By Nathan Ham
The Watauga Pioneers are one step closer to an unbeaten regular season after a 49-7 victory over St. Stephens at home on Friday night.
Watauga is now 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference.
Junior quarterback Anderson Castle had his best game since returning from injury, completing 4-of-5 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while running for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Jaiden Bond added four carries for 78 yards, Bryce Satterfield had nine carries for 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Jackson Greene had two carries for 22 yards and Zach West had one carry for four yards.
Eli Suggs and Grant Oliver both had big touchdown scoring plays. Suggs’ TD catch went for 58 yards and Oliver’s TD catch went for 56 yards. Greene added one catch for 36 yards, Bond had one catch for seven yards and Jake Watson had one catch for seven yards.
Defensively, Suggs had a big game with 18 tackles to lead the Pioneers. Watson had 11 tackles, Ben Critcher had 10 tackles, Greene finished with six tackles, Bond had six tackles and Sam Sappington had six tackles.
St. Stephens running back Xavian King led all players with 155 yards on 31 carries. Matthew Hancock added 58 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Through the air, Connor Williams completed 7-of-17 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Zach Lee caught six passes for 79 yards and a score.
Watauga had 422 yards of total offense.
The Pioneers will look to remain unbeaten when they travel to McDowell this Friday.
In neighboring West Jefferson, the Huskies celebrated Homecoming in a big way with a 49-20 victory over rival Wilkes Central.
The Huskies have now won five games in a row and are 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference. Ashe is the only team left without a conference loss.
Senior quarterback Luke Hudler completed 13-of-21 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver Austin Poe caught three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Corbin Coldiron led the team in catches with five that went for 66 yards and a touchdown. Branson Shepherd had three catches for 74 yards, Timothy Peterson had one catch for two yards and Dylan Hutchens had one catch that went for a two-yard touchdown.
Peterson kept the Husky ground attack rolling for yet another week, this time piling up 152 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Hutchens added five rushing yards and a touchdown.
Overall, the Huskies had 392 yards of total offense.
Ashe will travel to East Wilkes (6-2, 3-1) this Friday.
Unfortunately for Avery County, the results were not quite as positive for the Vikings. Polk County racked up 588 yards of total offense on the way to a 59-27 win over Avery County.
Polk’s senior quarterback Avery Edwards passed for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added 44 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Mitchell Yoder carried the ball 15 times for 221 yards and two touchdowns, Lukas Tipton had 61 yards on six carries, Cameron Blackwell ran for 34 yards and a touchdown on one seven carries and Steven Chupp added 10 yards and a touchdown on two carries.
Yoder added a 48-yard touchdown reception and Ryan Heider had four catches for 78 yards and a score.
For the Vikings, Troy Hoilman completed 21-of-39 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Sam McCollum had five catches for 99 yards and a score while also running for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Lucas Andrews had one catch for 29 yards and a touchdown and added 47 rushing yards. Tyree Jackson had five catches for 19 yards, Eli Hayes had four grabs for 44 yards and a score, Jesse Jones had three receptions for 56 yards, Jonas Bowman had two catches for 40 yards and Taha Naveed had one catch for 12 yards.
The Vikings are now 2-6 overall and 1-1 in the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference. Avery will travel to Charles D. Owen (2-5, 1-1) this week.