MAKING A STATEMENT
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team passed a tough test with flying colors.
The Mountaineers won their fourth straight game Friday, Sept. 14, by taking care of visiting 2-A powerhouse Franklin 41-20.
Mitchell (4-1) has scored 41 or more points in three straight games and has outscored its opponents 154-65 since a 34-21 loss to Erwin in Week 1.
The Mountaineers scored the game’s first 21 points to take a lead it did not relinquish and racked up 308 rushing yards to wear down a physical Franklin team that falls to 3-2 after seeing its two-game winning streak snapped.
Junior quarterback Noah Pitman led the way for Mitchell with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns and completing 4-of-7 passes for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Mitchell received the ball to start the game and capped off a 15-play drive that took more than seven minutes with a four-yard touchdown pass from Noah Pitman to sophomore Ty Pitman.
The Mountaineers added to their lead with two second-quarter rushing touchdowns from Noah Pitman.
Franklin scored its first touchdown late in the second quarter on a 31-yard pass from Blake Gibson to Coleman Saunders, but Mitchell scored again with just 27 seconds left in the first half when Noah Pitman found senior Landon Miller for a 42-yard score and the Mountaineers took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
The Panthers scored on their first drive of the second half when Tyler Harrison notched a four-yard rushing touchdown, but Miller and senior Ethan LaPlante scored rushing touchdowns of their own to put Mitchell up 41-14.
Franklin’s Isaac Dewey recorded a 20-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 41-20.
Miller’s two catches for 112 yards led the team, and he chipped in 82 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. LaPlante ran twice for 71 yards, and a score and senior Jordan Cox chipped in 30 yards on five attempts.
Noah Pitman improves his season completion percentage to 46 percent. Through his first five games as a varsity starting quarterback, he has thrown for 617 yards and has tossed 10 touchdowns compared to just one interception.
Noah Pitman’s 606 rushing yards also leads the team. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season except the Week 3 win over Trinity Academy in which he recorded 64 rushing yards.
Junior lineman Michael Robertson said he has played with Noah Pitman since they were in second grade and has witnessed rapid growth for his quarterback this season.
“He is becoming smarter every game,” Robertson said. “He knows what to do and when to do it. The changes have been amazing.”
Robertson and the offensive line kept Noah Pitman from being sacked and opened up big holes for the running game as the team averaged more than seven yards per carry.
“It feels great,” Robertson said. “Every week we are getting stronger. We got very pumped up for this game, and we all felt good.”
Noah Pitman said the offensive line has been making things easier for the offense and has helped him settle into his role as a quarterback.
“Going out there at first, it was kind of hard,” Noah Pitman said. “I felt like I had big shoes to fill. But the line is making everything a whole lot easier. Without them, our backs can’t really do anything.”
While Mitchell’s running game fired on all cylinders, the Mountaineers defense stifled the Franklin ground attack, limiting the visitors to under five yards per carry and holding leading rushers Tyler Harrison and Seth Price to 41 and 34 yards, respectively.
Senior Hunter Johnson led the way for the Mitchell defense with 11 tackles while sophomore Ty Sparks recorded 10 tackles. Senior Garrett Greene and junior Logan Hudgins had one sack each.
“I think it boosts our confidence pretty good,” Noah Pitman said about the win. “I thought throughout the game we got better.”
Mitchell is back in action Friday for homecoming, as 2-A R-S Central (1-4) comes to Ledger.
The Hilltoppers, who finished 4-7 last season, are off to a slow start, having lost back-to-back games after a Week 3 win over Polk County.
R-S Central surrendered 50 points in its most recent loss at South Caldwell and has been limited to 13 or fewer points in four of its five contests.
Mitchell traveled to R-S Central last season, and the Mountaineers spoiled homecoming with a 41-7 win that was spurred by an explosive second quarter that featured four touchdown passes from graduated quarterback Ben Young and a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ledger.