Ashe faces Newton-Conover in first round
by Nathan Ham
Ashe will open the 2AA State Playoffs with the unenviable task of having to stop the Newton-Conover Red Devils this Friday night.
The Red Devils finished the regular season in a three-way tie for first place in the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference. Newton-Conover finished 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the CVAC.
The Huskies enter the playoffs with a 4-7 overall record and were 3-5 in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference.
Newton-Conover will be led by standout quarterback Kevin Cline. The senior completed 52-percent of his passes this year while throwing for 1,228 yards, 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Kline is also the team’s leading rusher with 702 yards on 134 carries with nine touchdowns. Joining him in the backfield will be a group of quick running backs that can change a game in a moment’s notice. Matt Coulter has had 122 carries on the year for 658 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Nick Baker has chipped in 84 carries for 547 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior Marquis Pope is the big home-run threat in the backfield. He has carried the ball just 55 times, but has 578 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging over 10 yards per carry.
Pope is one of the team’s big play receivers as well with 14 catches for 388 yards and four touchdowns. He averages nearly 30 yards per catch. Sam Avis leads all Red Devil players with 24 catches.
The Huskies will counter with sophomore quarterback Connor Bowers, who will be hoping to bounce back from a tough game at East Wilkes last week.
Jonathan Cox will lead the way in the backfield, as he does every week. Cox has had 205 rushing attempts for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns, and will most certainly be an MVAC All-Conference performer when those awards are handed out.
Defensively, Michael Elliott has been all over the field this season making tackles. The junior leads all Husky players with 62 tackles. Carson Knight and Dominic Maxwell have been the leaders on the defensive line. Knight has 37 tackles and four quarterback sacks while Maxwell has 34 tackles and three quarterback sacks.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. this Friday from Gurley Stadium at Newton-Conover HS.
Other area playoff games:
Alleghany at Elkin
Avery County at Lake Norman Charter
Bishop McGuinness at Monroe
Carver at Starmount
Central Academy of Technology and Arts at Mount Airy
Cherryville at West Wilkes
East Surry at South Stokes
East Wilkes at Swain County
Lincolnton at Wilkes Central
North Stokes at East Columbus
North Surry at West Stokes
North Wilkes at Hendersonville
Watauga at Porter Ridge
Reach at or 336-846-7164.
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