Pioneers face Patton Friday
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Things do not get much easier for the Pioneers on Friday when they play at Patton. The Panthers are 7-1 overall, 3-1 in the NWC.
Combined with Hibriten and Freedom, Watauga's last three opponents have an overall record of 22-2 overall, 11-1 in the conference.
Despite the difficulty of opponents, Watauga nearly beat Hibriten. The Pioneers trailed 45-31, but scored two touchdowns to pull to 45-44.
Watauga's two-point conversion attempt fell short when Aaron Dobbins' pass to Hunter Isaacs was incomplete.
One week earlier, the Pioneers lost to Freedom 41-34 in overtime.
"The last two weeks have been tough," Pioneers coach Ryan Habich said. "Our kids played with a lot of perseverance and were fighting through to the very end."
Watauga takes on a Patton team that was 2-9 last season, but has turned its fortunes around. The Panthers, who are new to the NWC this season, have won three straight, including a 28-0 win over St. Stephens and a 31-12 win over Fred T. Foard last Friday.
Patton's lone loss is a 47-10 disaster against Hickory.
Watauga's offense has scored at least 34 points in seven of its eight games. The Pioneers have scored at least 42 points in three of their last four games.
"The one thing we look at going into the season was we did not want to get blown out in conference," Habich said. "We want to make games competitive. We're not as strong as we physically need to be. We're going to get there, but I want us to compete."
Patton returns 14 starters -- seven on offense and seven on defense -- from last season. Tyriq Ervin is the Panthers' main threat running the football out of Patton. The Panthers also use quarterbacks Nick Conklin and Chase Carswell.