Taking the field

Watauga’s football team, led onto the field from Sebasstian Best (14), Sterling Sauls (50), Eli Towle (57), Lamon Partee (81), Jaiden Bond (21) and Jake Watson (5) take the field before its game with T.C. Roberson. The Pioneers play at Ashe County at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 30.

BOONE — It doesn’t matter that Watauga head football coach Ryan Habich saw his Pioneers cruise to a 50-21 victory over visiting T.C. Roberson on Aug. 23.

It doesn’t matter that Avery County claimed a 55-33 win over Ashe County, Watauga’s next opponent, on the same night. It also doesn’t matter to Habich that Watauga has beaten Ashe six straight times, including a 43-7 rout at Jack Groce Stadium in 2018.

Habich is approaching the Pioneers’ upcoming game at Ashe County on Aug. 30 the same way he would approach a game against 3-AA state champion Weddington the same way.

He wants the Pioneers to be smart, be disciplined and respect the fact that Ashe County would love to pull off an upset win.

“Our kids know that it’s a rivalry game and it’s once of those things where if we take a team for granted, we’re not going to win,” Habich said. “It is a game I think we have an advantage skill-wise and in size, but that doesn’t always win football games.”

Watauga’s offense looked like a vintage Pioneers attack. The Pioneers, after running very basic sets and plays in two preseason scrimmages, shifted four players and then got the ball to running back Bryce Satterfield, who scored on an 80-yard run on the first play of their game against TC. Roberson.

Watauga quarterback Anderson Castle had a big day by gaining 206 yards and scoring four touchdowns, while Satterfield added 170 yards rushing on just 11 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Watauga finished the game with 473 yards of rushing and 592 yards in total offense.

“Anderson Castle is as good a player that there is in our area,” Ashe coach Brian Hampton said. “With Bryce Satterfield and (wingback) Jaiden Bond, they have the most athletic backfield they’ve had in a while.”

Ashe County trailed Avery 15-14 at halftime, but the Vikings scored 32 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarter to claim a 53-14 lead. Ashe County scored the final 19 points of the game on three touchdowns, but the game had already been decided.

Ashe County quarterback Dawson Cox completed 28-of-56 passes for 461 yards and five touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions. The Huskies’ top receiver Austin Poe caught 14 passes for 268-yards, including a 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

But Ashe’s running game, which is breaking in an offensive line that graduated four seniors from a team that graduated 16 seniors overall and finished 10-3 in 2018, created just 23 yards rushing. Timothy Peterson, who gained 2,209 yards and scored 27 touchdowns in 2018, settled for 29 yards rushing against Avery.

Still, Habich said keeping the Pioneers focused on Ashe and not looking forward to Reagan, a 4-A playoff team in 2018, won’t be too difficult. The odds of Watauga players bumping into their Ashe County counterparts over the school year is much larger than seeing Reagan players, so the bragging rights are bigger with the Huskies.

“For them, the Ashe game is a bigger game than the Reagan game,” Habich said. “They don’t know who Reagan is. They don’t even know where Reagan is located. (Reagan) is not really a rivalry game and this is and not a conference game. I’ll bet if you ask 85 percent of them on the team, they probably can’t tell you who we play after Ashe.”

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