FIRST DAY OF HITTING; Pam Pack coaches have mixed reactions

Published 3:29 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
There were some jarring blows, a whole lot of popping and even some smack-talking.
It may have been the first official day of contact for prep teams across the state, but the Washington Pam Pack looked to be in mid-season form at times. Then again, at other times, it looked like the first day of contact.
While the Pack competed in a passing league throughout the summer, the defensive players never got to get in any good licks. That changed Friday night, and that left many of the players salivating.
Junior linebacker Weasel Moore, a staring outside linebacker, had been looking forward to contact since June.
Defensive coordinator Jon Blank saw positives and negatives out of Friday’s session.
It wasn’t all about defense. The offense looked sharp, especially quarterback Austin Thompson. The third-year quarterback, a rising senior, delivered some nifty passes and even some bruising runs during Friday’s practice.
Thompson was pleased with how the Pack is progressing.
The Pack will get a better test when it scrimmages with Farmville Central on Wednesday evening. Action at Farmville Central High School will begin at 6 p.m. and admission will be $2.
Blank will be studying his defensive players closely.
Moore is anxious to face off against an opponent that won’t be clad in blue and white.
Thompson is looking for his team to take another big step in what he’s hoping will be a special year.
Washington will get in another tune-up Friday with a five-team jamboree at Washington High School. The Pack will be joined by Southside, Plymouth, Mattamuskeet and First Flight.
Communication key for Panthers
By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
YEATESVILLE — All the usual noises filled the Northside High School football field as the Panthers underwent their first practice with full pads.
Linebackers collided with running backs to cause a clash, while the sound of plastic on plastic roamed through the trenches as linemen battled between whistles. However, it was the defining sound of silence before the snap that had Northside coach Keith Boyd’s attention.
On more than one occasion during an 11-on-11 defensive drill, Boyd had to take a pause in the action to stress the importance of communication amongst his defense. The Panthers took notice, and by the end of the drill they had some pre-snap chatter to accommodate the sounds of full-pads hitting.
Boyd said communication is the key to being competitive this season.
While the defense worked on communication, the offense was getting adjusted to hearing someone else besides William Rushton call the signals.
Rushton graduated, leaving his quarterback position up for grabs.
Boyd said right now he has two QB’s locked in a battle for the starting role, and is looking to play both throughout the season.
Boyd said that each quarterback brings different skills to the table.
Boyd wrapped up his seventh team practice on Friday, but was hesitant to relay his opinion on how his team has looked so far.
Boyd, one of the area’s more innovative coaches, also took the fifth when asked if he had any new wrinkles in his offense, saying, “You’re just going to have to come watch us play.”
Anyone can watch the Panthers play on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at South Central High School, as the Panthers will scrimmage against Perquimans, North Pitt and South Central.
Seahawks show enthusiasm as the contact begins
By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
CHOCOWINITY — The trash-talking started early at Southside on Friday afternoon.
After five days of running through drills and plays donning only helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, the Seahawks' players were ready to strap on the full gear and get the first full contact practice of the season underway. And they weren't afraid to let each other know.
One-by-one Southside's players entered the locker room Friday afternoon, and with each new person that passed by the chatter grew louder.
"I'm going to smoke you fool," one would say. "You can't catch me," another would reply. "I can't wait to hit you in the mouth sucker," came from across the room.
After eight months of agonizing over a miserable 2007 season, Southside finally got to take its frustration out on one another Friday, as it held its first full contact practice of the season.
"The trash-talking started at four o'clock and it hasn't stopped all day. I love it. That means they came here today ready to play football.”
The players were eager to get the first day of hitting out of the way.
"I've been looking forward to this day every since last season ended," senior Dash Spruill said. "This is the day you look forward to most. The day when you get to go out and hit people."
The banging of shoulder pads and dinging of helmets rang out all afternoon as the Seahawks spent the majority of practice doing contact drills.
"All the steam and frustration that built up through the summer finally got let loose today," senior Terence Whidley said. "We came out to hit today. This is one of the best days of the season."
The Seahawks wrapped up their first full week of training camp Friday, and there's a different feel to this year's camp. There's a sense of pride. A sense of leadership. A sense to succeed.
Southside's players and coaches feel that things are looking up for the program
Last year, Southside fell victim to what Hines, a second-year coach, calls the perfect storm.
An early season coaching change, lack of preparation time and injuries all took a toll on the Seahawks as they failed to get a win, going 0-10.
"If it could go wrong last season, it did," Hines said. "Everything was a mess. Last year at this time, the first day of contact was like my sixth day on the job. The kids didn't know what to expect from me and I didn't know what to expect from them. This year, things are a lot more organized, and the kids have bought into what we are trying to do here."
This year, the Seahawks are carrying a chip on their shoulder and they're out to prove that last year's winless season was a fluke.
"We have big chips on our shoulders," defensive lineman Coby Fulford said. "Last year was just a bad season. We're ready to move past that and get some wins this year. The same thing that happened last year won't happen again this year. I promise you that."
After one week of practice, Coach Hines can already see a tremendous improvement in this year's group.
"This team genuinely enjoys each others company, and we didn't have that last year," Hines said. "They're a tight group and they're ready to do battle together. You can already see the intensity level and excitement has picked up. Our guys are ready to get this program back to where it was a few years ago."
After one day in pads, quarterback Kevin Sparks already sees the program getting back to its winning ways.
"We are a much better team this year," Sparks said. "Last year, we came out on the first day of full contact and looked like a bunch of weenies. This year, we've got our heads screwed on straight. We're out here popping people and we're ready to play football."