Dobbins play well in first start
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
After appearing in mop-up roles for three straight weeks, Watauga freshman Aaron Dobbins made his debut last Friday at quarterback at Hibriten. The only other playing experience Dobbins had was finishing games at Elizabethton, Tenn., Alexander Central and South Caldwell before getting his first start at Hibriten.
Dobbins’ numbers were solid. He completed 19-of-29 passes for 170 yards and a 32-yard touchdown to Hunter Isaacs that tied the game 7-7 with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
“It was open, I did my route right, and Aaron threw a good ball,” Isaacs said. “I had to go back for it a little bit, but I caught the ball and just scored.”
Dobbins played well on the junior varsity before earning his promotion to the varsity. He led the junior Pioneers to a 7-0 record, which included a season-opening 54-46 victory over A.C. Reynolds, which was one of the jayvee team’s biggest victories in over a decade.
Playing on the varsity level is much different. Defenses are bigger, faster and smarter than on the varsity level. Dobbins found that out the hard way in his initial debut against Elizabethton (Tenn.) when, subbing for Jay Harrill, his first pass was intercepted.
“The speed of the game is faster on varsity,” Dobbins said. “Their bigger, but I felt more comfortable out there tonight.”
He eventually started finding people wearing the same colored jersey to catch his passes. After completing just 1-of-3 passes for one yard in a loss to Alexander Central, in a game that saw Harrill, Tripp Taylor and Dobbins play, he completed just 2-of-8 passes in a 55-15 loss to South Caldwell on Oct. 12.
One of his completions was a 45-yarder to Baker. Dobbins has also not tossed an interception since the Elizabethton game.
“After that first touchdown, my confidence went up a lot,” Dobbins said. “I started feeling better. Hunter just got behind the linebacker there and I just tossed it to him.”
Dobbins led two other scoring drives in the game. The Pioneers got a 22-yard field goal from Stephen Shirley as time ran out in the first half after Watauga drove 47 yards in six plays with two timeouts with 39.7.
It started with back-to-back completions to DeWayne Mackey for six yards and to Cameron Baker for 12. Dobbins spiked the ball to stop the clock at 19.1 seconds, and then benefitted from a pass interference call on his deep pass to Baker.
Dobbins completed his next pass, a 14-yarder to Mackey, which gave the Pioneers a first down at the Hibriten 5-yard line. Another spike stopped the clock so that Shirley could get on the field in time to make his field goal.
“We were moving the ball pretty good,” Dobbins said. “We had DeWayne crossing the field before the field goal right before halftime.”
“I thought he did a really nice job on that 30-second drive to get the field goal in the first half,” Wright said. “I thought he managed the clock well and I thought the whole team did.”
The return of senior running back Collin Augustine from a broken collarbone suffered against Avery in the third week of the season gave the Pioneers a lift in their final scoring drive. The Pioneers marched 71 yards in nine plays on a drive capped by Augustine’s 8-yard TD run.
Dobbins got the drive started with an 8-yard pass to Mackey, and then a 7-yarder to Mackey that gave the Pioneers a first down at the Hibriten 42.
From there, Augustine cranked out runs of 11, 6 and 17 yards before scoring a touchdown. Mackey added the ensuing two-point conversion to pull Watauga to 38-18.
“He was running pretty hard his first game back,” Dobbins said. “I think he was excited to be back and he was running pretty good.”
Augustine is convinced Dobbins can play on the varsity level. Both players have at least one more game Friday at St. Stephens.
A win could get the Pioneers an at-large bid into the state 4-A playoffs.