Mountaineers prepare for showdown with rival Avery
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team stayed hot by winning 33-0 Friday, Nov. 1, at Polk County.
Since falling to rival Mountain Heritage for their first loss of the season, the Class 1A No.6-ranked Mountaineers (9-1, 3-1) have won back-to-back games while outscoring those two opponents 102-0.
After thrashing Madison 69-0, Mitchell picked up where it left off at Polk by jumping ahead 7-0 early in the first quarter after a 4-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Noah Pitman.
Noah Pitman found junior Ty Pitman for a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give Mitchell a 14-0 lead it took into halftime.
Noah Pitman scrambled 22 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the night in the third quarter to push Mitchell’s lead to 20-0.
In the final quarter, sophomore Carter Hoyle scored a 7-yard rushing touchdown, and junior Caius Peterson returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown to make the final score 33-0.
Noah Pitman completed 3-of-7 passes for 27 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he did most of his damage on the ground where he ran 21 times for a team-high 206 yards and two scores.
Junior Tanner Duncan carried four times for 27 yards, and senior Logan Hudgins had two carries for 12 yards.
Senior Tyler McKinney caught a pair of passes for 12 yards, and Ty Pitman’s lone 15-yard reception went for a touchdown.
Senior Matthew Gilbert led the Mitchell defense with 14 tackles, and Peterson chipped in 10 tackles, including one for a loss.
Junior Cole Sparks registered a team-high three tackles for a loss, and junior Mason Bullis had two of Mitchell’s six sacks.
Mitchell’s shutout is its second straight and fourth of the season.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said he liked his team’s energy on both sides of the line and said the linebackers and secondary played well.
“I thought we stepped up and matched the intensity they brought,” he said. “Our guys played well on both sides of the ball.”
Mitchell will now look to close the regular season on a high note as Avery County comes to Ledger for the regular-season finale.
Avery (5-4, 1-2) is reeling after back-to-back losses, including a 54-32 loss at home against Owen in its last game.
The Vikings have lost three of their last four games. After starting the season 3-1, the team won just two of its next five games.
Travise Pitman said his team wasn’t taking Avery lightly and added the Vikings would be ready after the short trip down from Newland.
“I think they have struggled at times defensively, but they’ll be up for this game,” Travise Pitman said. “This is a big game for them, and it’ll be a challenge for us to come out and play them.”
Avery is a pass-heavy team led by former Mitchell junior varsity quarterback Troy Hoilman.
The Vikings average 273 yards per game through the air compared to 107 on the ground.
Hoilman has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,379 yards and 29 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions.
Hoilman’s two favorite targets – senior Jonas Bowman and junior Ty Smith – have combined for 90 receptions. Bowman leads the team with 628 receiving yards and six touchdowns while Smith has 605 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Hoilman also likes to target senior Jesse Jones (528 yards, seven touchdowns) and freshman Chad Giarrusso (367 yards, five touchdowns).
“They’re going to throw the ball, and we know that,” Travise Pitman said. “They like to sling it around. We have to get ready for that.”
When Avery does go to the ground, their workhorse is senior Lucas Andrews, who has 86 carries for a team-high 489 yards and five touchdowns.
Hoilman has scrambled 50 times for 293 yards and four touchdowns, and Giarrusso has 19 carries for 122 yards and three scores.
Avery’s defense has struggled to slow down opponents since its 42-0 win Friday, Oct. 18, over Madison. Since that game, the Vikings have allowed 89 points in two games. On the season, the team has surrendered 24 points per game and has allowed at least 44 points three times.
Andrews leads the Avery defense with 152 total tackles, including 17.5 for a loss. Jones has 142 tackles, including 17 for a loss.
Bowman has five of Avery’s 18.5 sacks, and Giarrusso has a team-high three interceptions.
“We want to be clicking on all cylinders this time of year, and we talked about that after the game at Polk,” Travise Pitman said. “We can’t be complacent. We have to keep building. This is another week to get better against a different style offense than we are used to seeing.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ledger.