More than a decade has passed since the last time Ashe County beat Watauga on the gridiron.
This Friday night, the Huskies will take the field hoping to score that first win against the Pioneers since the 2001 season. That year, Ashe came out on top 14-7, and went on to have its first winning season in the brief history of the school.
There were some close losses along the way though, including a seven-point loss in 2002 and a six-point defeat in 2004.
Lately, however, Watauga has taken control of the rivalry game early on, and has not looked back. In 2007, Watauga captured a 34-7 win, followed by a 27-6 victory in 2008, 30-0 shutout in 2009, 35-0 win in 2010 and most recently a 32-14 victory last year.
The 2012 season started off in very different ways for both rivals. Ashe scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to clinch a 20-14 win over West Caldwell. Watauga was on the bad end of a 51-20 beating from AC Reynolds.
Eli Gambill accounted for nearly all of Ashe’s offense against the Warriors. Gambill rushed for 105 yards, and passed for another 72.
Tripp Taylor leads the Pioneer offense from the quarterback position. Taylor completed 13 of 18 passes last week for 123 yards.
As a team, the Pioneers ran for 89 yards last week against a strong AC Reynolds team. However, their defense against the run was a bit shaky, giving up 176 yards on the ground. The Pioneer pass defense was not any better as AC Reynolds accounted for 269 yards through the air.
This game will mark the home opener for the Pioneers. Ashe will play in its second straight road game.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. from Jack Groce Stadium in Boone.
Elsewhere around the area, Alleghany travels to Grayson County, Va., hoping to bounce back from a 49-26 loss last week at home against North Stokes. Elkin travels to North Surry to battle the Greyhounds, Starmount is headed on the road to play East Surry, Wilkes Central hosts West Iredell, East Wilkes stays at home to play Surry Central, Forbush hosts defending 2AA champion West Stokes, North Wilkes plays its first home game against South Stokes, and finally in what should be one of the most competitive games in the area, West Wilkes travels to Avery County to challenge the Vikings. Last year, Avery won a thriller over the Blackhawks in Miller’s Creek, 35-34.
MVAC standings (no conference games have been played yet)
Ashe County, 1-0
Wilkes Central, 1-0
East Wilkes, 0-1
North Wilkes, 0-1
West Wilkes, 0-1