By Nathan Ham
Two High Country teams took care of business in their respective first round playoff games on Friday night. 3AA West top seed Watauga overpowered 16th-seeded Ashbrook, 49-0, and 2AA West fourth seed Ashe County had no problem with Salisbury, beating the Hornets 49-14.
Watauga built a 21-0 halftime lead and blew the game wide open in the third quarter, piling on three more touchdowns and adding one final score in the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers tallied 445 yards of total offense with 378 of those yards coming on the ground.
Quarterback Anderson Castle completed 2-of-4 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The junior QB also carried the ball nine times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Castle’s touchdown pass went to Grant Oliver on a 26-yard score.
Bryce Satterfield led the Watauga ground attack with 10 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Zach West had three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown and Ben Critcher added one carry for an eight-yard touchdown. Junior Jaiden Bond had 28 rushing yards on three carries and one catch for 41 yards.
Watauga (12-0) will be playing at home again on Friday with #8 Parkland (11-1) coming to town. Parkland defeated #9 Asheville, 32-19. Parkland’s only loss this year came at Mount Tabor in the final week of the regular season, 49-7. The win clinched the conference title for Mount Tabor with both teams entering that game unbeaten in the Piedmont Triad 3A Conference.
In West Jefferson, Ashe left no doubt early on, building a 40-0 halftime lead to advance to the second round in the 2AA West bracket, 49-14.
The Huskies piled up 496 yards of total offense with 248 yards passing and 248 yards rushing.
Senior quarterback Luke Hudler completed 12-of-18 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns.
On the ground, sophomore running back Timothy Peterson ran for 211 yards on 16 carries. Alex Lacroix had 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, Dylan Hutchens had four carries for six yards and Ryan Blevins had one carry for a three-yard touchdown.
Branson Shepherd was Ashe’s leading receiver with four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Austin Poe had four grabs for 72 yards and two touchdowns, Corbin Coldiron had two catches for 51 yards, Kai Christoferson had one catch for 28 yards and a touchdown and Johnathan Reyna had one catch for a 14-yard touchdown.
Ashe (10-2) will travel to #4 Shelby (9-3) on Friday night. Shelby defeated West Lincoln in the first round, 27-8. Shelby quarterback Isaiah Bess completed 19-of-32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns and Dashuan Christopher returned an interception for a touchdown in the victory.
3AA West bracket
#8 Parkland (11-1) at #1 Watauga (12-0)
#5 Weddington (11-1) at #4 South Iredell (7-5)
#6 Erwin (10-1) at #3 Mount Tabor (8-4)
#10 Sun Valley (10-2) at #2 A.C. Reynolds (11-1)
2AA West bracket
#16 East Lincoln (6-6) at #8 North Lincoln (9-3)
#4 Ashe County (10-2) at #4 Shelby (9-3)
#6 West Stokes (11-1) at #3 Bandys (11-1)
#10 South Point (9-3) at #2 Hibriten (12-0)