By David Rogers. November 2, 2018. GAMEWELL, NC — For West Caldwell, it was a Senior Night of post-Halloween horrors. The visiting Pioneers left Truss Stadium with a commanding, 62-0 win over the Warriors, locking down the first undefeated, untied season in Watauga’s school history and the first outright Northwestern Conference championship title since 1980.
Nine offensive possessions, nine touchdowns. The tenth possession, Watauga went into victory formation and simply ran out the clock.
By halftime, the Pioneer advantage was already up to 49-0, which triggered the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s “mercy rule” mandating a running clock when a team has at least a 42-point lead over an opponent any time in the second half. It may well have been one of the shortest second halves in North Carolina high school football history, as a result.
Watauga dominated in all phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Led by junior quarterback Anderson Castle and junior running backs Jaiden Bond and Bryce Satterfield, the Pioneer offense rolled up 448 yards of total offense, while the defense limited the Warriors to just 28 net yards TOTAL. Over 31 plays, that is less than 1-yard gained per play by West Caldwell.
A good portion of the Watauga starters played very little in the second half. In fact, most of the team that played the fourth quarter for the Pioneers were reserves, including a number of sophomores and freshmen moved up from junior varsity.
Although carrying the ball only five times, Bond finished with a game-high 78 yards and one TD. Sophomore reserve running back Sebastian Best carried twice in the fourth quarter, but was the second leading rusher with 67 yards and a touchdown.
Castle passed for 135 yards, completing seven of 12 pass attempts with no interceptions and four TDs. He added two more touchdowns on four rushes for 31 yards.
With many of the starters seeing only limited playing time, if any, in the second half, Watauga should be well rested by the time the first round of the state championship rolls around on November 16th. Because the eastern half of the state was adversely affected by hurricanes, the high school teams in that region of the state need to play “catchup” on the regular season. So Watauga will have a bye on Friday, November 9th, while other schools are finishing their regular seasons. Head coach Ryan Habich told his players after the game that they deserve to celebrate the undefeated season and first solo conference win since 1980 over the weekend, but to be prepared to practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.
“Since we won’t know our first round opponent until the seedings are announced next weekend,” noted Habich, “we won’t know who we will be playing and who we need to prepare for. So we’ll work on some basics next week.”
Senior Eli Suggs was credited for 2.5 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback sack to emerge as one of the defensive leaders. Asked by Blowing Rock News about the significance of the conference title and the undefeated season, Suggs replied, “We came so close the last two seasons, so this is special for us to finally get it done our senior year. Finishing the regular season undefeated likely means that we will get a fairly high seed in the playoffs, which means we’ll have some home games if we keep winning. The competition is going to get stiffer, so we need every advantage possible. Not very many teams are used to playing in the mountains in the wintertime.”
KEY TEAM STATS
- Total Offense: Watauga 448, West Caldwell 28
- Penalties: WHS 1-5, WC 5-25
- Interceptions Thrown: WHS 0, WC 1
- First Downs: WHS 26, WC 1
- Third Down Conversions: WHS 2-of-4, WC 0-of-9
- Fourth Down Conversions: 2-of-2, WC 0-1
- Jaiden Bond (WHS), 6 carries for 78 yards 1 TD
- Sebastian Best (WHS), 2 for 67 yards, 1 TD
- Bryce Satterfield (WHS), 7 for 61 yards
- Zach West, (WHS), 3 for 32 yards
- Anderson Castle (WHS), 4 for 41 yards, 2 TDs
- Anderson Castle (WHS), 7-of-12, 135 yards, 4 TDs