It hasn't taken Mark Smith very long to sell his ideas to the Watauga Middle School football team. Smith, a ball of energy, made his head-coaching debut Wednesday night, and the results were astounding.
The Wolverines (1-0) blasted Avery 41-6 at Hardin Park School in their season opener. Parker Morgan set the stage as he scored Watauga's first touchdown on a 55-yard run. He also forced a fumble on the ensuing kick-off that set up another score.
"The kids played with a lot of enthusiam tonight," said Smith, who also took the ice bucket challenge to fight ALS following the game. "The kids had a lot of fun. It was a great night. We had a great crowd, and everything just went our way tonight."
The Wolverines forced six turnovers, including two on special teams. Kyran Densham was 6-7 on extra points; Luke Robbins scored on a 60-yard run; Ben Critcher scored a touchdown; Braeden Myers, Jaiden Bond stood out defensively for the Wolverines; Jack Plyler, Eli Bentley, and Adrion Cassidy each had a quarterback sack.
The Wolverines led 28-0 at halftime. Watauga travels to West Alexander next Wednesday.
"It was a nice way to start our season," Smith said. "But like I told the kids after the game, 'enjoy this one until (Thursday), then, we go back to work.'"
PIONEERS BOUNCE BACK BIG
The Watauga High boys' soccer team took its frustrations out on Alexander Central Wednesday night. The Pioneers (2-2), who suffered a 4-0 loss at Asheville-Reynolds Monday night, knocked off the Cougars 4-0 in a non-conference game at Jack Groce Stadium.
Chase Palm got things rolling with a goal at the ten-minute mark of the first half. Zack Valet, who was injured in WHS' season opener at Ashe County on August 18, picked up an assist on the play. Tucker Chasteen scored one minute later, thanks to an assist by Alex Mancini for a 2-0 lead.
"We just didn't play very well the other night," said WHS coach Woody McKay. "We broke down in the second half. Chase got us going tonight, and the rest of the guys just followed."
Powell Glidewell scored at the 24-minute mark of the first half from 35-yards out, giving WHS a commanding 3-0 halftime lead. Nick Kellner finished things off with a goal at the 60-minute mark of the second half. Raheim Andrew picked up his third assist of the season on Kellner's goal.
"Raheim is one of the hardest workers on our team," McKay said. "We've scored nine goals this season, and he has a third of the assists. He's our fastest player."
The Pioneers travel to Lake Norman (3-1) next Tuesday.
"And I'm told they're the No.1 team in the state in Class 4A," McKay said. "Rankings don't really matter at this point. We're just going down there, and our goal is to play well, and win the game. We'll see what happens."
The WHS junior varsity team and Alexander Central played to a scoreless tie.
NOTES: Former Pioneer Jeff Caldwell, a Todd, N.C., native, is a freshman at the University of Virginia. Caldwell, a goalkeeper, played in two exhibition games for the Cavaliers and gave up one goal. The Cavaliers open the season against Old Dominion at home Friday night.
WHS VOLLEYBALL WINS NW3A-4A OPENER
The Watauga High volleyball team got its Northwestern 3A-4A Conference campaign off to a strong start by knocking off St. Stephens, last year's conference champion, 3-1 on the road Wednesday night.
WHS (2-1 overall; 1-0 NW3A-4A) defeated the Indians, 16-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-18. Sarah Combs led the way with 36 assists. Sarah Petersen had 14 kills and three blocks; Sierra Hill had 15 kills and four blocks; Brynne Gould had 11 kills and three blocks; Kiersten McClannon had 16 digs; Sydney Farthing had ten digs and three aces; Makenzie Presnelly had nine digs.
WHS won the junior varsity match by identical 25-18, 25-18 scores. Madie Darner had five kills and five aces; Makenzie Robinson had eight digs with two aces; Rachel Sabo-Hedges had nine digs, three aces and two kills; Savannah Rusher had eight assists and two aces; Taylor Walker had four kills.
The Pioneers travel to Alexander Central for a non-conference game next Tuesday night.
WHS NETTERS SUFFER FIRST LOSS
The Watauga High girls' tennis team suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday night. The Pioneers (3-1) were bested by Asheville-Roberson 7-2 in a non-conference match in Asheville, N.C.
Ali Maupin picked up WHS' only win in single play, when she defeated Anne Rand of the Rams in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4. Maupin teamed up with Elizabeth Allport for an 8-4 win against Elizabeth Thompson and Abby Roberts of Asheville-Roberson at No.3 doubles.
In exhibition play, Addie Hall won her singles match; Savannah Copeland and Briana Davidson, Pia Owen and Katie Mac Knight both won their doubles matches. The Pioneers travel to Lake Norman next Thursday.
WHS JV FOOTBALL @ ASHE COUNTY, 7 P.M.