of developing team chemistry and team ownership.”
Watauga won’t scrimmage against Ashe County since the teams play a regular season game Aug. 30 in West Jefferson. The Pioneers will line up against East Surry, which went 11-4 last season and reached the third round of the state 1-AA playoffs.
Watauga will also scrimmage North Surry, which finished 7-5 in 2018 and was bounced from the 2-A state playoffs 35-6 by Hendersonville.
Watauga faces a T.C. Roberson team looking to avenge a 36-12 loss to the Pioneers on the first weekend of the schedule. After hosting the Rams, Watauga plays at Ashe County (10-3 in 2018), which beat the Huskies 43-7 last year, the Pioneers play at Ronald Reagan on Sept. 6 and host Wilkes Central on Sept. 13.
Watauga handled Wilkes Central 43-14 last year, while Reagan, a 4-A program that went 8-5 last year, hosts Watauga Sept. 27. Watauga finishes the non-conference section of its schedule at home against Gastonia Ashbrook, which Watauga beat 49-0 in the first round of the state 3-AA playoffs.