Watauga varsity football team takes on Rockets
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Wright takes his Pioneers to Asheville tonight for a 7:30 showdown against a solid A.C. Reynolds team that returns 10 of its defensive starters from a group that held Watauga to minus three yards rushing.
“They’re a very good football team,” Wright said. “They were inexperienced last year, but they brought back a lot of seniors this year, and I believe they return every starter on defense.”
The Rockets, who reached the state 4-A playoffs for the seventh straight season, finished 6-5 last year. They return standout linebacker Justin St. Onge, a four-year varsity starter and Reynolds’ lone all-conference player.
He led a defense last year that carried the Rockets to a 21-14 win over Watauga in the team’s season opener. Watauga attempted 28 rushing attempts, but struggled moving the football on the ground.
Instead, Pioneers’ quarterback Ethan Greene completed 21-of-31 passes for 272 yards with no interceptions. But Greene was a senior last year and graduated.
Tripp Taylor, Greene’s backup last year, takes over the offense. In Watauga’s two scrimmages, Pioneers’ running back Collin Augustine has provided most of the offense.
Augustine also plays linebacker on Watauga’s defense, but will be counted on to find a way to solve the Rockets’ defense. He gained 118 yards on just 18 carries last season.
“They’ve got a good defensive ball team,” Wright said. “It’s going to be a real challenge for our offensive line to block these guys. They play a 3-4 and they blitz from everywhere. They’re always sending at least one linebacker. Sometimes they send two. You have to do some things to slow them down.”
Offensively, the Rockets return Levi Ledford, who threw for 978 yards and six touchdown last season before breaking his ankle. In a scrimmage against South Caldwell this season, Ledford completed 13-of-18 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rockets threw for 381 yards but ran for just 43 with three fumbles against South Caldwell. This season, Reynolds’ top running back is Jave Jones, who was moved to the position from receiver.
“They took their best receiver from last year and moved him to running back,” Wright said. “The quarterback’s got a year experience under his belt. They’re a strong football team.”
Watauga has three home games following their game at A.C. Reynolds. Ashe County invades Jack Groce Stadium next week, followed by Avery and West Caldwell.