WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County’s bye week came at a good time for the Huskies as they look to rebound from the loss at Watauga two weeks ago.
The Huskies will face Hibriten this Friday night, arguably the best team that Ashe has faced so far this young season.
“Hibriten is a very big, very fast, very athletic and very well-coached football team. They run the option, which we struggled to stop against Watauga. Their offense is very efficient and very fast,” said Ashe County head coach Brian Hampton. We’re going to have to play a good game. I’m confident in our guys and looking forward to a new challenge.
Unfortunately for Ashe, the Huskies got some bad news on the injury front this week. Lineman Will Taylor will miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery this week. Starting running back Skye Sullivan is out indefinitely and may miss the rest of the season. Starting linebacker Tristen Jones has a hand injury and is unlikely to play this week.
The Panthers are 3-0 and have looked extremely impressive in each of those victories. Hibriten simply overpowered East Burke in the first game of the season, 56-0. In game two against Maiden, one of the top teams in the 2A class, the Panthers pulled away for a 49-20 win. Most recently, Hibriten faced cross-county rival West Caldwell and knocked off the Warriors, 38-7.
“We have nine starters back this season offensively, all of them have done well,” said Hibriten head coach Clay Lewis. “Jamar Ferguson and Chris Scott, our quarterback and fullback, have been our mainstays on offense so far.”
Coach Lewis said that up front, Jimmy Gordon and Jon Lewis are a couple of key players in the trenches for his team.
On the outside, David Patterson, Jarius Cotton and Will Killian will all use their speed at the wideout spot to try to make things tough for the Huskies.
Even with the 3-0 record and the impressive start to the season, the Panthers know they can’t overlook the talented Husky passing attack.
“There are always concerns on defense, but that’s one of the reasons we like playing Ashe. They throw the ball around a lot,” said Lewis. “That’s something we haven’t seen a lot of. It kind of prepares us for the conference season and the playoffs when we face teams that throw the ball. We know it’s going to be a challenge. They give us fits throwing the ball, it helps us seeing teams like that. We’re going to have to be on top of our game.”
Coach Lewis continued his praise of what the Huskies will bring to the table.
“Coach Hampton does a great job especially offensively You can watch the film and see they are well-coached. We may be a little more athletic but you can they are a well-coached team that does a lot of things well,” he said.
Hibriten may have started the season off as a bit of an unknown in Lenoir, but after three impressive victories, people all across the state are starting to take notice. Hibriten is now ranked as the 20th best team overall and the third best 3A team in North Carolina according to Max Preps. The Panthers are also ranked seventh in the state according to the Football Friday Night crew at WBTV in Charlotte.
“We tell our guys every day that rankings don’t mean anything until the end of the season. It’s what we do on the field that matters,” said Lewis. “We’ve got a veteran, experienced team and I think that helps them stay pretty grounded. We have to show up to play every week.”
Kickoff from Jeff Storie Memorial Stadium will be at 7:30 p.m.
Other area games
Watauga at AC Reynolds
Cloudland (TN) at Avery County
Forbush at Starmount
West Stokes at East Surry
Surry Central at Elkin
West Caldwell at Hickory Home School
Rosman at Mountain Heritage
East Wilkes at North Stokes
Mount Airy at North Surry
Alleghany at South Stokes
Atkins at West Wilkes
Morganton Patton at Wilkes Central
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.