Pack looks to drive past Cards

Published 8:44 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Washington football team takes the field before its 38-13 victory over Riverside last Friday. Tonight, the Pam Pack will host Jacksonville in its Coastal Conference opener. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Expect the intensity to increase tonight as the Pam Pack not only begins conference play, but will also be inducting former Washington legends Marquin Hill, Mark Gray, Evelyn Ewing and the 1951-52 basketball team into the Walk of Fame at halftime of the team’s contest against Jacksonville.
After playing three non-conference games, Washington (2-1) will host Coastal Conference rival Jacksonville (1-4) tonight at 7 p.m., and Washington coach Sport Sawyer and his team know that the margin of error will be a lot slimmer from here on out.
“It’s kind of like in the NFL, the preseason is over,” Sawyer said. “It’s conference time and we just want to go out each week and perform our best. This is huge this week, it’s conference game No. 1.”
Sawyer said he hopes his players draw inspiration from seeing the former Washington stars being honored.
“Anytime you make the Walk of Fame it means you have represented Washington in an honorable fashion and in a good manner,” Sawyer said. “That’s something that our players should strive to do. It’s a big night as far as people coming back, and we want to go out and represent Washington.”
Sawyer would also like to see his team piece together more lengthy drives on offense. In last week’s 38-13 win over Riverside, Pack quarterback Jimmy Williams ran for scores of 72 and 30 yards, while another TD came on a halfback option pass from D.J. Bell to Devontae Corprew.
While big players are always nice, Sawyer knows his team must be able to move the ball on a more consistent basis.
“We scored a lot on big plays, and that’s fine if you can score 38 points on big plays each week, but most of the time you score on drives,” Sawyer said. “We need to have some sustained drives and move the ball instead of having only big plays. I felt like last week it was only big plays, I want some drives.”
While the Pack offense had its ups and downs against the Knights, the defense was consistently good. Washington allowed Riverside to score 13 first-quarter points, pitched a shutout after that as the Pack unveiled its new 3-4 defense.
“We’ve been looking at it the last few weeks and finally we decided to go with it,” Sawyer said. “We got three big boys up front, we call them bubbas, then we got four athletic linebackers, which is why we made the change.”
Under defensive coordinator John Blank, the Pack has primarily been a 4-3 team, but Sawyer said now the team will have the ability to do both depending on when Blank feels it best suits the team.
“Coach Blank does a good job with our defense, he has for years, and I think as he prepares for different teams it will just depend on how he feels,” Sawyer said. “I trust him. … It will probably depend a lot on the matchup and how we develop into this.”
Tonight, Washington will faces a Cardinals team that runs similar schemes on both sides of the ball.
“They’re pretty athletic. They’re going to run a 3-4 defense as well, and on the offensive side they run the spread,” Sawyer said. “It’s two teams with similar styles. They have a few good receivers. Their (starting) quarterback might not play because of an injury, but you never know.”
Jacksonville has been shutout its last two games as it lost 34-0 to Northside-Jacksonville in Week 3 and 24-0 to Richlands last week.
Sawyer said the bottom line is that his team must execute in order to top the Cards.
“On the offensive side, we have to put together some drives and not just rest on the big plays,” Sawyer said. “On the defensive side, they’re going to run some zone options and throw the ball a little so we have to play some sound football.”