WEST JEFFERSON — Two rivals square off on Friday night, and for the first time in 14 years, it will be Ashe that is trying to start a winning streak in the battle between the Huskies and Pioneers.
Ashe won a thriller last season with a game-winning field goal from Kendall Richardson late in the fourth quarter, snapping a 13-year losing skid to the Pioneers and scoring the first ever win for the Huskies over the Pioneers in Boone. The previous victory came in 2001 with a 14-7 win in West Jefferson.
This year, Ashe is coming off of a tough 26-14 loss to North Surry last week while the Pioneers ran all over Alexander Central for a 42-20 win. Ashe will face Alexander Central later in the season in the final non-conference game.
Ashe got a big game from Maison McNeill last week as the senior had over 150 receiving yards, one touchdown and added an interception on defense. Skye Sullivan ran for the team’s other touchdown.
Defensively, the Huskies played hard, but the Greyhounds had too many weapons in the end and saw their defense shut out the Huskies in the second half to get the win.
The Pioneers ran for seven touchdowns in last week’s season opener. Quarterback Aaron Dobbins scored two of those and tailback Evan Suggs had the other four, including a 51-yard scamper in the fourth quarter that gave the Pioneers a 42-14 advantage.
This is the third year in a row that Ashe County has opened the season with North Surry and Watauga as the first two opponents. Last year, Ashe won both of the games, but in 2013, the Huskies lost both of the games in very close fashion. The Greyhounds beat the Huskies 20-13 and the Pioneers held on to beat the Huskies 13-7 in overtime.
Watauga is once again led on the sidelines by head coach Ryan Habich. This is his third season as the Pioneer head coach.
In 2013, the Pioneers went 8-4 overall and Habich was named the Northwestern 3A/4A Coach of the Year.
Last season, the Pioneers were 9-4 and third place in the NW 3A/4A conference.
Kickoff for the Huskies’ home opener will be at 7:30 p.m.
Other area games
Avery County at McDowell
East Wilkes at Surry Central
Grayson County (Va.) at Alleghany
Maiden at Hibriten
North Iredell at Forbush
North Surry at Elkin
North Wilkes at South Stokes
South Davidson at North Stokes
Starmount at East Surry
West Caldwell at South Caldwell
West Iredell at Wilkes Central
West Stokes at Mount Airy
West Wilkes at Pine Lake Prep
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87