VARSITY FOOTBALL: Mitchell begins WHC schedule at Owen
LEDGER – After a week off to rest and recharge, Mitchell High School’s varsity football team returns to action and opens Western Highlands Conference play Friday, Oct. 11, at Owen.
The Mountaineers entered their bye week with a 6-0 record, ranked No. 4 in Class 1A and with plenty of momentum.
Mitchell head coach Travise Pitman said after his team’s more recent win over East Henderson, he hoped his team would use the bye week to “focus on Mitchell football” and perfect some small details of their collective game.
“We got some bruises healed up,” Travise Pitman said. “We had time to evaluate ourselves. We got away from football just a bit.”
The Mountaineers will get a chance to show what they worked on during the bye as they take to the road for the first time since Friday, Sept. 20, when they traveled to Franklin.
Owen enters the game with a 3-2 record. Fifth-year head coach Nathan Padgett saw his team win just seven games across his first four seasons at the helm, including three-straight 1-9 campaigns in his first three seasons.
Padgett’s Warhorses appear much improved from their 4-7 campaign a year ago.
“It’ll be a good test for us,” Travise Pitman said. “They get better each time I watch them on film.”
Owen started its season on a high note by routing East Henderson 42-24 on the road. The Warhorses followed their Week 1 win with a 35-3 loss to A.C. Reynolds, a 5-2 3A program that MaxPreps ranks as the 60th-best team in the state.
After falling to Reynolds, Owen went on the road and blanked North Henderson 13-0.
Owen’s up-and-down season continued in Week 4 when the team fell to 2-2 after a 20-0 loss to 2A Brevard, which has a 5-1 record and has won five-straight games since a Week 1 loss at Mountain Heritage.
The Warhorses climbed back above .500 Friday, Sept. 27, with a 44-7 throttling of visiting Franklin.
Like Mitchell, Owen enjoyed its bye week and was idle Friday, Oct. 4.
Owen’s matchup with Mitchell will be the second in a series of three-straight home games for the Warhorses.
Owen’s offense flows through quarterback Caleb Scott. The junior has completed 47 percent of his passes for 509 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Like Mitchell quarterback Noah Pitman, Scott has yet to throw an interception and is a constant threat to run – his 66 carries and 293 rushing yards are both team-highs.
Scott has scored two of Owen’s nine rushing touchdowns. Junior Blake Roberts leads the team with three rushing touchdowns to go along with 269 rushing yards.
Juniors Dequan Boyce and Shavoy Harding have two rushing touchdowns each and have combined for 316 yards. Boyce’s 8.2 yards per carry average leads the Warhorses.
While the Warhorses have done most of their damage on the ground, when they do air it out, senior Geordon Haggins is the team’s most explosive big-play threat.
Haggins has just six receptions but has racked up 174 yards and three touchdowns. His yards per catch average (29) leads the team.
“I think they’re going to run the ball, and they’re going to throw it,” Travise Pitman said. “They’re going to do both. I don’t think we can focus on just taking one of those away. We need to take both away.”
Roberts has caught five passes for 111 yards, and senior Zebulan Lord leads the team with 10 receptions. Junior Myles Tate caught Owen’s only other touchdown pass this season.
“They have some guys on the outside that are really fast,” Travise Pitman said. “They have a big offensive line, and their quarterback is playing well. They have good skill kids all around.”
Defensively, the Warhorses are anchored by Roberts and senior Saevion Gibbs. Roberts leads the team with 45 tackles (three for a loss), and Gibbs is on his heels with 40 total tackles, including nine for a loss.
Senior Jaylin Davidson has caused havoc in the backfield, racking up a team-high 11 tackles for a loss and three of the team’s eight sacks. He is also credited with nine quarterback hurries. Junior Everett Vale is second on the team with two sacks.
In Owen’s secondary, Lord has served as a ballhawk, recording three of the team’s six interceptions. He also has three passes defended and a fumble recovery.
Boyce, Haggins and senior Will Sulkowski all have one interception each. Harding’s five passes defended is good for the team lead.
“They play good defensively,” Travise Pitman said. “They have people that rally around the football.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday in Black Mountain.