Pioneers take on tough Porter Ridge
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga will play at Porter Ridge in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs Friday night.
Porter Ridge (9-1) is located in Union County close to the Mecklenburg County line. Watauga’s baseball team lost 1-0 to Porter Ridge in the 2010 playoffs.
Watauga’s football team finished 5-6 overall this season, but the loss to Elizabethton (Tenn.) is not recognized by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Porter Ridge finished in a three-way tie for the Southern Carolina Conference championship with Weddington and Sun Valley. The Pirates are coached by Blair Hardin, who has an overall record of 46-19 in five years at Porter Ridge.
The Pirates average 35 points and 370 yards offensively per game. Chris Duffy leads the team in rushing with 1,122 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Jerrick Robins has 712 rushing yards. The Pirates have scored 33 rushing touchdowns this season.
Porter Ridge uses two quarterbacks. Nick Vagnone has thrown for 714 yards and nine touchdowns, while Zach Danielson has thrown for 447 yards and five touchdowns.
Porter Ridge is also a plus 21 turnover ratio.
Watauga lost six straight before beating St. Stephens 43-29 Friday night. Watauga claimed a 29-0 lead in the first quarter, held on while St. Stephens rallied, then added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Several key Watauga players did not play big roles in those six losses, but returned to play big roles in the victory over St. Stephens. Quarterback Aaron Dobbins, who mopped up in three losses, got his first start in a 38-19 loss to Hibriten on Oct. 19.
Dobbins got his second start against St. Stephens and completed 11-of-13 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. On the receiving end of those passes was Cameron Baker, who missed some games with a sprained thumb.
Watauga also welcomed back Collin Augustine, who rushed for 88 yards on 15 carries against St. Stephens. He missed six games because of a broken collarbone.
Augustine returned to the lineup against Hibriten, but did not play defense. He scored a touchdown against Hibriten, and scored two against St. Stephens.
South Caldwell (11-0) grabbed the top seed in the West pod and the West Region. The Spartans host No. 16 regional seed Hopewell (4-6). Alexander Central (5-5), seeded sixth in the West pod and 10th in the regional, plays at third seed A.C. Reyonlds (8-2). The winner of that game takes on the winner of Watauga’s game.
In the 3-A West Regional, Hibriten (7-3) gets a rematch with Hickory (7-3). Hickory is seeded third in the regional and the West pod, while Hibriten is sixth in the pod, seventh in the regional.
Hickory beat Hibriten 21-13 on Oct. 12 in the regular season. St. Stephens and Fred T. Foard did not make the playoffs.