Pam Pack could be a powerhouse in ‘08

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
The Pam Pack football team will throw on the shoulder pads and buckle up the chin straps for its first official practice in just eight days.
And after a terrific summer of passing camps and weight training, expectations around Washington are higher than ever.
Talks of a first-ever state football title could come to fruition in 2008.
Sure, the loss of all-everything running back Travis Daniels and leading wide receiver Jamont Jones will take its toll, but Washington has plenty of talented young guys ready to step in and show what they can do.
Offensively, quarterback Austin Thompson is destined to have a terrific year. This summer, during the Pam Pack’s passing leagues - a span of some 24 games - Thompson showed the poise and leadership that should help him guide a pass-happy offense. Thompson tossed for more than 75 touchdowns and had just 5 interceptions this entire summer. He demonstrated a strong arm and the ability to make a touch pass, a quality not often found in a high school quarterback. Suffice to say, Thompson has blossomed into a complete quarterback as he enters his senior season.
Thompson also will have a fantastic group of receivers to throw to.
Leading the charge is Dakuan Spencer. Spencer is a lanky junior with great leaping ability and a knack for running with the ball after a catch. He’s got the ability to catch anything that comes his way. Senior Mike Moore is more of a slot guy. A smaller receiver who can create space and make defenders look silly in the open field. Then there’s Mike Godley, a tall receiver with good hands who gets lost in the shadows of Spencer and Moore.
The combination of Thompson and the “Big Three” has Coach Sawyer scheming for a more pass-efficient offense in 2008.
At running back, Tony Turnage will fill the gigantic shoes left behind by Daniels. A smaller, quicker back, Turnage probably won’t rack up the 2,000-plus yards that Daniels had on the ground last season, but he should be more of an asset in the passing game than Daniels was.
One of the big questions the Pam Pack will have to answer on the offensive side of the ball is along the line. The Pack will have to replace three starters from a year ago, but Sawyer feels like he’s got a few guys who can step in play.
Defensively, the Pack looked splendid during passing leagues. At last weekend’s UNC Passing Tournament, Washington gave up less than 10 points per contest.
Add in the defensive line, which defensive coordinator Jon Blank calls the heart of the defense, and this season, the powerful Pack defense could become even stronger.
Along the defensive line, Chase Tripp is the star. The rugged defensive end is explosive off the corner and will wreak havoc in the backfield of the Pack’s opponents all season long. In the middle of the defensive line, Washington will likely rotate six different guys, all of whom weigh 220 pounds or more. And on the weak side end position, Justin Meekins is likely to get first crack at becoming a starter.
The linebacker corps will be led by middle linebacker David Tyson, a physical force in the middle who looks to knock someone’s head off on any play. He’ll be joined by returning starter Gator Moore on the outside. The other outside linebacker position will likely go to either Darius Sneed or Darien Peele.
The secondary will be led by Turnage, who is one of the top cover corners in the area, if not the state.
On August 1, Washington will officially begin fall practices. Six days later, the Pack will put on the pads and begin contact drills. On August 12, the Pack will scrimmage Farmville Central and it will compete in a four-team scrimmage on August 15, before opening the season August 22 at J.G. “Choppy” Wagner Stadium against North Pitt.