Pioneers host St. Stephens Friday
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The Indians have not had a winning season since 2008. They went 2-9 in 2010, 5-7 in 2011 and are 2-8 this season heading into their Northwestern Conference showdown at Watauga tonight.
Although the Indians (2-8, 1-4 NWC) have not won a lot of games, they are 3-0 against Watauga. St. Stephens beat the Pioneers 25-22 last season, 31-28 in 2010 and 16-13 in 2009.
Watauga goes into the game looking to secure a better standing in the state 4-A playoffs. A victory over St. Stephens could bring the Pioneers a higher seed in their playoff pod. A loss could send them out of town to a higher seeded opponent, or out of the playoffs completely.
But that’s all a matter of speculation. The current reality is Watauga has lost its last five games, and would like to end the regular season on a good note.
“We never like losing and it’s been one of the things we’ve struggled against lately,” Pioneers coach Tom Wright said. “I did feel like we played a good football game offensively against Hibriten. We struggled a bit stopping the big play and we struggled on special teams, but I felt it was an improved offensive game for us.”
Watauga (4-6, 1-4) may have found its quarterback of the future in freshman Aaron Dobbins, who made his starting debut in a 38-18 loss to Hibriten on Oct. 19. Dobbins completed 19-of-19 passes for 170 yards and a 32-yard touchdown to Hunter Isaacs in the first quarter.
Just as important, Dobbins did not throw any interceptions.
“I thought he played really well,” Wright said. “He’s a great young man and he’s got a great work ethic. He really is a student of the game. He understands football and that’s important for a quarterback.”
Watauga also welcomed back senior running back Collin Augustine from a broken collarbone injury. Augustine, a team captain, rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown in his first game back since he was injured the third week of the season against Avery.
Wright felt Augustine played better in the second half, which is when he gained the bulk of his yards.
Augustine gained 51 of his 58 yards on five carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run, on the Pioneers’ final scoring drive.
“I think getting Collin back was big, particularly in the second half,” Wright said. “He really shook off the rust and started playing much better for us.”
The Pioneers face a St. Stephens team that started off poorly, but won two straight games before losing 10-0 to Hickory last week. St. Stephens was outscored 285-17 in its first seven games, but did an about-face with a 20-10 victory over North Buncombe and a 35-13 win over Foard.
The Indians like to run the football as much as possible. They are led by running back, Marvin Sutton, who rushed for 221 yards in their win over North Buncombe.