Chalk it up as a nice problem to have in early December.
Mitchell is still practicing football. The Mountaineers (13-1) just need a relatively mud-free place to do it with all the rain that Western North Carolina has gotten this week.
A fellow Western Highlands Conference program has come to the rescue — Mitchell will practice Wednesday afternoon on the artificial turf field at Avery County.
“We had to go to a middle school (on Tuesday) so could could actually practice,” Mountaineers coach Travise Pitman said.
“We have to thank Avery County for letting us use their field. They not only have turf, they have lights.”
Friday’s 1-AA Western Regional championship game is believed to be the first-ever December football game played in Ledger. Mitchell is home to take on Walkertown (9-5).
The Mountaineers have already set a school record for wins and now have the chance to become their program’s first-ever regional champion.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Pitman said.
“We’ve come in focused these last two days of practice. I can see it in their eyes, they are ready and focused on what they need to do. We haven’t really talked about Friday being a game to go to the state finals. We’ve talked about the adjustments we need to make and what we need to do to give Walkertown a game. They are a good football team.”
Mitchell sophomore Ben Bonner was cool under pressure in last Friday’s third round of the playoffs at East Wilkes. The underclassman’s first field goal of the season (23 yards) sailed true with just 2 minutes, 36 seconds to go in a 17-14 road win.
Ben Young had 242 yards of offense (127 rushing, 115 passing) for the Co-Western Highlands Conference champions. He completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Alex McKinney and later scored on a 5-yard quarterback keeper.
For the season, Young (2,331 yards and 17 touchdowns with eight interceptions) is a 2,000-yard passer and the sophomore ranks third in rushing (588 yards, 19 touchdowns) behind Dalton Beaver (843 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Cy Thomas (756 yards, 10 touchdowns).
Peyton Greene (429 yards, eight touchdowns), Braxton Tehandon (297 yards, seven touchdowns) and Jake Robinson (294 yards five touchdowns) have been other threats out of the Mitchell backfield. The team averages 253.8 rushing yards a game.
Tre Carson (48 receptions for 991 yards and 10 touchdowns) is on the verge of a 1,000-yard season, and other key members of the Mountaineers’ receiving corps are McKinney (20 receptions for 371 yards and five touchdowns), Brody Smith (20 receptions for 278 yards) and Justin Greene (20 receptions for 244 yards and one touchdown).
The defense is dependent on the tackling of Beaver (10.3 per game), Will Atkins (7.9), Jacob Yelton (6.2) and Alex McKinney (4.7).