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Football Roundup: Watauga Finishes Unbeaten Regular Season, Ashe Wins Conference Championship, Avery Drops Final Regular Season Game

By Nathan Ham

The Watauga Pioneers and Ashe County Huskies will head into the playoffs on a high note with both capturing their respective conference championships on Friday night.

Watauga finished off a perfect regular season with a 62-0 win over West Caldwell. The Pioneers will enter the playoffs with an 11-0 record. They finished the Northwestern 3A/4A season with a 7-0 record.

It has been a historical season for the Pioneers. This is the their first conference title since 2007 and the first outright conference title since 1980. This is also their first unbeaten regular season since the Pioneers went on to win the 3A state championship in 1978. That season, Watauga finished 13-0-1.

The game was never in doubt early on as Watauga built a 49-0 lead by the halftime break.

Anderson Castle ran for two touchdowns and passed for four others, Jaiden Bond, Ben Critcher and Seb Best each added touchdown runs in the victory.

Over in West Jefferson, Ashe County won their first outright conference championship in school history, beating Starmount 37-13.

Ashe had previously shared the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference Championship in 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2014.

Luke Hudler completed 20-of-32 passes for 265 yards and four touchdowns.

Sophomore tailback Timothy Peterson carried the ball 16 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Hutchens added 70 rushing yards on 11 carries and Alex Lacroix had nine carries for 38 yards.

Austin Poe led the Huskies with seven receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. Branson Shepherd had seven catches for 61 yards and a score, Peterson finished with two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown and Lacroix added two catches for seven yards. Corbin Coldiron finished with a 15-yard touchdown reception and Kai Christoferson had one catch that went for 29 yards.

Avery County suffered a 64-7 loss at Mountain Heritage on Friday night.

Cougars’ quarterback Callin Randolph passed for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Autrey ran for 76 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Bryce Miller added a seven-yard touchdown carry and London Neill had four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. Cole Shehan caught two passes for 109 yards, one of them a 75-yard touchdown and the other a 34-yard touchdown.

Avery quarterback Troy Hoilman completed 11-of-25 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Sam McCollum finished up his storied Avery County career with 17 carries for 84 yards and five catches for 29 yards in what is likely his final game. Eli Hayes had two catches for 16 yards and a touchdown, Tyree Jackson had two catches for seven yards, Jonas Bowman had one catch for 20 yards and Jesse Jones had one catch for 10 yards.

The Vikings finished the regular season 2-9 overall and 1-4 in the Western Highlands 1A/2A Conference.

The regular season was extended one week to allow teams in the eastern part of the state to finish up their regular seasons after Hurricane Florence battered the coast and forced several game cancellations. Playoff brackets will be released this coming weekend.

According to HighSchoolOT.com, the most recent playoff projections have Watauga receiving the #1 overall seed in the 3AA West and Ashe County receiving the #5 overall seed in the 2AA West. Avery County is currently projected to miss the playoffs.