By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — For an early season middle school football game, the Watauga Wolverines were not just talented, but well-prepared and disciplined in running over their Ashe County counterparts, 44-0, on Aug. 29 at Jack Groce Stadium.
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Featuring a run-oriented offense that somewhat mirrors the Pioneers’ high school team, the Wolverines got after the Huskies early and often. When the Huskies weren’t suffering from mental mistakes (AKA penalties such as false starts and offsides), they shot themselves in the proverbial foot with drive-killing fumbles, some lost as turnovers.
Watauga wingback Coy Greer carried the ball six times for 130 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 2-point conversion. After the game, he deflected any praise, crediting his offensive linemen for creating the gaps and their blocking.
The Wolverines also saw rushing TDs from Garvin Chauncey (3 carries, 54 yards, 1 TD), quarterback Chase Watts (5 carries, 24 yards, 1 TD, 1-1 passing for -1 yard), and Michael Morgan (4 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD). Also out of the Wolverine backfield, Luke Everett tallied a 2-point conversion with a sweep around the left side.
“I went a little too far outside,” said Everett later in recalling the designed play, “then saw the gap open inside and cut back in. If I had continued going outside, I probably wouldn’t have made it across the goal line.”
What Watauga accomplished on offense, they also did on defense. John Wilson Mills of Blowing Rock was arguably the star of the Wolverines’ defensive show on this day, flying around the field with a mission of stopping Ashe County dead in its tracks, even on special teams. The authority with which he med the Husky playmakers resonated throughout the packed grandstands.
Watauga middle school cheerleader coach Alex Vines recalled of a Mills “pancake” tackle in the first half, “One of my girls wasn’t looking a the field and heard the smack of body hitting body. She said, ‘What was THAT?’ I replied, ‘That was a John Wilson Mills hit.'”
Mills wasn’t alone. Watts was playing both ways and also was main contributor on defense, individually, while the defensive line kept consistent pressure on the Husky quarterback, Kaedon Cook.
Offensively, Husky running back Haylon Cox carried the ball seven times for 18 yards, while Cook was limited to just one yard on five carries. He was 0-3 passing, with one interception — by John Wilson Mills.
“I was excited,” said Wolverine head coach Michael Neff. “On Saturday we got to scrimmage against Chestnut Grove Middle School in Stokes County. Based on what we saw, we knew our defense was going to be tough and we felt our offense was going to be able to score some points. We have been excited for the last 72 hours to see what we could do against an official opponent, not just in a scrimmage. Our kids definitely came to play. Football is about running, blocking and tackling, and we did all of that in all phases.”
Neff singled out John Wilson Mills as one of the Watauga players who is making a difference.
“Mills is a player. He flies around, getting after it and making plays. He truly loves the game of football and we have a number of guys on the team that feel the same way.”
While dominant, the Wolverines’ performance was far from perfect.
“I know it seemed as if everything was going right,” said Neff, “but we missed some blocks. We missed some tackles. We will start working again tomorrow and correct some things, getting ready for West Alexander next week because they are going to be tough.”
The Wolverines meet West Alexander on Sept. 6, with kickoff at Jack Groce Stadium scheduled for 5 p.m. They play at East Alexander a week later.