Hibriten provides Pioneers tough test
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga takes on Northwestern Conference rival Hibriten at 7:30 tonight looking to break a four-game losing streak, and to upset a Panthers team smarting from a loss to Hickory one week earlier.
Hibriten (5-4, 2-2 NWC), which runs the spread offense, uses up to 10 running backs in its rotation. The Panthers gained 285 yards in a 43-0 win win over St. Stephens.
Hibriten showed its offense could be explosive two weeks ago in a 49-14 home victory over Foard. But the Panthers lost 21-13 to Hickory, but likely cost Hibriten the league’s top 3-A playoff seed.
Hibriten also put up a good fight against undefeated South Caldwell, but lost to the visiting Spartans 36-20 on Sept. 14.
Watauga (4-5, 1-3) needs to win at least one of its final two games to have a good chance at a wildcard berth into the state 4-A playoffs. The Pioneers host St. Stephens, which is 2-7, 1-3, going into its game at Hickory.
“That’s something that we’ve talked a lot about,” Pioneers coach Tom Wright said. “We’d love to go 2-0 in these last two, but we definitely need to win at least one of these last two.”
Watauga was officially eliminated from earning the No. 2 state 4-A seed last week with its 55-14 homecoming loss to 4-A NWC rival South Caldwell. The Spartans’ standout running back Zac Pollard gained 154 yards by the second quarter and did not return to the game, which left him with 2,061 yards rushing this season.
South used 11 running backs who rolled up 607 yards rushing.
“They really are a good football team,” Wright said. “The running back Zac Pollard was faster than I thought he was. He was faster in person than on film, and their offensive and defensive lines were big, strong and fast.”
If there was a bright spot in that game, it was the two touchdowns Nick Williams scored in the second half. Williams’ first touchdown run went for four yards that capped a 60-yard drive.
His second touchdown was a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Wright opened up the competition for starting quarterback during the week in practice. Jay Harrill, filling in for starter Tripp Taylor who is out for the season with a broken jaw, was the Pioneers’ starter the last two games.
Harrill bruised his ribs in a loss to Alexander Central in his first start, and reinjured his ribs in the second quarter against South Caldwell.
Aaron Dobbins, the junior varsity quarterback, took over the offense in both games. Dobbins, after having a successful season with the jayvees, is up with the varsity full-time.
Wright praised Dobbins’ competitive attitude and work ethic. He said the decision on who starts will be made tonight.
“He works hard at everything he does,” Wright said, of the freshman. “Jay does the same thing. They both competed very well this week and it’s going to be a