SHOWDOWN! (2018-10-28 18:36:02)

SAWMILLS, NC The stage has been set for Monday's one-game playoff between the Watauga High boy's soccer team and Hickory.

The Pioneers (12-2 Northwest Conference, 17-5-1) and the Red Tornadoes (12-2, 15-3-4) shared the Northwestern Conference title, handing WHS its first conference championship since 2007. The Pioneers will now play Hickory in a one-game playoff at South Caldwell Monday night at 6 p.m. If it rains, the game will be moved to McDowell, where the teams will play on artificial turf. The Pioneers and the Red Tornadoes split their season series at a win a piece. HHS beat WHS 1-0 in their initial meeting, but the Pioneers rebounded to beat the Red Tornadoes at Jack Groce Stadium, 3-0. The winner of Monday's game will earn the No.1 seed in the state playoffs, which officially begin on Saturday, November 3. Playoff pairings, according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, will be released on Wednesday, October 31. The WHS soccer team, led by former Pioneer Josh Honeycutt, who should win, hands down, Coach of the Year honors, is 33-12-3 under his tenure the last two years. The Pioneers are led by two of the top three scorers in the NWC in Jair Alvarez and Gabe Highfield. Alvarez led the NWC with 20 goals, 12 assists and 52 points. Highfield was third in scoring in the NWC with 16 goals and eight assists for 40 points. The Pioneers scored 89 goals this season, and gave us just 22 goals. WHS also posted 11 shutouts this season. Senior Aziz Bibani (0.66 goals-against-average) and junior Max Sappington (1.12) have backboned the defense. The Red Tornadoes, led by Brian Jillings, a former WHS assistant, have outscored their opponents, 53-17.