Pack faces stiff challenge in openerPublished 4:29pm Thursday, August 22, 2013
The Pam Pack won’t have to wait long for its first big test of the year as it kicks off the 2013 season against defending two-time NCHSAA 3-A state champions Havelock at home tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“This is a big game for us,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “The season opener is always big, but they are the defending 3-A champs and we want to play well and make plays. We’re trying to make some noise ourself this year so we’re looking to come out and play well.”
It was the Rams who put an end to Washington’s dream 2012 season as they handed the Pam Pack a 57-7 loss in the third round of the playoffs en route to its second straight state title and a 15-1 record.
Both teams have graduated key players since, and Sawyer said that he wants his players focused on tonight’s game, not the past.
“I think they understand what Havelock did last year to us in the playoffs, but at the same time we are a different team,” Sawyer said. “We’re trying to just keep it to: let’s play our best and see what happens.”
In 2012 Washington had one of its finest seasons under Sawyer as it went 10-4 with two of those losses coming at the hands of former Coastal Conference mate Havelock and another to 2012 2-A state runners up Tarboro.
Since then, Washington has graduated star dual-threat QB Jimmy Williams and moved into the 2-A classification, while Havelock, who remains in the 3-A Coastal Conference, lost a slew of Div. I talent. Most notably its own dual-threat QB Pharoh Cooper, who is playing at the University of South Carolina.
While a lot has changed for both teams, some things still remain the same as the Pam Pack brings back several starters on defense and a potent 1-2 punch on offense in running back Markel Spencer and WR Stevie Green.
The Rams are far from baron and are led by senior running back Derrell Scott, who is a rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and is listed as the fifth-best college prospect in the state.
Sawyer said Scott, who is being recruited by South Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State and Oregon to name a few, is a big threat, but not the only concern of the Pam Pack defense.
“We have to stop the running game because if not he’s going to run all night long,” Sawyer said. “But, at the same time they have a good screen game and a good screen and go game. They can run and pass the ball.”
Washington will look to strike with similar balance, but whether or not it can is yet to be determined. While Washington brings back Spencer and Green, it will have a new quarterback in sophomore Brodie West, who faces an extremely tough test in his first-ever varsity football game.
“So far in the preseason he’s been working hard and doing a good job,” Sawyer said. “We just have to continue to develop him. He has to be smart and play within himself and just be smart with the ball when it’s time to make a play.”