By David Rogers. November 23, 2018. BOONE, NC – If Watauga head football coach Ryan Habich were a card shark, rest assured he has some aces up his sleeve. After spotting Parkland 14 points in the first quarter on a frigid night at Jack Groce Stadium, #1 seeded Watauga rallied back to win going away, 49-26, and advance to the third round of the North Carolina 3AA Football Championship tournament.
COVER IMAGE: Zach West makes a diving, one-handed catch on the Parkland 3-yard line to set up a Watauga TD in the 4th quarter. All photographic images by Dave Mayo for Blowing Rock News
At least on this night, the “Ace of Spades” was Pioneer junior running back Bryce Satterfield, who sliced, diced, bulled and outsprinted the Mustangs for a whopping 322 yards rushing on 26 carries – and in the process tied a school record for most touchdowns in a game – six – initially set by Eric Breitenstein and tied a few years later by T J Poulos. Satterfield’s six rushes into paydirt included double digit TD runs of 13, 38, 97, and 53 yards.
The “Ace of Diamonds” was wide receiver Zach West, who made two spectacular catches to extend drives, including a brilliant diving, one-handed grab of a slightly overthrown pass that covered 25 yards as sleet had begun to fall on the football field. An appreciative crowd of Pioneer fans in the grandstand roared in approval as two plays later Satterfield busted through the line from the one-yard line to extend Watauga’s lead to 35-26. To win, the Mustangs would need at least two scores and only 9:06 remained in the game.
The “Ace of Hearts” was an inspired performance by Watauga’s defense. Many of the Pioneers’ charged with protecting the WHS goal line were also playing on offense and special teams, while Parkland had enough playmakers on their roster that at least some of them were not playing both ways. After giving up 14 points to the Mustangs in the first quarter, the defense made the necessary adjustments – with appropriate credit given to defensive coordinator Klay Anderson and the other coaching assistants – to often swarm and contain Parkland’s high powered offense.
The “Ace of Clubs” was the gritty play of Watauga’s offensive line. Parkland often had as many as 11 defenders “in the box” protecting against the Pioneer running attack. The Mustangs’ speed on the outside made it difficult for Watauga’s playmakers to attack the perimeter, so Habich gave instructions to attack the middle with “dive” plays. The Pioneer linemen executed their blocking schemes to perfection, opening holes for Satterfield, as well as for wingback Jaiden Bond, who blasted through one of those holes on the right side and scampered 55 yards to a TD in the fourth quarter to finish Watauga’s scoring for the night.
Parkland was arguably the biggest and definitely the most athletic team across the board that the Pioneers have faced during its 2018 season. As the game unfolded in the first quarter, it looked like Watauga had met its match. Although the Pioneers were riding a 12-game winning streak and were undefeated, on its first two offensive possessions the Mustangs seemed almost unstoppable.
The Mustangs’ first possession was a methodical, 15-play drive that covered 80 yards and kept Watauga’s offense off the field for almost seven minutes. With a balanced mix of runs and passes, Parkland ripped off big chunks of gridiron real estate. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the visitors’ senior running back, the Syracuse University-bound Lee Kpogba, would punch the ball into the end zone from the 2-yard line for the game’s first score.
Things started looking grim for Watauga when the stout Parkland defense held them to a three-and-out and the Pioneers were forced to punt, giving the ball back to the Mustangs with good field position on their own 40-yard line for the next possession. This time they went 60 yards in nine plays, but the result was the same when running back Jacquez Roseboro took the ball into the end zone from four yards out to give the visitors from Winston Salem a 14-0 lead with six seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But with the start of the new quarter, Watauga seemed to find itself. Satterfield carried the ball seven times during the ensuing 11-play, 77-yard drive that culminated with the junior RB’s slashing through the middle from four yards out.
A defensive stand gave the ball back to Watauga at their own 40. On the first play, junior quarterback Anderson Castle slithered through the Mustang defense for 25 yards. Then, after chunks of real estate picked up on consecutive runs by Satterfield, Castle and West, the son of App State head coach Scott Satterfield and former women’s track star Beth Satterfield finished off the 5-play possession for the final 13-yards to the end zone.
Afterwards, Habich was effusive in praising Parkland as a good football team, with playmakers aplenty not only in Syracuse-bound Kpogba, but also in senior running back Jacquez Roseboro, sophomore receiver Jaylin Elliott, and sophomore quarterback Camian Shell. Even though still an underclassman, Shell showed a lot of poise under pressure, escaped some difficult situations with good runs and, as Habich described him later, “…has a cannon for an arm.”
With the win, Watauga advances to the third round of the state playoffs, West bracket semifinal matchup against Charlotte area powerhouse, Weddington. As of November 19th, MaxPreps had the Warriors ranked as the top-ranked team at North Carolina’s 3A level, and No. 5 in the state at any level. Although undefeated, Watauga was ranked as the eighth best team at the 3A level, and #18 among all teams in the state of North Carolina. The rankings consider strength of schedule, and the Pioneers have benefited from what many consider to be a less competitive Northwestern Conference, which Watauga dominated during regular season play.
Like Watauga, Weddington dominated the Southern Carolina 3A conference except for being shut out by eventual league champ, Charlotte Catholic, 20-0. While Weddington finished second to Catholic in conference play, MaxPreps has the Warriors ranked #1 in the state at the 3A level and the Cougars at #2. Although Charlotte Catholic’s lone loss in 2018 was the season opener to Charlotte Christian, 6-0, now the #2 ranked team in the state, the rest of Catholic’s schedule was slightly weaker than Weddington’s, according to MaxPreps.
Habich described Weddington as big, fast, athletic and very well coached. As well as his Pioneers played against Parkland, “We have some things we need to improve on to compete against Weddington,” Habich noted in a post-game interview.
Blowing Rock News Offensive Player of the Game: Bryce Satterfield
Blowing Rock News Defensive Player of the Game: Jackson Greene
SELECTED TEAM STATISTICS
- Total Offense — PRK 446, WAT 513
- Passing — PRK 221, WAT 50
- Completions/Attempts — PRK 16-27, WAT 2-`5
- Touchdowns/Interceptions — PRK 2-0, WAT 0-1
- Rushing — PRK 225, WAT 463
- Penalties/Yards Penalized — PRK 12-70, WAT 1-15
- Fumbles/Lost — PRK 0-0, WAT 0-0
- Interceptions Thrown — PRK 0, WAT 1
- Time of Possession — PRK 28:33, WAT 19:27
- Third Down Conversions — PRK 6-of-13, WAT 2-of-5
- Fourth Down Conversions — 5-of-7, WAT 1-of-1
SELECTED INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
- PRK — Camian Shell: 16 of 27, 221 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
- WAT — Anderson Castle: 2-of-5, 50 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
- WAT — Bryce Satterfield: 26 carries, 322 yards, 6 TDs
- PRK — Jacquez Roseboro: 20 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD
- PRK — Lee Kpogba: 10 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD
- WAT — Jaiden Bond: 2 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD
- WAT — Anderson Castle: 8 carries, 56 yards
- PRK — Camian Shell: 8 carries, 30 yards
- WAT — Zach West: 2 carries, 8 yards
- PRK — Jaylin Elliott: 6 catches, 142 yards, 2 TDs
- WAT — Zach West: 2 catches, 50 yards
- PRK — Markell Lloyd: 3 catches, 27 yards
- PRK — Savien Hayes: 4 catches, 26 yards
- PRK — Joseph Harrison: 3 catches, 26 yards
SELECTED WATAUGA DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
- Eli Suggs — 13 tackles (6 solo)
- Ben Critcher — 10 tackles (3 solo), 0.5 tackle for loss
- Jackson Greene — 7 tackles (7 solo)
- Braeden Myers — 5.5 tackles (3 solo)
- Grant Oliver — 4.5 tackles (4 solo)
Offensive Player of the Game: Bryce Satterfield
Defensive Player of the Game: Grant Oliver