Head coach Brian Hampton’s second season at Ashe County High School once again sees him face his former team, this time for the season opener. Ashe travels to North Surry to square off against the Greyhounds this Friday.
Ashe brings back several important players from last year’s team, including senior leading rusher Jonathan Cox and junior quarterback Connor Bowers, who saw playing time at the end of the 2012 season.
“He (Cox) is a key player for us with 1,300 yards rushing and being an all-conference performer last season,” said Coach Hampton.
Cox is a little banged up after an injury during the first scrimmage of the season, but he will do his best to give it a go in the early-season non-conference matchups.
Elsewhere, Cullen Ashley played both tight end and linebacker last year and will be a force during his senior season.
On the always-important offensive line, Coach Hampton feels that Mitchell Brown and Sam Phillips are a pair of key seniors to lead the big men up front.
On the outside, two underclassmen are going to be counted on to provide Bowers with some open targets in the passing game.
“Jacob Blevins has looked good in camp along with Maison McNeill who has looked really good,” Hampton said.
McNeill, a sophomore, has had a few big catches already in scrimmages and practice. Blevins is a junior who saw action last season at wideout.
Defensively, Jacob Worley, Kenny Reid and Michael Elliott were all mentioned as big time performers in the secondary.
Hampton is also happy to have Dustin Guy back defensively after a tough year last year.
“Dustin has done some great things and we’re tickled to death that he’s able to run around and do some things after his knee injury last year. He has looked good both running the football and at linebacker,” Hampton said.
Senior Alex Laws has played well at both wide receiver and outside linebacker while Nick Gregory and Jason Baker have been strong performers on the defensive line.
“Right now it looks like we might be able to platoon a little bit and get a lot more guys on the field, and by doing that I think we’ll be in better shape and wear some people down in the fourth quarter,” added Hampton.
Ashe starts off the regular season with four tough non-conference games. After North Surry, Ashe will host Watauga, travel to R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem and then host Hibriten for the annual Endowment Game.
“Those four games are important and we want to win those four games, but what it really boils down to is when we get into our league play, that is when we win championships,” said Hampton. “I think those four games are four games we can win and I expect our guys to go out and compete each week and we’ll see what happens on the scoreboard.”
Kickoff for the season opener is set for 7:30 p.m.