By David Rogers. November 30, 2018. BOONE, NC — In the battle of the two W’s at Jack Groce Stadium, visiting Weddington overpowered Watauga, 42-14, in front of one of the largest crowds of the year to watch a Pioneer football game.
The Pioneers posted “bookend” touchdowns — the first and last scores of the game — but in between the action on both sides of the ball mostly favored the Warriors.
Weddington’s running back Will Shipley proved why he has already received recruiting interest from Power 5 universities — even as just a sophomore. He carried the ball 18 times to roll up 166 yards of gridiron real estate, including three TDs, while senior running back Wayne Dixie toted the pigskin 20 times for 131 yards and a TD.
They ran it right at us.
Watauga received the opening kickoff and ate up a little shy of six minutes in grinding out a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard TD run by junior running back Bryce Satterfield.
Weddington’s offense promptly answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that took almost five more minutes off the game clock before Shipley sliced through the Watauga defense the final 10 yards for the Warriors’ first TD. It looked like football fans would be treated to an old fashioned, smash-mouth football shootout.
But the visiting Warriors made some adjustments and used its superior size and speed to effectively shut down Watauga’s offense for the rest of the game. And, as Watauga defensive coordinator pointed out later to Blowing Rock News, except for a late fumble that led to the Pioneers’ final TD Weddington played error-free football.
“They were flat out a very good football team,” Anderson said. “We knew they could throw it around and spread the field, but tonight they came in with the (best) game plan they could have. They ran it right at us. They took away all of the misdirection and their outside game. They threw just two passes all night.
We knew he was good from watching film. He is better in person than he is on video.
“They ran right at us,” Anderson continued, “and seemed to say, ‘Here we come Watauga. If you can stop us, great, but we are going to run it right down your throats.’ That’s exactly what they did and my hat is off to them.
“We had a heckuva a year,” Anderson continued. “We played outstanding on defense all year long. Tonight, we were in the same places we have been in all year. They were just better…That #9 kid (Shipley), he deserves all the looks (from Power 5 schools) he is getting. We knew he was good from watching film. He is even better in person than he is on video.
“Hey, these were two good football teams playing tonight,” Anderson concluded. “Weddington is just better than us. Credit to our guys though. They never quit and they wouldn’t quit if it was 70-0. Our guys worked hard all year…We talk about it all the time. If a team is going to come in here and beat us, make sure they are better. Make sure we can shake their hands after the game and be proud that we gave it our all. Tonight, our effort was there. Weddington just blocked us better. They ran through the holes hard. And they didn’t make any mistakes.”
In earlier season games, Watauga may have been out-manned, facing across the board superior athletes, but they were not outgunned in cruising to an undefeated, 13-0 season heading into Friday night’s game vs. Weddington. Without question, Habich and his coaching staff developed an outstanding football “product” in the form of his highly disciplined and what he describes as his “high character” roster of players. Some might say that combination allowed the Pioneers to over-achieve. Others would prefer to note that Watauga football reached its full potential before simply being both out-manned and outgunned in facing Weddington.
Except for that one fumble, they didn’t make any mistakes.
Even with the loss, Watauga had its moments. In fact, the Pioneers racked up a respectable 323 yards of total offense vs. Weddington’s 402. But as Habich explained to reporters later, there were several plays where Watauga lost yardage, “…and that hasn’t happened to us before,” said the Pioneers six-year head mentor.
“I am proud of our kids,” Habich said later in assessing the 2018 season. “We won 13 football games. So we go 13-1 and made the final four in the West (bracket of the state playoffs). We won a conference championship. This was one of those games where we knew that Weddington is a good football team. They are physical up front. They have a good defense and we had a hard time getting (their offense) off the field.
“We moved the ball pretty well at times,” Habich added, “but lost yardage at times. When you are playing a good football team like that you can’t be in so many situations where it is 3rd-and-long. Then it is hard (to get a first down) because of how athletic they are…It seemed like on offense they were getting 3rd-and-2 and we were more often 3rd-and-12.”
Habich pointed out that a lot of the Weddington players were very experienced in playing at a high level against good competition.
I call this group our Uncommon Seniors of 2018.
“A lot of those guys played on their state championship team in 2016,” he observed. “So we knew they were going to be good. We just missed key blocks that would keep our drives going. We knew it was going to be difficult to stop them, but we had to stay on schedule and score points ourselves. Usually we don’t have many plays where we lose yards, but tonight we lost yards on big plays.”
Habich was especially appreciative of this year’s senior class, for their leadership.
“One of the things we talk about to our student athletes is to leave the jersey in a better place,” Habich shared. “This senior class did that…You can’t say (enough) about this senior class. Not only are they good football players, but they are high character kids. There are no issues off the field with this football team. We always talk about reaching our full potential, while representing our team, our school and our community in a positive way. I call this group our uncommon seniors of 2018. They did a great job for us this year.”
- Q1 — Watauga: Bryce Satterfield 6 yard run for TD (PAT Kyran Densham is good)
- Q1 — Weddington: Will Shipley 10-yard run for TD (PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q2 — Weddington: Wayne Dixie 19-yard run for TD (PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q2 — Weddinton: Will Shipley 11-yard run for TD (PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q3 — Weddington: Will Shipley 2-yard run for TD (PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q3 — Weddington: Whitner Litton pass complete to Max Brimigion for 3-yard TD ( PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q4 — Weddington: Whitner Litton pass complete to Max Brimigion for 11-yard TD (PAT Ian Williams is good)
- Q4 — Watauga: Jaiden Bond 11-yard run for TD (PAT Kyran Densham is good)
SELECTED TEAM STATS
- Total Offense: WAT 322, WED 402
- Passing: WAT 74, WED 14
- Rushing: WAt 249, WED 388
- Penalties: WAT, 1 for 15 yards, WED 0
- Turnovers: WAT 1, WED 1
- Fumbles-Lost: WAT 1-0, WED 1-1
- Interceptions Thrown: WAT 1, WED, 0
- Time of Possession: WAT 26:52, WED 21:08
- First Downs: WAT 17, WED 23
- Third Down Conversions: WAT 4/10 (40%), WED 7/8 (87.5%)
- Fourth Down Conversions: WAT 1/5 (20%), WED 1/1 (100%)
SELECTED INDIVIDUAL STATS
- WED — Whitner Litton, 2-2, 14 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
- WAT — Anderson Castle, 5-8, 74 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
- WAT — Jackson Greene, 0-2, 0 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INt
- WED — Will Shipley, 18 carries, 166 yards, 3 TDs
- WED — Wayne Dixie, 20 carries, 131 yards, 1 TD
- WAT — Jaiden Bond, 7 carries, 105 yards, 1 TD
- WAT — Anderson Castle, 15 carries, 75 yards
- WAT — Bryce Satterfield, 16 carries, 74 yards, 1 TD
- WED — Kyle Parsons, 2 carries, 25 yards
- WED — James Shipley, 1 carry, 21 yards
- WAT — Grant Oliver, 2 receptions, 54 yards
- WAT — Jaiden Bond, 1 reception, 16 yards
- WED — Max Brimigion, 2 receptions, 14 yards, 2 TDs
SLIDESHOW By Brad Batchelor for Blowing Rock News
SLIDESHOW By Ashleigh Mock for Blowing Rock News