Pack opens season tonight|Faces North Pitt on the road

Published 11:44 am Friday, August 20, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Coach: Sport Sawyer, 7th year
Key losses: MLB Cole Hartley, RB/WR Tony Turnage
Key returnees: RB William Ellagor, RG/DT Kevin Chapman, TE/S Johnny Broadway, FB Marquin Hill
Offense: I-formation; defense: 4-3
Game 1: Washington (0-0) at North Pitt (0-0)
This year will be a year of transition in more ways than one for the Washington football team. Not only is the Pam Pack moving away from a spread offense and closer to a more traditional one, but is also having to replace eight starters on each side of the ball.
Last year, the Pam Pack were bit hard by the injury bug, losing Div. I caliber wide receiver Dakuan Spencer and starting QB Trey Harris each by the third week of the season.
Despite the struggles, seventh-year coach Sport Sawyer held his troops together and pulled out a .500 season, finishing with an 6-6 record.
This year, the potential for a winning season is there, but it hinges largely on how fast all the Pack’s new parts can learn to function together and believe in themselves.
“That’s the big thing,” Sawyer said. “Come (tonight) they have to come out there with some confidence and gain some confidence. If they get some confidence I think they will be okay. They are young, but I feel like they are capable of playing.”
The Pam Pack will rely heavily on returning stars such as running back William Ellegor, FB Marquin Hill, OL/DL Kevin Chapman and TE/SS Johnny Broadway.
Broadway was locked in a summer-long battle for the starting quarterback spot with Jimmy Williams, but Sawyer determined that Broadway’s value to the team was greater at a pass-catching position.
Sawyer said that Broadway, who played tight end last year, handled the decision well.
“It’s still kind of up in the air, but Johnny is a really good receiver for us, so Jimmy will probably start for us,” Sawyer said. “We talked to Johnny, he’s a senior and has played tight end and receiver for three years and he showed a lot of class and that he is a team-first player.”
Williams will lead a Washington offense that will look a little different from the last year’s shotgun-heavy style.
Sawyer decided to cater his system more towards his personnel and came to the conclusion that an I-formation offense will be the most effective way to produce points.
“I think that with Marquin’s size and athleticism, along with our backup fullback, we are looking to take advantage of them are run some downhill stuff,” Sawyer said. “We really want to take advantage of our guys’ size and get them moving.”
On the other side of the ball, the Pack is still trying to mix and match players, but hopes that defensive coordinator Jon Blank can mold this unit into one of the best in the Coastal Conference just like last year’s group.
“Defensively, we are moving people around and trying to find the right matches,” Sawyer said. “Last year our defense was first in the conference and we are looking for this year’s defense to do the same.”
The Pam Pack will kickoff the season at North Pitt tonight, which like Washington, is a team that can shift offensively from power formations to a spread look. Defensively, the Panthers are expected to play a 3-5 base defense.
Sawyer said the key to starting off the season with a 1-0 record is keeping the chains moving on offense.
“We need to have ball control,” Sawyer said. “We have to pick up first downs and move the chains. A lot of guys will be going both ways, so we will have to find some ways to give guys some breaks throughout the game. Then, when we get inside the red zone we have to find a way to come out with points.”