Round 2 opponent no match for Mitchell
LEDGER -- Mitchell High School’s varsity football team started its quest for a state championship this past Friday by routing visiting Community School of Davidson 67-21 in the second round of the state playoffs.
The Mountaineers (11-1) had a first-round bye after earning a No. 1 seed by going 10-1 in the regular season.
Mitchell’s 67 points scored is a season-high and the team’s most since they scored 62 Oct. 13 against visiting Madison.
The team’s 21 points allowed is also a season-high in a win and marks just the third time this season the Mountaineers have allowed 20 or more points, including their lone loss at Mountain Heritage in early October when they allowed 30.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said the team came out sluggish after their second bye week of the season. He added a strong running game and good performance from senior quarterback Ben Young helped the team settle in.
“Our special teams suffered a bit from not playing because you need a rhythm there,” Pitman said. “I thought our backs ran the ball well and Ben threw the ball well again.”
Mitchell started the scoring just over two minutes into the game when junior running back Landon Miller capped a six-play scoring drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. After a missed extra point, the Mountaineers led 6-0.
Mitchell struck again minutes later on a 57-yard touchdown connection between Young and senior receiver Jesse Pitman. The team failed the 2-point conversion and led 12-0 after one quarter.
Young powered his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter and found senior running back Ben Robinson for a 14-yard passing touchdown minutes later to put Mitchell up 26-0.
Community School of Davidson broke through with a passing touchdown late in the second quarter, but Mitchell answered with three touchdowns of its own in the final three minutes of the first half – two connections between Young and senior receiver Brody Smith and another rushing touchdown by Young with just 20 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Mountaineers took a commanding 47-7 lead into halftime.
Junior running back Jordan Cox scored from 10 yards out in the third quarter to push Mitchell’s lead to 53-7.
The Spartans added their second touchdown on a 93-yard kickoff return shortly after Cox’s score, but Mitchell answered again on a 1-yard plunge by sophomore Noah Pitman.
The Spartans scored their final touchdown on a 24-yard pass midway through the final quarter and Mitchell rounded out the scoring on a 75-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back Ethan LaPlante that made the final score 67-21.
Robinson, LaPlante and Noah Pitman all crossed the century mark in rushing and combined for two touchdowns.
Young ran eight times for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns and completed 7-of-13 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns compared to one interception. He was sacked once.
Smith led all receivers with 105 yards and two touchdowns on three receptions and Jesse Pitman chipped in 77 receiving yards and a touchdown on a pair of catches.
The Mountaineers outgained the Spartans 467-136.
Miller led the way defensively for the Mountaineers, amassing 5.5 tackles, including two for a loss. Noah Pitman had a pair of toe-tapping interceptions in the corner of the end zone and Smith also had an interception he returned for 22 yards.
The Mountaineers now turn their attention to Robbinsville, who will travel to Ledger Friday for a third-round game.
No. 5-seeded Robbinsville (9-4) opened the playoffs with a 57-16 home rout of Rossman and followed with a 46-34 road win this past Friday over No. 4-seed Mountain Island Charter in the second round.
The Black Knights have won 11 state titles since 1973 – the most in the state during that span – and have finished above .500 in six of head coach Dee Walsh’s eight seasons with the team.
Walsh led the team to a 16-0 finish and a state title in 2014 and a 12-3 campaign the season after.
The Black Knights closed the regular season with two losses in their final three games, but have been on three-game winning streaks twice this season.
Travise Pitman said Robbinsville serves a model for what he hopes to build at Mitchell.
“They have a rich tradition,” he said. “They want the same thing we want. It’ll be a good test for us. They’ve been very successful and they’ve been here before.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Ledger.