A win at Freedom

Watauga coach Ryan Habich talks to his 2019 Pioneers after a win over Freedom. The Pioneers’ 2020 schedule was released Sept. 14 and is limited to seven games.

Watauga football coach Ryan Habich announced Sept. 14 that the Pioneers will play a seven-game schedule, which involves a six-game Northwestern Conference slate and a non-conference game at Asheville T.C. Roberson.

Practices officially begin Feb. 5 and games start Feb. 25. Habich said some teams weren’t able to schedule seven games. Each program is allowed seven weeks to play games.

“There was no way we could have 11 games, so seven is good,” Habich said. “I’m just hoping that we are able to play seven to be realistic. When you look at the weather and how much the sports overlap, I’m just hoping we’re able to play Feb. 25.”

Watauga’s season begins on Feb. 25 at South Caldwell. The following week, the Pioneers play the first of three home games in its season starting with Alexander Central on March 5.

Watauga returns to the road to play at Hickory March 12 before hosting St. Stephens March 19. Watauga plays at McDowell March 26 and closes out its home schedule April 1 with Freedom at Jack Groce Stadium.

April 1 is also Senior Night for the Pioneers.

“Realistically, you hope to play 5-7 games,” Habich said. “I think that would be a bonus for a kid to play this year. I would have liked to play more than seven, but we’ll play as many as we can.”

Watauga finishes the regular season with a non-conference game at T.C. Roberson April 9. The first round of the state playoffs is April 16. The championship game is May 8 after three weekends of playoff games.

All games, except for the state finals, are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

“We really lucked out we were able to play T.C. because we had the last bye week in our conference and we play six conference games,” Habich said. “Because our bye week was in week seven, it would have been hard to find a game, but T.C. Roberson isn’t playing all of their conference teams and they were able to have a bye week.”

Watauga is the defending Northwestern Conference champion after posting a 13-2 overall record in 2019 and a 6-0 league record. The Pioneers reached the 3-AA Western Regional finals before falling to eventual state champions Weddington.

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