COVER IMAGE: With blockers in front, Watauga’s Jaiden Bond has a big gain in sight. All images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
Blowing Rock News coverage of Watauga High School men’s sports is made possible by a sponsorship from New River Building Supply & Lumber Company
Watauga’s gridiron Pioneers stuck to the ground Friday night at Hickory High School’s football stadium, but with a four-headed rushing attack that rolled up 537 yards of total offense.
Led by wingback Jaiden Bond’s 247 yards on 12 carries that produced three touchdowns and running back Bryce Satterfield’s 163 yards on 25 carries and two TDs, Watauga’s triple-option offense was nearly unstoppable in its machine-like precision. Quarterback Anderson Castle added 99 yards on 12 keepers, while wingback Zach West added two totes of the pigskin for 24 yards.
Watauga controlled possession for nearly three-quarters of the game to keep Hickory’s athletic offense off of the field. The Pioneers led in time of possession, 28:10 vs. 19:41 for the Red Tornadoes.
The Pioneers overcame adversity in the first half, gaining a 14-14 tie at intermission even after being assessed multiple penalties that even called back TD-scoring plays. It was almost as if the football gods were keeping the game close so that Hickory could enjoy its Homecoming festivities at halftime.
After Bond finished off a long Watauga drive that ended with the junior’s 35-yard scamper to paydirt in the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Pioneers surprised the Red Tornadoes with a 2-point conversion, catching the Hickory side napping to give the visitors an eight-point, 22-14 lead. Hickory responded with its own TD scoring drive that culminated with a 15-yard aerial from senior quarterback Bryce Stober to junior wide receiver Davis Amos, but a two-point conversion attempt failed and left the hosts at a 22-20 disadvantage.
Watauga’s time-consuming scoring machine tallied another TD, ending with a 6-yard keeper by Castle and a successful Kyran Densham PAT kick to put the visitors ahead, 29-20. The Pioneer defense stopped Hickory on the ensuing Red Tornado possession. The home team came away with three points thanks only to a 45-yard field goal by senior placekicker Harrison Boston with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
The 4th quarter belonged to Watauga and Bond. The junior wingback scored on near identical counter plays. Once the offensive line opened up holes for the speedster to scoot through and into the secondary, Hickory had no one to catch him.
Next on the agenda for the still undefeated Pioneers (7-0 overall, 3-0 in Northwestern Conference) is a visit to Jack Groce Stadium from last year’s spoiler, St. Stephens. The Wayne Hicks-coached Indians are 3-4 overall, 2-1 in conference. After a a 49-0 loss to Freedom in the Northwestern Conference opener, St. Stephens posted league wins over McDowell (40-36) and West Caldwell (55-7). The Pioneers and Indians have no common opponents so far in the season.