By David Rogers. September 22, 2017. BOONE, NC — A High Country cloudburst and late afternoon thunderstorm had no sooner cleared the area, but that didn’t mean all the lightning had left Jack Groce Stadium Friday night. Watauga’s Pioneers flashed by visiting South Caldwell in dazzling fashion, 48-7.
COVER IMAGE: Anderson Castle looks deep. The sophomore completed 5-of-7 passes for 149 yards and 3 TDs. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
Watauga quarterback Anderson Castle didn’t pass much Friday night at Jack Groce Stadium against Northwestern Conference rival South Caldwell, but when he did, he made it count. Only a sophomore, Castle completed 5-of-7 passes for 149 yards, and his three touchdown passes spread among three different receivers: Zach West (61 yards), Jaidon Bond (23 yards), and Grant Oliver (35 yards).
Anderson was also the game’s leading rusher, packing the pigskin nine time for 95 yards and accounting for another TD. With sophomore running back Bryce Satterfield held out of this week’s game with what was described as a minor injury, junior RB Ben Critcher stepped in for 32 yards on six carries and punching the ball into the end zone for two TDs. Wingback Jackson Greene scooted for 37 yards on just three carries (a 12.3 yard average) and a TD, a 14-yard burst in the first quarter.
At first sight, the outside observer might have looked for a different result given the Spartans’ size advantage over the Pioneers, and it might be confirmed by looking at a roster and seeing the age differential. With few seniors (5) and nine sophomores raided from the junior varsity team this year, Watauga head coach Ryan Habich’s charges could have been viewed as physically outmatched.
But somebody forgot to tell the Pioneers to be intimidated by size or to respect their elders. Watauga’s offense rolled up 385 yards of total offense, while the defense limited South Caldwell to just 207. As in the non-conference games leading up to Friday’s Northwestern Conference opener for both schools, the undefeated Pioneers were quick strike masters. Watauga’s scoring drives:
- 4 plays, 44 yards (Ben Critcher, 13-yard run)
- 9 plays, 73 yards (Jackson Greene, 14-yard run)
- 3 plays, 61 yards (Zach West, 61-yard pass from Anderson Castle)
- INTERCEPTION by Jaidon Bond
- 1 play, 2 yards (Ben Critcher, 2-yard run)
- 7 plays, 92 yards (Jaidon Bond, 23-yard pass from Anderson Castle)
- 1 play, 35 yards (Grant Oliver, 35-yard pass from Anderson Castle)
- 9 plays, 87 yards (Anderson Castle, 42-yard run)
After the Pioneers went ahead 48-0 early in the third quarter, the NCHSAA “mercy rule” went into effect, resulting in the clock running without any stoppages except for timeouts, which shortened the game considerably.
Watauga has a stiffer test next Friday night in Taylorsville, tackling the Northwestern Conference pre-season favorite to win the conference crown, Alexander Central. It will be a battle of undefeateds as the Cougars, like Watauga, will go into the game undefeated.
The only common opponent in early season play has been Wilkes Central, which Alexander Central defeated 28-6 on August 25th. Two weeks later, Watauga outpointed the same Eagles, 50-26.
While the Pioneers were taking care of business vs. South Caldwell, Alexander Central was manhandling the Warriors of West Caldwell in another Northwestern Conference opener, 59-35.