VARSITY FOOTBALL: Mitchell routs East Henderson
LEDGER – Mitchell High School’s varsity football team enters its bye week with plenty of momentum and a perfect 6-0 record.
Mitchell’s most recent rout, a 48-7 thrashing of East Henderson Friday, Sept. 27, during homecoming in Ledger, gave the team its sixth straight win and marked the fourth time this season the team has scored at least 48 points.
The Class 1A No. 3-ranked Mountaineers will enjoy their bye week and will return to action Friday, Oct. 11, at Owen in the first Western Highlands Conference game of the season.
Mitchell got off to a fast start against East Henderson, scoring three first-quarter touchdowns to take away momentum from the visitors. Senior quarterback Noah Pitman ran for one touchdown and threw for two – one to senior Tyler McKinney and the other to junior Ty Pitman.
Noah Pitman found Ty Pitman for another touchdown and ran for another in the second quarter to give Mitchell a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Noah Pitman scampered in for his third rushing touchdown of the night in the third quarter and junior running back Ty Sparks found the end zone for the team’s final score in the fourth quarter.
East Henderson broke through with a passing touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 48-7.
Mitchell has defeated all of its opponents by double digits, with the closest game coming in Week 1 when the Mountaineers won 24-7 at Erwin.
The Mountaineers have shutout two opponents – Cabarrus and Franklin – and have scored 55 or more points twice.
Since allowing a season-high 12 points to visiting Trinity Academy Friday, Sept. 6, Mitchell has allowed just 15 points over the next three games, including a 49-0 shutout Friday, Sept. 20, at Franklin.
Trinity Academy is still the only team to score double-digit points against the Mountaineers this season.
Through six games, Mitchell has outscored its opponents 270-34 and the high-scoring Mitchell offense is running through Noah Pitman.
Noah Pitman is 45-for-81 for 743 yards through the air. He has tossed 13 touchdown passes and still has not thrown an interception, which is good enough for a gaudy 126.2 quarterback rating.
Noah Pitman has been just as dangerous on the ground, running for a team-high 724 yards on 56 carries. His four 100-yard games and 11 touchdowns both lead the team.
Mountaineers head coach Travise Pitman said his team has done an excellent job of allowing Noah Pitman to get into the open field.
“It’s about matchups,” Travise Pitman said. “We see where we have matchup issues, and we’re trying to get Noah into space with the ball.”
Behind Noah Pitman, junior running back Tanner Duncan has made the most of his 44 carries, racking up 418 rushing yards to complement three rushing touchdowns.
“Tanner is picking it up,” Travise Pitman said. “He’s bringing that edge. Tanner has always been a great running back. For him, it’s been about getting a feel for Friday night and the speed of it, and as he’s settled in, that’s become something he’s accustomed to.”
Sophomore Carter Hoyle has 183 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns and senior Logan Hudgins has a couple of rushing touchdowns and 171 yards.
Among receivers, senior Tyler McKinney is standing out. He leads the team in receptions (25), receiving yards (509) and receiving touchdowns (eight).
Ty Pitman is Mitchell’s second-leading receiver. He has 10 receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Sparks has just four receptions on the season, but all of them have gone for a touchdown. He has 26 receiving yards.
“That’s what we need,” Travise Pitman said. “We need multiple people who are capable of doing what we need them to do. With each week, we’ve grown into a better passing team.”
Mitchell’s stingy defense is led by junior linebacker Caius Peterson who has a team-high 45 solo tackles and seven tackles for a loss.
“Caius is playing good football,” Travise Pitman said. “He has put himself in good situations to make plays.”
Duncan is second on the team with 31 solo tackles, and senior Cameron Greene is on his heels with 30 solo tackles.
The Mountaineers have generated consistent pressure with their pass rush and have 19 sacks and 57 quarterback hurries.
“Defensively, we’re pretty sound,” Travise Pitman said. “The players understand the scheme and what we’re trying to do. They all understand their roles.”
Senior Hunter Zheng leads the team with four sacks. Hoyle has three sacks, and Noah Pitman, Peterson, senior Matthew Gilbert and junior Mason Bullis all have two each.
“Hunter just finds the football,” Travise Pitman said. “He’s a tough kid that plays hard and we’re glad to have him in there causing a raucous.”
Peterson has a team-high 11 quarterback hurries.
The Mountaineers have intercepted opposing quarterbacks nine times with senior Garrison Phillips leading the way with five interceptions. Junior Harrison Horney has registered two interceptions, and McKinney and Hudgins have one each.
Senior kicker Elliot Kadans has been a steady force on special teams for the Mountaineers. He has kicked off 44 times, and all but seven of those have generated touchbacks.
Kadans has punted just three times, but averages 37 yards per punt and placed one punt inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Kadans has hit both of his field-goal attempts and is 34-for-35 on extra points.
“Elliot is putting our defense in a good position by making opponents drive 80 yards,” Travise Pitman said. “He’s a good threat for field goals, and we knew that he could come in and be a force in our kicking game.”
Following the bye week, Mitchell will play back-to-back road games. After traveling to Owen, the Mountaineers will travel Friday, Oct. 18, to face rival Mountain Heritage.
Mitchell then comes home to host Madison Friday, Oct. 25, and travels to Polk the following week. The Mountaineers close the regular season Friday, Nov. 8, in Ledger against Avery.
Through six weeks, Madison (0-6) is the only Western Highlands Conference team with a losing record. Polk remains undefeated with a 5-0 mark while Mountain Heritage, Owen and Avery are a combined 11-5.
Travise Pitman said his team would use the bye week to freshen up and prepare for conference play.
“We’re pretty healthy, but this is a week to condition our bodies,” Travise Pitman said. “We can fix some little things and just focus on Mitchell football instead of worrying about planning for an opponent.”