By David Rogers. October 25,2019. BOONE, NC — Continuing to roll across the Northwestern Conference competitive landscape, Watauga’s most recent victim at Jack Groce Stadium was McDowell, 62-14, on a rain-soaked Senior Night.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cover image is a file photo from a previous game. David Rogers is in California and covered the game while listening to Mike Kelly and Mark Shook’s play-by-play on WATA-AM, streamed over the world wide Web on GoBlueRidge.com
The win sets up what amounts to a regular season thriller with a lot on the line next weekend in Morganton, when the Pioneers invade Freedom High School to challenge the Patriots.
Seven “chunk plays” for TDs were the story of the night, highlighted by an 88-yard run by senior wingback Jaiden Bond to put the Pioneers in the driver’s seat, 20-0, midway through the second quarter. Junior wingback Sebastian Best accounted for the final two scores of the evening in mop up time, but nonetheless impressive runs of 56- and 52-yard runs to paydirt.
At the heart of it all, though, was the performance of senior quarterback Anderson Castle, who led the Pioneers to 649 yards of total offense. Named to the Shrine Game of the Carolinas earlier in the day, Castle celebrated by completing 11-of-11 passes for 227 yards and 3 TDs (no interceptions) and rushing the ball on keepers for 121 yards on nine carries and one TD.
Watauga only scored once in the first quarter, a 3-yard punch by Bond, but then the Pioneers exploded for 27 points in the second quarter to take a 34-7 lead into intermission.
The Pioneers’ offense was highly efficient in that Watauga’s time of possession was a mere 13:38 while scoring those 62 points, all by the offense. Both teams did a good job of protecting the football. The only turnover in the game was a fumble by McDowell on the first play of the second quarter, alertly recovered by Watauga’s senior defensive back Grant Oliver.
That Castle was selected for the Shrine Bowl comes as no surprise since his performance at the Asheville combine was as good or better than almost all of the other contenders at quarterback. His versatility — experience at defensive back — makes him especially valuable to an all-star team that might otherwise lack depth at various positions.
Friday night’s win clinches at least a share of the Northwestern Conference championship and puts the Pioneers in the proverbial driver’s seat. They control their own destiny. A win over Freedom clinches sole ownership of the NWC championship title. A loss to Freedom (6-3 overall, 3-1 in NWC) would drop the Pioneers into a tie with the Patriots.
Hickory (3-6 overall, 3-1 NWC) has not yet been mathematically eliminated from a share of the title, either. If the Red Tornadoes win out vs. Alexander Central at home on Nov. 1 and at St. Stephens on Nov. 8th and Freedom defeats Watauga, the three would finish in a 3-way tie (assuming Freedom also wins vs. McDowell on Nov. 8th). Watauga has a bye on Nov. 8th.
BLOWING ROCK NEWSHOUND “Players of the Game”
- Offense: Anderson Castle
- Defense: Jake Watson
- Special Teams: Sebastian Best
SELECTED TEAM STATS
- Total Offense — WAT 649, MCD 245
- Rushing Yards — WAT 422, MCD 145
- Passing Yards — WAT 227, MCD 100
- Penalties — WAT 2-30, MCD 3-30
- Fumbles-Lost: WAT 0-0, MCD 1-1
- Interceptions Thrown: WAT 0, MCD 0
- Time of Possession — WAT 13:38, MCD 34:22
- 3rd Down Conversions — WAT 1/2 (50%), MCD 5/12 (42%)
- 4th Down Conversions — WAT 0/0, MCD 0/0
SELECTED INDIVIDUAL STATS
- WAT — Anderson Castle 11-11-227, 3 TDs
- MCD — Riley Moore 7-13-100, 2 TDs
- WAT — Jaiden Bond 6-143, 2 TDs
- WAT — Anderson Castle 9-121, 1 TD
- WAT — Sebastian Best 4-114, 2 TDs
- MCD — Quantavian Moore 16-64
- MCD — Richard Handy 11-56
- MCD — Jacob Pearson 10-43
- WAT — Joe Penley 1-26
- WAT — Jake Watson 4-18, 1 TD
- WAT — Jaiden Bond 3-113, 1 TD
- WAT — Grant Oliver 3-57
- MCD — Richard Handy 5-42, 1 TD
- MCD — Preston Dennison 1-38
- WAT — Jake Watson 2-21, 2 TDs
- WAT — Mitchell Greene 2-20
- MCD — Quantavian Moore 1-20, 1 TD
- WAT — Sebastian Best 1-16
Game statistics compiled by Jonathan Watson of Watauga High School