Pack begins conference play|Will hit the road to take on Cards

Published 6:11 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
After five weeks of tune-up games Washington will play its first Coastal Conference contest tonight when it hits the road to take on Jacksonville at 7 p.m.
It’s been an up and down season for the Pam Pack, as it has shown flashes of quality play mixed in with periods of adversity.
Washington started out the season with a 28-15 road loss to North Pitt in which turnovers marred an otherwise strong performance. The following week the Pack’s inconsistency was evident as it dropped another road game to Tarboro. However, in Week 3 Washington came home and seemingly put it all together, getting a strong effort of both sides of the ball in its 40-0 win over Northside.
The win came at a good time as it allowed Washington to go into its bye week with a win. Unfortunately for the Pack, it could not sustain that momentum against Goldsboro.
Washington played well in the first half against the Cougars and went into halftime down only 12-7, but the game would not get any closer. Goldsboro ran the ball effectively and benefited from good defensive play to out-score the Pack 36-13 in the second half.
“The game was close at the half, and I think a couple of plays in the second half really did us in,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “There was a fourth-and-2 (Washington did not convert) and a turnover on a punt (which led to a Cougars’ touchdown) which kind of took away some momentum. We just never regrouped.”
The young Pam Pack lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and did not seem to have the same fire in the second half as it did in the first. Sawyer said his inexperienced group is still learning to deal with adversity.
“We got a lot of young guys that play both ways,” Sawyer said. “They have to learn that not everything in a game is going to go our way. When it doesn’t, we need to respond in a positive way to keep things from snowballing.
“We’ve had two games this year that when bad things started happening it just started snowballing by the end real quick. We just can’t do that.”
Sawyer said his group is giving a good effort, it just needs to produce more results.
“We are playing hard, these kids do go out and play hard,” Sawyer said. “We just have to make plays. We have had a lot of good practices this week.”
The inconsistent play of previous weeks means nothing now, as the Pack and every other team starts out conference play with the same 0-0 record.
“Any game you play you want to win, but really the non-conference is a tune-up for conference play,” Sawyer said. “The playoffs and everything is seeded by conference play, so we are looking to move forward and have productive conference games.”
Sawyer said in order for his team to get a win against the Cardinals (0-4) is to execute the fundamentals.
“Defensively, the plan and simple: tackle,” Sawyer said. “The other night we missed a lot of tackles so we just have to make sure we are in the right spot and make the tackle. Offensively, we have to convert on third down and not turn the ball.”