Pam Pack presses forwardPublished 7:20pm Thursday, November 7, 2013
Not now. That was the message Washington football coach Sport Sawyer delivered to his team after it wrapped up its first conference title in over a decade last week when it topped North Pitt 22-14.
There will be a time to celebrate that accomplishment, but with the playoffs looming, it is not now.
“We’re saying right now is not the time to reflect,” Sawyer said. “We’ll look back at some point, hopefully in a little over a month, but right now we want to keep our foot on the gas.”
That means not easing off the accelerator in this week’s regular season finale against a winless North Johnston team.
“We’re going full speed ahead,” Sawyer said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement.”
The temptation may be strong for Washington (8-2, 4-0), who made its debut in the AP 2-A Poll this week at No. 9, to ease off in the finale against the Panthers (0-10, 0-4), but the team has to look no further then next week’s postseason opener for motivation.
This year the NCHSAA has ditched the pod system that awarded multiple No. 1 seeds in favor of a March Madness style bracket, which means that one win or loss could greatly impact the Pack’s seeding.
“We can’t overlook them. Right now we’re fighting for a top playoff seed,” Sawyer said. “I feel like if we win we should end up with a 1-4 seed. If we lose we could end up being 5-8. This is huge for our team.”
The Pam Pack has been red hot down the stretch, having won six straight games.
The Panthers have been the polar opposite. They enter tonight’s game on a 10-game slide and have scored only 15 points in their last four games.
With tonight’s contest representing their last chance to get a win, the Panthers could be very dangerous.
“They have some players over there, they have just had some misfortune,” Sawyer said. “They’re a spread type offense and they do some zone reads and on defense they use a three-man front. We can’t overlook them. We have to come out and play.”
The Pam Pack will look to slow down North Johnston’s spread offense behind the play of its gigantic tackle tandem of Baylone Guilford and Travon Wallace, who have 72 and 51 tackles on the season, respectively.
The duo has been a big key in for the Washington D, especially in short-yardage situations this season.
“The defensive line has really been able to get a push and get into the offensive backfield,” Sawyer said. “When you can do that it really stops other teams’ offenses and it gives our linebackers the opportunity to make plays, and that’s what they have been doing.”
Sophomore linebacker Brandon Jackson leads Washington with 100 tackles, while fellow LB Karim Topping is right behind him with 96. Outside linebacker Tarahje Burke has been a force in pass rush situations, racking up a team-high seven sacks.