Five seasons have come and gone since Ashe County High School last tasted victory in the 2A State Playoffs.
This year could be the year to break that streak with the Huskies playing at home for the first time since a 42-24 loss at home against Bandys High School in 2008.
In 2009, Ashe traveled to East Lincoln and were defeated 30-16. The next year, Ashe had to take the long drive to Pisgah High School on a cold fall night. The Bears beat Ashe, 48-14.
Two years ago, Ashe had a rematch with Bandys, but the result was much of the same with the Trojans getting a 40-14 victory.
Last season, Ashe had to go up against heavily-favored Newton-Conover. The Red Devils shut out the Huskies, 49-0.
The Huskies are in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.
Ashe has looked like a completely different team from last year, thanks in large part to much improved play from the offensive line, the defense as a whole, and steady play from the quarterback position.
Last week in the regular season finale against Elkin, Johnathan Cox had a huge game with 24 rushes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Bowers, Cullen Ashley, Matthew Hamilton and Michael Elliott each added a rushing touchdown.
Bowers completed three of six passes. Maison McNeil had one catch for 49 yards and Bradley Lucas had one grab for 40 yards.
Defensively, Jacob Blevins had six tackles and one fumble recovery. Dustin Guy had four tackles, Shawn Baker had three tackles and Alex Laws had three tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. Hamilton added an interception late in the game and Mitchell Brown recorded two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Cox finished the regular season with 1,127 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Hamilton had 259 yards and three scores and Hunter Barnes had 228 yards and one TD.
Bowers is 102-189 passing the ball for 1,428 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
McNeill lead Ashe in receiving with 31 catches for 602 yards and five scores. Lucas has 17 grabs for 278 yards and four TDs.
Defensively, Guy, Elliott and Blevins have each recorded over 60 tackles. Hamilton leads the team with nine interceptions, Brown leads Ashe in fumble recoveries with four and Ashley is the team-leader in quarterback sacks with eight.
For Bunker Hill, it will be the first time they have ever faced Ashe in the playoffs.
The Bears are 5-17 in postseason history, but have recorded just two playoff wins on the road. Bunker Hill has not won a road playoff game since 1987 when they beat Mitchell County. Overall, the Bears have made 18 playoff appearances in school history.
Senior tailback Jordan Eckard is Bunker Hill’s top rusher. He has carried the ball 227 times this season for 1,400 yards.
Quarterback Colton Shepherd has completed 46 of 105 passes for 852 yards and has also carried the ball 105 times for 795 yards.
Most of Shepherd’s passes are pulled down by senior wideout Casey King. King stands at 6’3 and is a tough matchup for cornerbacks to defend. King has 25 grabs for 452 yards and is coming off of his best game of the season, a six-catch, 155-yard performance against West Caldwell last week.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Ashe County High School. Winner of this game will face the winner of Gastonia Hunter Huss and West Lincoln.
2AA West Bracket:
#1 Franklin (11-0) vs. #16 Parkwood (5-6)
#8 Smoky Mountain (7-4) vs. #9 Forest Hills (5-6)
#5 Hunter Huss (4-7) vs. #12 West Lincoln (7-4)
#4 Ashe County (7-4) vs. #13 Bunker Hill (7-4)
#3 East Lincoln (7-4) vs. #14 Bandys (5-6)
#6 Maiden (10-1) vs. #11 Forbush (6-5)
#7 West Stokes (8-3) vs. #10 East Davidson (9-2)
#2 Monroe (9-2) vs. #15 RS Central (5-5)
Other area playoff games:
Bessemer City at Avery County
Brevard at North Wilkes
East Montgomery at Mount Airy
East Wilkes at Swain County
Elkin at Alleghany
Lake Norman Charter at Winston-Salem Carver
Mitchell County at Starmount
Morganton-Patton at Hibriten
Porter Ridge at Watauga
Surry Central at North Rowan
Walkertown at East Surry