SIDE VIEW: Mitchell is tested, ready
The week off for the Mountaineers came at a great time. It comes at the break between the non-conference games and conference games. Traditionally, the coaches have time to evaluate players and get them ready for the conference slate. This year, it has been no different than the past few years.
The Western Highlands Conference is as tough as it has been in several years. It wouldn’t be out of the question for any of five of the six teams in the conference to win the 2019 state championship.
The Western Highlands Conference is and has been unique for years. One of the things that makes it unique is no team utilizes the same style of offense or defense. From a fan’s perspective, it is fun to watch different styles of play each week. From a coach’s perspective, it drives them nuts. With the conference games now ahead, each week Mountaineer fans will see different styles of play. With all respect, any four of the Mountaineers’ next five opponents could win the conference title.
First on the conference schedule is Owen. Anyone that has followed high school football for a few years is well acquainted with the Warhorses from Owen High School.
The Kenny Ford-led Warhorses were dominant for years. Following Ford’s retirement, it has taken a few years to get back on track. Now in his fifth year as head coach, Nathan Padgett has Owen back on track, and the team enters the conference with a 3-2 record. They have wins over two Mountaineer opponents, East Henderson and Franklin.
Caleb Scott is Owen’s quarterback, and he enters the game with 509 yards passing, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Scott, Blake Roberts and Dequan Boyce each have more than 200 rushing yards this season. Roberts leads the Warhorse defense followed by Saevion Gibbs with 40 tackles and Jaylin Davidson has 32. This first conference game will be a considerable challenge for the Mountaineers. They will have to play their best game of the year to have a chance to win.
A look at the Western Highlands Conference seems like a dog fight. Any team could easily win on any given night. Each team brings its own style into the conference race this year. Each has its own identity and strengths. It will be a lot of fun to watch and see how the conference race unfolds this year. One goal of every team is to qualify for the state playoffs. I can easily see five of the six Western Highlands Conference teams making the playoffs this year and all of them advancing into the second round and beyond.
I would encourage fans to get behind the Mountaineers. They are going to need all the support they can get on the road for three tough conference games, not to mention two home games that will be tough as well. Wear your purple and show up early.
Bring your cowbells and make lots of noise in support of the Mountaineers. Also, remember to be on your best behavior.
Chris Pitman gains his views from 40 years of involvement with Mitchell High School Athletics.