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Originally published: 2013-11-19 23:32:26
Last modified: 2013-11-19 23:33:33

Watauga heads into offseason

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Watauga's 2013 season ended on Nov. 15 when the Pioneers fell to Porter Ridge 32-26 in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs.
The 2014 season begins in January.
Technically, the first game of 2014 is in August. Practices may start in the final week of July, or the first week in August.
The offseason conditioning program begins when the returning players come back from winter break in January.
"We give the kids off until Christmas," Pioneers coach Ryan Habich said. "When the kids get back from Christmas Break, that's when we're really going to implement it and get the strength and size we need to compete and I think we can do that."
Habich, who led the Pioneers to an 8-4 record in 2013, wants to give his players some time off after a 12-game long season.
"Right now, we just have time shares in the weight room," Habich said. "I told the kids that we have to buy rent and we have to buy land in the weight room. We've got to start working out in the weight room. Most teams that we played were bigger and stronger than us. When you get pushed around, there's nothing you can do about it."
Watauga had to use other methods, such as schemes and execution, especially on offense, to play against teams that had more depth and size than themselves. They also used some trickery, such as onside kicks, option passes and fake punts to catch opponents off-guard.
The Pioneers also used effort to stay, and eventually win, football games.
"We weren't as strong as some teams, but our kids played with a lot of heart, and that's why I think we were in a lot of games," Habich said. "Even the Hickory game, we weren't blown out. We could have cut it to a one-score game. That was one of our goals at the start of the season -- not to get blown out."
That game, a 42-27 loss to the Red Tornadoes, was the only setback Watauga suffered that was by more than two scores. Northwestern Conference champion Freedom needed an overtime period to beat Watauga 41-34, and league runner-up Hibriten snuck out of Jack Groce Stadium with a 45-44 win after Watauga just missed on converting a two-point conversion that would have won the game.
Watauga's offense, which averaged 34.4 points per game in 2013, relied on simple execution to score points. The Pioneers were held under 20 points just once -- a 13-7 overtime win over Ashe in the second week of the season.
Watauga scored more than 30 points seven times and more than 40 points five times. The Pioneers' claimed a  57-36 win over Avery in week three.