Mitchell routs Warhorses
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team closed the regular season Friday, Nov. 2, with an exclamation mark in a 55-14 rout of visiting Owen.
The Mountaineers finish the season with a 9-2 overall record including a 4-1 mark in Western Highlands Conference play.
After a 24-16 home loss to Mountain Heritage, Mitchell won its final four games and outscored those opponents by a combined 234-41.
Junior quarterback Noah Pitman and senior running back Landon Miller each crossed the 100-yard rushing mark in the thrashing of Owen and helped the team explode to a 48-0 lead before the Warhorses broke the shutout in the fourth quarter.
Noah Pitman finished with a team-high 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on four carries and completed 5-of-7 passes for 113 yards and a pair of scores.
Miller ran nine times for 104 yards and found the end zone three times.
Junior Tyler McKinney was the team’s leading receiver with two catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
The Mountaineers raced out to a 28-0 lead thanks to four rushing touchdowns in the opening quarter – two by Miller, one by Noah Pitman and another by senior Ethan LaPlante.
Noah Pitman tossed touchdown passes to juniors Tyler McKinney and Garrison Phillips in the second quarter to give the home team a 42-0 lead at halftime.
Miller added a five-yard rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Owen got on the board early in the fourth quarter with a 42-yard touchdown connection between Audun Meyers and Ty Davidson, but sophomore Tanner Duncan answered the score with a 25-yard touchdown run.
Davidson added a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the final minute.
Noah Pitman accounted for three total touchdowns and completed passes to three different receivers while averaging 28.5 yards per carry on the ground.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said Noah Pitman has answered all the questions about how effective he could be in his first season as a varsity starting quarterback.
“Week 1, I knew he could be pretty good,” Travise Pitman said about Noah Pitman. “He’s answered all the questions, and he’s become a good student of the game, and those are the things we need to move forward and advance in the playoffs.”
The Mitchell defense heads into the 1A state playoffs with plenty of momentum. The team gave up just 14.9 points per game in the regular season and limited opponents to 20 or fewer points in eight of its 11 contests.
Travise Pitman said the defense stayed strong against Owen.
“Defensively, we played outstanding,” he said. “We got after the ball, and we ran a lot of different schemes to keep them off balance.”
The Mountaineers held the Warhorses to 260 yards on 48 plays, forced a fumble and got an interception courtesy of Miller.
Sophomore linebacker Ty Sparks led the way with nine total tackles, and senior Hudson Boone recorded four tackles, including two for a loss, to go along with Mitchell’s lone sack.
Mitchell finishes in second place in the conference behind Mountain Heritage, which improved to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play with a 64-7 rout of Avery.
The Mountaineers now await their playoff fate and will likely have to sit idle for longer than most other teams.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced the extension of the regular season by one week this past September when many schools in the state were forced to postpone games due to Hurricane Florence.
The final regular season games are Friday, Nov. 9, and seeding will take place Saturday, Nov. 10.
Mitchell’s schedule was unaffected by the hurricane, meaning they are idle this week as other teams close out regular-season schedules.
With Mitchell’s strong finish to the regular season, the team is likely in a position to secure a high seed, and a first-round bye in the 1A state playoffs, meaning the Mountaineers will likely host a second-round game in Ledger, but not until Friday, Nov. 23.
Travise Pitman said the uncertainty and potential long layover would test his team’s mental fortitude.
“There’s nothing to prepare for, so ultimately we have to prepare for ourselves,” Travise Pitman said. “The kids want a purpose just like anyone else. At the end of the day, we just have to do what we can to continually get better.”
Mitchell finished the 2017 regular season 10-1 and was the No. 1 seed in the 1A West Region. After a first-round bye, the Mountaineers crushed No. 9 seed Community School of Davidson and rolled over No. 5 seed Robbinsville before falling to No. 2 seed and eventual state champion Cherokee in the State Regional Finals.
Mitchell played all three of its 2017 state playoff games under the lights in Ledger.
MaxPreps has Mitchell ranked No. 4 in Class 1A in behind Tarboro, North Stanly and John A. Holmes. The rankings have Mitchell ahead of three undefeated teams – Mount Airy, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and Princeton.